It doesn’t actually matter if you are a recognized ‘leader’ in life or not. You don’t need to be a boss, or a teacher, or a club president or anything to follow this rule. The number one rule of leadership is, lead yourself first.
Reality is, we are all leaders in some capacity. As parents we lead our kids all the time. They watch, learn and grow from what they see and they desperately need us to lead them, keep them safe and show them the way. If you are young you lead and impress those around you or those younger than you. My four-year-old follows six-year-olds thinking they are amazing! Our Rotary Club recently celebrated the local Sylvan Lake Interact Club, a group of teens that are leaders in this community and already changing the world through volunteering, fundraising and helping others. As seniors you show everyone around you how to enjoy a different phase of life than the kids, teens and young adults.
So how does one exactly lead oneself? We all have strengths and it starts with using them to the highest benefit of the world. That in itself is leadership. Sharing our natural gifts. If you do not know what your natural gifts are, ask your best friends what you are good at. They know, even if you don’t. Invest in your strengths and learn how to best use them. Natural gifts are great but they don’t actually come ‘naturally’. It’s like having a spark and then fanning it to a flame. That takes practice, knowledge, patience and more. We need to invest in our gifts once we know what they are. Read books, listen to audio books, take courses, search the Internet. Bring your natural gifts to their highest potential. That is leading yourself.
Perhaps the hardest part of leading yourself is acknowledging your weaknesses (ouch!) This by far is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Understand where you are weak because then you have choices. Instead of stumbling around upset that things are not working, you can understand better why and deal with it. There are basically two ways to deal with your weaknesses – learn to improve them or work around them, or use them to your best purpose. And work with people who are strong where you are weak. Optimally, you should try to do both.
I have taken many courses on understanding personality types and physiological patterns, it’s fascinating stuff! One of the most recent tests I took was called the Kolbe A Index (you can find it on Kolbe.com). It shows that I am strong in fact finding and really strong at quick start and implementation (building things or programs) but I am terrible at follow through. Yah, I hate to admit it but I knew that. So I put deadlines in place and systems to help me with follow through and I have amazing people that I work with that happen to be excellent at follow through.
Leading yourself also really comes to play with health and fitness. You have to take care of yourself, you have to eat well, you have to be in the best shape because if you are not then everything is harder. You cannot lead yourself or anyone else if you are tired, broken, worn out and in pain. If that is an area that you are not strong in, then come and work with an expert.
It’s why I have an accountant, lawyer, real estate agent, etc., because they are good at something that I am not good at and if I want to lead myself to a great life, I need their help.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.