What is Self Leadership?

You might have seen my posts and hash-tags on self-leadership. What exactly is self-leadership?

Self-leadership is the ability to influence your thinking, feelings and actions in order to achieve goals.

It's as simple as that.

It is your ability to select a goal, take action, manage your feelings, direct your thoughts, and actually accomplish the goal. It sounds simple. It sounds doable.

Why have most people not mastered it? It takes effort, discipline and courage.

I come from a large, immigrant family. Our parents valued education and encouraged their children to attend college. We knew that they were unable to pay for it. We knew that we would have to pay for college ourselves. So at the beginning of high school, my goal was set: get into and find a way to pay for college.

I looked at college entrance requirements. I browsed through scholarship offerings to see what qualifications I needed to have. With some counsel from my older siblings and the career counselor, I created the most challenging course plan available at my school. I wanted to ensure that I had all the honors and Advanced Placement courses possible.

Of course, it helped that I loved to learn. I liked being the best I could possibly be. It wasn’t a competition with my peers; it was a competition with myself. I knew I had potential and I had this deep inner drive to push myself to the limits of my abilities.

The extracurricular activity portion was easy for me to plan out because I enjoyed meeting new people and volunteering. My parents had gotten us in the habit of volunteering and giving back at a young age. I quickly got involved with school clubs, sports, and I even started a club.

My junior year, I researched potential scholarships. I created a list of the scholarships that I wanted to apply to, along with their due dates. My senior year, I applied to over 30 scholarships. That list I created my junior year came in handy.

By the time I graduated, I had received multiple scholarships, including a full-ride scholarship to California State University Fullerton.

This is the image of a self-leader. I had a goal, I created a plan, and I saw it through.

There were days when the motivation wasn’t there. I doubted my qualifications numerous times while applying for scholarships or colleges. There were tears, frustrations, and doubts. I was nervous before some of my interviews. I didn’t let that stop me. I managed my emotions. I managed my doubts. I found ways to motivate myself. I reached out to my family and friends for support. I made sure that no matter what, I would achieve my goal.

And I did it.

Are you that type of person? Do you have a goal, create a plan, and then achieve it? Perhaps you were this type of person but feel that lately, you’ve lost your groove. Or perhaps, you might feel that you never fully had control of your destiny. You kind of just floated wherever the wind took you. Self-leadership is for you.

Self-leadership is what separates the extraordinary from the average. It is what enables you to truly be in charge of your own life.

Self leadership is broken out into 4 parts: self-awareness, self-direction, self-motivation, and self-care.

The first step is self-awareness. It is gaining an understanding of yourself; being aware of how you work. What makes you tick? How does nature – your genetics and biology – affect the way you think, react, and show up? How does nurture – your culture, neighborhood, and family – affect the way you live your life? Are you aware of your thought habits? Is your mind working against you or for you? Do you know the power of your mind and your thinking habits? Here’s a small taste: neuroscientists are saying that anywhere between 75 – 98% of our physical, emotional, and mental illnesses are self-inflicted due to our thought habits. That is powerful!

Self awareness is also gaining an understanding of your personality and your strengths. What are your communication preferences? What is your unique thinking modality? Once you know how you work, you can move on to step 2: self-direction.

Self-direction is the ability to set goals. Do you know what you want out of life? Do you know what you want out of your relationships? Do you know what you want? If you don’t know what you want, how will you know when you get there?

People who fail to set goals and create plans are setting themselves up for failure and mediocrity.

Self-direction is also the ability to self-regulate. Think of it like a GPS. You set in the destination (your goals) and you create your plans (the map). As you go on your journey, you’ll need to check the GPS to ensure you are still on track. Did you make a wrong turn? Check in with your plan often enough to know that you veered off the path.

Perhaps you need to change destinations. How do you do that? Through self-direction.

How many people have needed to change directions, but they avoided that task until they hit a dead end and were left to wallow in frustration and desperation?

Part of self-direction is also recognizing the role you have played in getting to where you are now, and taking responsibility for your current results. That’s the only way you can move forward.

Once you have a goal and plans, what keeps you on plan? Self-motivation. This is your ability to discipline and motivate yourself. It is the ability stay consistent even when the going gets hard. There are ways to tap into a deep motivation, ways to body hack yourself into motivation, and ways to harness the power of “negative” emotions in order to get you to your goals.

Along this journey, it is important to take care of yourself. You can be the best self-leader in the whole entire world. What does it matter though if in the process, you lose your health or your mind? Take care of yourself so that you can actually enjoy life. Self-care is important to keep you going.

In “Money Master the Game”, Tony Robbins gives the story of a couple who had saved up money to go on their first ever cruise. They figured they would save on food costs by stocking up on cheese, crackers and other small snacks instead of purchasing food on the cruise-line. They enjoyed the cruise, and at every meal, would dutifully return to their room to eat their snacks and save money. On the last night, they finally caved. They figured they would splurge on at least one meal. They went to the dinner buffet and loaded up on all the food their stomachs could hold. They feasted. At the end of their dinner, they asked the waiter for the bill. He answered, “the meals are included”.

How many people work super hard in life, and never take time to enjoy the meals? The meals are included in life. Take care of yourself now to ensure that you can achieve your goals, and you can enjoy them when you do.

My programs are all geared around the concept of self-leadership. Through them, I help people journey through the critical personal growth that every leader needs in order to be successful.

Have you gone on your self-leadership journey?

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