I recently had the occasion to present to two different groups on the concept of self-leadership. I didn’t choose this topic. The topic chose me. One client and then the next requested I speak and teach about this. Then, I realized I was called to evangelize this concept by a higher authority.
First, I presented my personal story of overcoming adversity and choosing to change my mindset. Then, I turned the focus on them.
The exercise I chose was one where the participants had to discuss the barriers to their succeeding the way they want in the work that they do. Then, I walked them through a traditional mindset shift exercise requiring that they think of rational solutions to the barriers they posed. Finally, the groups broke up into smaller groups and began to dream a little about what their perfect scenario would look like. In this exercise, they needed to put their perceived barriers aside, and draw a visual picture of what the perfect workplace would look like considering both internal and external factors. This was a fascinating exercise!
The most fascinating part of the exercise was to see their body language change from an apprehensive, arms-crossed posture to one that shouted receptivity to thinking differently. I was in awe by how everyone seemed to jump on board and “play” with me and their co-workers with these unexpected exercises.
Just call me a development geek, but I love to see the smallest of growth in individuals and organizations. I get a big rush to see lightbulbs go off and hear from the mouths of those deep in these exercises about their dream lives and workplaces! These two examples were no exception.
As I sat back to see who they chose to lead the sub-group presentations and see how passionate they were about what they hoped for in the place at which they spend over 40-hours per week, I realized how simple, yet difficult, it can be to change our mindsets.
I lived a childhood filled with racism and addiction within my own family. I made pivotal decisions to keep my positive, growth-focused mindset in-tact. I know that it is not easy to do, but this skill is especially important if we are to lead others. I know this, because I lived it.
Because of my past, leading others was inevitable for me. In my Leadership with Heart podcast, I consistently ask my guests why they are driven to lead. Often, they refer to a parent or a previous boss. In every story they recall for me, they point to the fact that those people had a certain mindset. One that impressed them so much that they wanted to emulate it. The leaders in their lives had a positive impact.
Each time I hear their stories, I am energized to do the same for my children. I want them to want to lead themselves first. What I realize is that they have a greater chance at success in self-leadership if I am, in fact, steadfast in leading me. They will and do emulate me. As a leader in my home, I get to chose which mindset I impart upon them.
Anyone seeking to lead others, must first lead themselves by choosing their mindset and then sticking to it. There is no more effective way to grow into leadership than to take the time to lead our own emotions, behaviors and mindset. By taking this time, we increase our effectiveness and touch more lives along the way. That’s what we all want, right?