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Practicing self-leadership

4 min read

“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” – Lao Tzu

 

At the beginning of the year, I was debating about starting my podcast. Every time I opened my laptop to contact potential guests, I told myself ‘why would they want to be on your podcast?’ and shut the idea in my head. Sound familiar? How many times do we stop ourselves from doing the things we want to?

I started looking at ways to stay motivated. That’s when I discovered the concept called self-leadership. I then realized, instead of being the biggest critic, I have to be the biggest cheerleader of my life.

Self-leadership is defined as the practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feeling, and actions towards your objectives. It’s how we, as humans adapt and survive in a world that’s constantly changing. By breaking down self-leadership into different components, we can evaluate our life better. It also helps in identifying areas of improvement. From my learning, theses are the 4 steps to attain self-leadership:

 

Self Care

People glorifying working long hours and being busy. What they don’t understand that being busy makes us less efficient. Not paying attention to our physical and mental health will affect productivity and focus. We need to stop saying ‘I don’t have time’!

Many of us consider self-care as a luxury. Instead, we should view self-care as an investment. When we look at the larger picture, we realize how important it is to have good sleep, a healthy diet, meditate and make time for our hobbies. It makes a positive impact on our work.

We can start by asking ourselves – How can we be present 100% while performing a task? What will result in increasing my productivity? How can I make time for work, family, and other initiatives I have been wanting to get involved in? The answers will give you an idea of how you can incorporate certain habits into your daily routine. For instance, I’ve noticed when I get 8+ hours of sleep at night, I’m much more productive.

A more efficient way to implement this is by taking micro-breaks. It could be meditation, reading, writing, journaling, taking a walk, make it micro. I started taking a 20-minute walk every evening. By being in nature, I’m able to reset my mind. This is a great way to get self-care for parents who have small kids at home.

 

Self Awareness

Self-awareness is knowing oneself and how they impact others. It is to understand who you are, where you are right now, and then to move forward. It’s important to get feedback from people you trust and reflect on it. That’s why most organizations send feedback surveys for employees and leaders.

For example, if you enjoy reading books, choosing to run a local book club is internal awareness. Asking the book club members if they are happy with your services is external awareness. It’s not easy to attain because it’s a balance of your viewpoints and other feedback. There is no single path that we all can take, each one of us has to find work on it.

At a talk I attended, Robyn Ward suggested a simple way for internal awareness. Send yourself a text with one emoji every day for 2 weeks. At the end go back and take a look at the emojis and you will be surprised to learn how you felt each day in the 2 weeks.

 

Management

Time management is a practice most of us follow. We set a deadline for our tasks and ensure it gets done within the deadline. If we have the flexibility, we can further divide days for specific tasks. A lot of creatives and makers dedicate days to creating their content and days for meetings. But, time management does not guarantee productivity and satisfaction.

The better management strategy is Attention management. It’s a better way to use our time and energy. This is a way of prioritizing people and projects that matter. By using attention management the quality of our work also improves. We are not merely giving ourselves deadlines, instead of thinking why we are taking on the tasks at hand. And then spend energy to complete the task, without keeping deadlines in mind.

I realized my mornings are better to spend on research and I can write better in the afternoons around 5 PM. So, instead of forcing myself to write every morning for an hour, I use my time, energy, and attention more efficiently.

 

Growth

Growth is the only constant for humans. Whether it’s personal or professional, we are all seeking ways to grow. If we are intentional about growth, we need to track it. One such way is to have a personal mission statement. Every year set 3-5 specific growth criteria, this is your vision for self-improvement. The next step is to identify and set short term goals that will help us reach the vision.

Having accountability partners can help us stay focused. It could be a friend, colleague, or a mentor, find someone to have regular check-ins with and get their feedback on your progress. Another way to get feedback on your growth is by building an audience. Like what I’m doing with writing regularly. I set out with a goal to improve my writing and research about topics I care about. By publishing it for the public to read, I am able to get feedback from a large audience.

 

To be an authentic person and leader, we need to first tend to our own needs. Before we go out in the world and lead, it’s best to be self-aware, manage our attention better, and decide what’s important for us.

 

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