The secret to self leadership? Keep it R.E.A.L
By now you’ve probably heard me mention the words ‘self leadership’ once, or twice, or a dozen times, and then some. But what exactly is self leadership? What does it mean to me, how do I strive to practice it daily and where do you begin if you want to do the same?
They’re big questions. So let’s start with the first one… which also happens to be the simplest. What is self leadership? It’s the practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feeling and behaviours to achieve your objective (purpose). Okay, it’s a good start. But questions two and three are going to need a bit more time. We need to dive deeper – to do that I’ve broken down the key elements of self leadership to neatly fit into one four-letter word: R.E.A.L.
Here’s how I keep it R.E.A.L, daily.
To truly achieve self leadership, being in a conscious state of mind most of the day is crucial. You need to recognise your response to every situation and take note of how you dealt with it, every time. Ask yourself: is this response programing or not? Is it acting or overreacting? It’s also about taking the time to recognise when you are having a tough time, owning that feeling and reaching out for help in those moments. Giving yourself the time and space you need to really recognise what you’re feeling and sometimes saying “I’m not okay today, and that’s okay” is an incredible act of bravery and love. The more you give yourself permission to be all of yourself, the more you will be able to become the best version of yourself.
Empathy plays a huge role in my purpose – in fact most people’s purpose boils down to a desire to help in some way; help others, help society, help new mums, help the elderly, help people find a new home, help someone change their health. The ability to empathise, therefore, plays a huge role in self leadership too. I try to cultivate a helping attitude every single day. I go out into the world looking for opportunities to reach out to others, whether it’s holding a door open a little longer so a mum and bubba can get through, or buying a friend who can’t get out of work for a break a coffee (double shot!). Any little thing can make such a huge difference, and the more I reach out to the world, the better I feel and the more enthusiasm I have for my own specific purpose.
When it comes to self leadership specifically, true success originates from this very purpose or your ‘why’. It excites, energises and inspires you to act. Having this clarity of purpose enables you to create goals that focus on what really matters to you. And the stronger your ‘why’, the more likely you are to overcome obstacles and setbacks and ultimately keep moving forward to achieve those goals.
Curiosity is one of the most important tools at your disposal when it comes to self leadership. Questioning yourself and the world daily and taking the time to act accordingly will propel you forward. Ask yourself: why do I do that? Why do I think that way? Why do I act that way? Why do I believe that thing is always going to happen? Why do I struggle to stay focused? The more curious we are about why we do the things we do and the more we act to resolve those questions, the more opportunities we have to unearth the patterns that don’t serve us, or that we simply don’t like. We go from being reactionary beings to conscious ones, who are not driven by what they once were, but by who they are now and who they know they can become.
Above all, it’s important to understand that self leadership isn’t something that will happen overnight. It’s something you need to learn, nurture and develop. Here are a few of the things I do to continue that learning process daily:
Read – anything and everything about what drives you, inspires you and encourages you to act. I can’t recommend The Success Principles by Jack Canfield highly enough. That book is jam-packed with ah-ha moments and forced me to have a brutally honest conversation with myself about my ‘why’.
Listen – that goes for podcasts and music. For me, Mozart time really aids my ability to reflect and visualise where I’m going. It’s so important for you to schedule time for moments like this.
Reflect – experiencing a negative thought? Where did it come from? What memories are attached to it? And why do I want to change it? Write it all down then physically put that piece of paper in the bin. Combining this mental process with a physical act is a valuable way of reflecting on any negativity and replacing it with a positive – this might come in the form of meditation or reading an affirmations book. Whatever it is that works best for you, this act will nourish your feelings and enable you to look back and track your success.
Write – it might not be for everyone, but I find doing a gratitude inventory in my journal daily to be a really powerful process. I write out everything I feel thankful for in my life – what have I loved about today and what would I change about today if I could? I then look for patterns in the list. This brings me clarity, which is crucial to achieving self leadership. A person who has clarity on who they are and what they want will not wander for very long. They will bounce out of bed ready for the day ahead and have a routine and zest for life.
So here’s to all of us on the path to our true purpose – whatever direction you choose, remember to keep it R.E.A.L.