If you can’t ‘lead’ yourself, you can’t expect to be able to lead anyone else.
Yes. It’s true that everything starts with a thought. But, it’s also true that NOTHING happens unless, and until, some action starts when the thinking stops.
Here are 3 key areas to go to work on yourself.
It’s time to roll up those sleeves, get your head down and get busy.
It’s time for WORK!
1) Work on your Self-Discipline
To be able to master yourself is THE critical factor in personal leadership.
It’s the ability to make yourself do what you know you should do and when you should do it!
Self-Discipline means that you will remain focused on the task at hand. And work to see it through to completion.
With Self-Discipline, you will work that little longer. That bit harder. You will continue through, and better manage the inevitable peaks and troughs.
You will keep on keeping on when it would be so easy to give up!
Look on Self-Discipline as the habit of making a personal commitment to yourself to do a thing and then to do it.
Regardless of whether you want to. Whether you feel like it or whether there’s something more appealing. You get on with it and cross it off your list. It’s done.
Working on your Self-Discipline means that you ‘burn your boats’ when it comes to classic excuses like “Oh, well I can always do it tomorrow, so what’s the problem?”
Well, here’s the problem.
That way of working becomes your habit. Developing your Self-Discipline is a great way to alter that default setting.
Thereby change your results for the better.
A lack of Self-Discipline explains why there are things that you have been talking about for years which you still have not done.
Talk is cheap and work costs. It is the price you pay for achieving anything.
BUT you cannot achieve without the work.
And all that requires Self-Discipline.
If you don’t want to achieve anything. If you are not working towards any goals. If there are no deadlines you need to hit. Or if you are so wealthy that you never need to work another minute for the rest of your life. Then it’s completely reasonable for you not to care about developing your Self-Discipline. … For everyone else; SEE ABOVE!
2) Work on your Priorities
The way you choose to spend your time, hour by hour and day by day, is what you are exchanging your life for!
Your choices have consequences.
The fact is that life ONLY EVER happens in 24-hour instalments.
When it comes to working on your priorities it does not matter what happened yesterday. And it is of little consequence what might happen tomorrow because all you have is TODAY!
To achieve anything, you have the sum total of the waking hours of today and how you decide to spend THAT time is ALL you ever have.
When you view time in this context it can help to refocus you in on what’s important and keep you away what isn’t.
To be aware of what your priorities are, what’s important to you, is always the starting point.
The appreciation of what activities will have the biggest impact on your day. Your results. To work on those things is essential if you want to spend your time well.
This means that is it vital to minimise the interruptions that can ‘gang up’ on your priorities. That ‘steal’ your time from under your very nose.
Like a thief. A pickpocket. Or a scammer. These interruptions (you know the ones … surfing the internet, scrolling through Facebook postings, chatting about ‘this and that’ with colleagues, getting involved in other people’s conversations instead of focusing on what you should be doing) can very quietly, ever so craftily, take your day for themselves.
All without you ever even noticing.
When working on your priorities, you should get into the habit of allotting yourself periods of time.
And that means uninterrupted time.
So, no checking emails. No answering phone calls. No making tea! In fact, that means, not doing anything EXCEPT working on your priority task.
Fully concentrated effort on the single important task in front of you. With no distractions. No alternatives. And no excuses!
That’s working on your priorities.
Even 30 minutes at a time of working in this way, helps you accomplish so much more in a day. More than trying to multi-task and deal with the time thieves of your interruptions.
After this high-focused period of concentrated effort, take a short break of 5 – 10 minutes.
Recharge your mental batteries.
And, if possible, immediately start work again on your priorities.
The more of this quality, uninterrupted time you can manage in a day, the more of your priorities you will be able to cross off your list. The better you will feel about yourself. And the more you will want to experience this way of working again and again.
Achieving your priorities makes you FEEL good. As well as making your days productive. All in all, it’s a win-win habit.
3) Work on your Excess Baggage
Personal leadership means that you choose to carry very little ‘excess baggage’.
Here’s a classic tale to help make the point…
One summer day, two monks set out from their temple to begin a journey of many miles.
After some hours they came across a fast-flowing stream they needed to cross.
There, stood by the bank of the stream, was a young woman dressed in a beautiful silk gown. She was clearly at a loss about how to cross without getting muddy and wet.
The elder monk smiled kindly at her and gestured to pick her up.
Although surprised by the offer she nodded in grateful agreement.
With that, he put her over his shoulder and waded across to the other side.
The younger monk was utterly dismayed at what he was observing. As he crossed the stream he shook his head in disbelief at the elder monks’ actions.
Upon reaching the other side of the bank, the elder monk put the young woman gently down on the ground. She thanked him and went on her way, as the two monks walked off in the opposite direction.
After about an hour the younger monk, still troubled by what he’d seen, asked, “How could you do that? We aren’t supposed to even make eye contact with women, let alone pick them up!”
The elder monk turned to the younger and said, “Why are you still carrying her? I put her down an hour ago”.
Work on the personal leadership trait of putting down your own ‘excess baggage’.
Stop reliving the issues from your past.
They have no power over you now unless you give them power by re-imagining the negative situations and experiences of your life.
You would never contemplate leaving for work in the morning and taking with you several heavy sacks of old rubbish.
But, when you focus on past negative experiences you carry the burden of heavy emotional rubbish around with you.
So, choose to lose that ‘excess baggage’.
Think of your favourite music album.
Let’s say that of the 14 tracks there’s one you don’t like listening to at all. Would you still play it through when it starts or would you move on to another track?
Well, another way to view your ‘excess baggage’ is as tracks on your mental album.
When your personal playlist offers you a track you don’t want – move on.
You do not have to play the track!
It’s your choice.
Instead, have a ‘go-to’ track (a positive, empowering, feel-good memory) ready to play and think about that instead. This is an easy, simple and yet powerful way to work on putting down the emotional rubbish you might be carrying around with you.
You’ll find many more practical techniques for dealing with your ‘excess baggage’ in my book ‘Improve Your Life! 21 Strategies That Will Make The Difference’
By working on yourself and improving your level of Self-Disciple, by focusing daily on your Priorities and by relieving yourself of as much of your Excess Baggage as possible, you are taking personal leadership of your own life.
In future articles, I’ll highlight what are some of the other essential areas of personal leadership.
But for now get busy, it’s time for some work … on yourself!