Nobody ever said that being a leader would be easy. If you've taken more than a couple of steps down the path, you know that leadership comes with challenges and complications at every stage.

Becoming a successful leader is synonymous with becoming the best version of yourself--it's that simple and also that difficult.

Here are 18 hard things you will have to do if you want to be a successful leader:

1. You have to be able to foresee the future but stay focused on the present.

The first step of successful leadership is creating a better future by focusing on the present. From there, you can envision it and then make it happen.

2. You have to be able to reach your goals and deliver on results.

To be successful as a leader, you need to identify goals, take measured actions, and get results, because at the end of it all leaders are measured by what they are able to deliver. Even a little progress each day will add up to big results.

3. You have to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Success begins beyond our comfort zone. Great things never come from playing it safe.

4. You have to feel the fear and take the risk anyway.

Successful leaders are visionaries who have learned to overcome any fear of taking chances.

5. You have to know how to inspire others while finding your own motivation.

Successful leaders demonstrate to others what's possible. But achieving success is a matter not only of creating the impossible but also of motivating yourself to focus on the right things.

6. You have to bring people along when they're reluctant to move forward.

When a leader can inspire their people to move past the struggles today and develop the strength to move toward tomorrow, they will have achieved success.

7. You have to embrace failure as you fail forward.

It's impossible to lead without failing at something, unless you lead so cautiously that you might as well not lead at all--in which case you fail by default. To succeed, you must be willing to experience failure.

8. You have to be able to rise above drama and dysfunction.

When everyone goes low, great leaders go high.

9. You have to be accountable for your actions and responsible for your behavior.

Being accountable as a leader means not only taking responsibility for what you do, but also being accountable for what you do not do.

10. You have to be transparent when you most want to be opaque.

If you're covering up your tracks or withholding the truth in any way, it's only a matter of time before the truth comes out. So be transparent: tell the truth, speak with candor, and do it always. Being honest is the only way to be at peace with yourself and for others to respect you.

11. You have to trust before you can be trusted.

Trust is the bedrock of successful leadership. When trust is broken, it takes a long time and commitment on the part of both parties involved to mend it--that's why it's so much better to always be trustworthy.

12. You have to lead by example even when there is no path.

People watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. Be someone worth emulating and build the kind of leadership that sets you apart. Where there isn't a path, create one.

13. You have to be positive when everyone else goes negative.

In leadership, what you do in a negative situation says a lot about your power. When others go negative, great leaders stay positive.

14. You have to care about others--maybe more than they care about you.

Start noticing what you like about others and tell them. Go out of your way to personally acknowledge and compliment those who have gone out of their way to excel, and don't worry so about how much credit you get.

15. You have to care about your character more than your reputation.

Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others temporarily think you are. A genuinely good character is the hallmark of a successful leader who inspires others.

16. You have to ask questions even though people don't always have answers.

This may sound harsh, but the best leaders, the most successful, have a mindset that the only true wisdom they know is that they know nothing. That's why they ask questions, even though some of the questions are unanswerable.

17. You have to lead when no one is else is following.

Successful leaders will forge forward and create a path even if no one is following, because they know if it's compelling enough and meaningful enough, people will show up and they will follow.

18. You have to invest in yourself even though others may not.

To be a successful leader you have to invest in yourself. It's easy to think you can do it on your own, but the best leaders invest in themselves by hiring a great coach who can make them do what they don't want to do so they can become who they have always wanted to be. And that is successful leadership.