If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that the toughest person to lead is ourselves. Many times it is not our competition that concerns us, we disqualify ourselves. We are our own worst enemies! Consider these two truths about judging yourself.
We Don’t See Ourselves As We See Others – The first person that we need to examine is ourselves. If we do not take a realistic look at ourselves, we will never see our own personal difficulties. If you do not see them, then how can you lead effectively.
We Are Harder on Others Than We Are on Ourselves – Most people use two different sets of criteria for judging themselves versus others. We tend to judge others according to their actions – it is cut and dry! However, we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions. Even if we do the wrong thing, if we believe our motives were good, we let ourselves off the hook. We repeatedly do this before we hit a crisis moment that requires change.
To be successful in any endeavor, we need to learn how to get out of our own way. There some key steps of action in knowing how to do that. Here are four action steps.
Bishop Fulton Sheen stated once; “Civilization is always in danger when those who have never learned to obey are given the right to command.” Good leadership becomes possible when you take the time to walk in other people’s shoes. You learn what it is like to be under authority and in turn have a better understanding of how authority should be used. In turn leaders who have never followed well tend to be prideful, unrealistic, rigid, and autocratic.
We are all Kings and Queens over a significant Kingdom – Ourselves! To make consistently good decisions, to take the right actions when needed, and refrain from making the wrong action requires character and self-discipline. Essayist John Foster writes, “A man without decision of character can never be said to belong to himself. He belongs to whatever can make a captive of him.” When we are foolish we want to conquer the world. When we become wise, we want to conquer ourselves.
The great leaders that I know tend to be impatient. They look ahead, think ahead, and want to move ahead. That can be good. Being a step ahead is what makes you a leader. However, it can be bad. If you are fifty steps ahead that may make you a martyr. Few things in life come quickly. There is no such thing as instant greatness or instant maturity. Leadership takes time, the end product is worth the investment.
People who lead themselves well know a secret: they can’t trust themselves. Good leaders know that power can be seductive and they understand their own fallibility. To deny this truth is to put yourself in danger. There is an old Chinese proverb that states; “When you see a good man, think of emulating him; when you see a bad man, examine your heart.” Accountability is not answering and accounting for your actions. It starts much sooner. It starts with getting advice from others. The willingness to seek and accept advice is a great indicator of accountability. If you seek early, you will be less likely to get off track in your leadership.
In Closing: Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others, as what he does from day to day to lead himself – Thomas J. Watson
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