Archive for July, 2012

July 18, 2012

Lead Yourself

Leading yourself is about good self-care. A good leader makes sure their team is on the same page–they check in and help where needed. But sometimes, a leader becomes so focused on everyone else that they feel 100% responsible for everything and everybody. They forget all about simple self-care. This missing element is one I frequently point out when working with executives. While self-care may seem selfish at first glance, in reality it is actually selfish to neglect it. Getting run-down or irritable are some signs that might indicate it is time to take a moment to focus on yourself so that you can continue to lead with grace and dignity. Here are some things to remember as you take the time to do a little leadership self-care.

1)  Make sure you delegate: The story of Moses and Aaron is a good example of how good delegation can lighten your load. Moses was burning himself out as judge and leader because everybody and their mother was coming to him with something to decide from what color undies to wear to whether the sky was blue. Aaron intervened and suggested Moses appoint judges to help him diversify the work load.

2)  Let others serve you: Without being served, your needs might be neglected. When we choose to take care of everything, we often make poor decisions. By allowing ourselves to be served, we choose to let others take some of the responsibility. Then, we can focus on the important things and make good decisions to positively affect change in our lives and organizations. Christ insisted on washing Peter’s feet in John 13:6-8. He knew Peter needed to be served and loved in this way. At first, Peter had a hard time accepting this but later he understood the importance of letting others serve.

3)  Don’t Forget to Lean: Don’t be afraid to lean/depend on others. Even leaders need community and support.  Paul says that “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” ( I Corinthians 12: 21 NASB)  Philippians 4:16 tells us that Paul leaned on the church in Phillippi while ministering to the Thessalonians. In the same way, the fastest and best Formula One cars can’t make it without a little help. They make pit stops to get their tires changed and fuel renewed as they race feverishly around the track. Self-reliance when you actually need help is foolish. It rejects the importance of good self care.

4)  Learn to discern and trust: Discern the safety of the character of those around you and then get help from those who are trustworthy.

a. Who is safe around you? Are there people in your life that are not critical (but still honest), that are responsible (but not overly responsible) and committed (non-abandoning)?

b. Can you bring your real self, with its hurts, needs and struggles, into relationship with God and with safe people? If not, you may be headed for a crash.

5)  Find a “Change Champion”: Get connected to a person who can champion your growth. Not an intrusive or shaming person, but a person who can offer you understanding as well as tell you the truth about yourself.

6)  Be bold: Be bold with God and don’t mess around:

a. Tell God what you think is most important in your life and what you honestly want and need. Don’t worry about your motives, beliefs and attitudes at first.  Be straight and ask God for help sorting out the rest

b. Boldly ask God what He wants from you–especially around your character, motives and life direction.

7)  Watch your baggage: Saul hid behind the baggage when the Israelites were choosing a king because he was trying to avoid leadership and God’s mission for him (Samuel 10:21-22). But God knew where he was hiding and called him out. Where could you be hiding and what is the baggage you’re hiding behind?

8)  Check your vision: Know your personal vision, mission, goals and the values they come from. Know these and remember to keep them separate from the vision, mission, goals and values at work, church or any other place.

9)  Know Wisdom: Wisdom is the concept of understanding and seeing what is most important in life and in specific circumstances. Choose what is best and leave second best behind.

10) Rule your own spirit: If you don’t, someone else will. Solomon says that he who rules his spirit is mightier than he who takes a city (Proverbs 16: 32). Watching things like your temper, habits and self-discipline will go far in helping you “rule your spirit.”

11) Keep a Time Journal: Try writing down what you do every fifteen minutes. You would be surprised about how much  time you waste. Don’t show your journal to anyone. Just observe what you’re doing during your work day. You’ll be amazed at how efficient this exercise can help you become.

12) Integrate your parts: Be aware of your internal conflicts and work out inner compromises with the different parts. Does your inner Boss Man need to hear what your inner Family Man wants to say about fishing this weekend with your kids? Does your inner Surfer Dude need to hear what your inner Project Manager wants to say about getting things done this month? What if Boss and Family Man worked together and found a compromise between work and family? And what if Surfer Dude and Project Manager found a compromise between fun at the beach and responsibility at work?

13) Challenge yourself: Take on challenges and or recreation that get you away from work. Find things that teach you about your life, character, and the concepts of joy and fun.

14) Review your day: This advice from John Maxwell is a great way to grow and plan for changes in life and character. It’s a great way to check your course and avoid saying, “I’m making great time, but I have no idea where I’m going.”

15) Be Diligent: Need help with diligence? Buy an ant farm. No, really–buy an ant farm and observe how diligent the ants are at creating their home one sand grain at a time.

16) Get Inspired: Watch a movie, read a book, or see a play about leadership and inspiration. This can be the model or vision creation you may be waiting for.

17) Make friends with a historical figure: I made friends with Wilhiem Canaris, the anti-Nazi admiral who headed up German intelligence during World War Two. For years he out-foxed Hitler, frustrated the Nazi’s, saved German Jews by sending them to Switzerland as “spies”, and aligned himself with the Allies. He led by following his Catholic beliefs and a high moral code. Truly an example of an inspiring leader.

18) Sow To Reap: Sow excellent things, wait and then reap excellent things. Sow the type of seed that reflects the type of results you want.  Nurture the seed, wait and then harvest. If you want great marketing results, invest in great marketing, nurture and tend to the processes and relationships involved

When you have good things to give because you have received good things, how much better will your life be?