When people talk about leadership, they the focus is most often on others--how leaders serve them, empower them and motivate them.
What if we turn the tables, though?
What if instead of thinking about leadership in relation to others, we concentrate on the leadership we can take within our own lives? What would that look like?
Here are 12 ways that becoming the leader of your own life will make a big difference:
1. Set goals for your life.
Set daily, monthly and long-term goals tied to your visions and dreams. Don't be afraid to go for something big--remember, nothing is impossible if you believe you can achieve it. Once you've set your goals, ask yourself daily what you're doing to reach them.
2. Lead by example.
Every day, you're setting an example for those around you--whether you realize it or not, positive or negative. Your life is your message, so to be leader of your life you need to decide what message you want to send.
3. Be fearless.
Too many people coast through life without ever taking the initiative to find greatness within themselves. Instead, teach yourself to be daring, bold and brave. Be willing to fall down, fail and get up again for another round. To lead in your life requires that you do things that make you afraid--because life will unfold in portion to your courage.
4. Honor others.
Others will tell you to make sure you get all the credit and validation that are due to you. But being the leader of your own life means learning to be humble and give away the credit. Going out ahead of others is only part of leadership; you also have to go with them. Instead of seeking recognition for yourself, show that you stand with them and that you recognize and appreciate them.
5. Embrace new ideas and opportunities.
Don't shy away from anything new, whether it's an opportunity, an idea, or an experience. Turn every day into an adventure and work to turn all the programs, projects and processes in your life into possibilities. Everything was impossible until the first person did it, so work to always be that first person.
6. Question everything.
Become the person who's constantly asking questions. The more you question, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more you know. If you weren't born with it, develop the drive to increase your knowledge, skills, and understanding. Ask yourself questions to stay focused--simple questions to clarify issues and facts, and complex questions for deeper insights into concepts and beliefs. Curiosity is an important way to become the leader of your own life.
7. Do what's right, not what's easy.
There are some things you simply don't take liberties with. When it comes to integrity, honesty and ethics there is no room for compromise. Make sure that what you say and what you do are always in alignment; keep integrity at the heart of your character and you will never lose sight of it. We're all human, and humans aren't perfect. But you can always make the effort to choose what's right over what's convenient or personally beneficial.
8. Find goodness and beauty in everyone and everything.
It's easy to become overwhelmed by the negativity and ugliness that exist in the world. But if we spend our time seeking out beauty in everything and in everyone, how different life becomes. It's up to us to see, appreciate and share the beauty that surrounds us every day.
9. Actively reject pessimism.
There will always be something to be negative about. Instead, practice zero tolerance for negativity. The more you reject things that are defeatist, critical, fatalistic and apathetic, the more room you leave in your life for positivity. As leader of your own life, you have the power to either make yourself miserable or happy with the choices you make every day.
10. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Everything you want begins with you. It starts within. To live in the world of your dreams, you must, in Gandhi's famous words, be the change you want to see. Dream big and start small.
11. Surround yourself with mentors and teachers.
You can't grow when you think you're the smartest person in the room. Always be on the lookout for teachers and mentors who are smarter and more experienced than you. Seek to be continually inspired by something and learning about everything. Encouraging growth and development is as important to leading in your own life as it is with your employees at work.
12. Care for and about people.
Make sure that compassion and empathy are a central part of who you are, and you'll stay connected to your basic humanity. When you do, you'll not only become a better leader of your own life but also someone others choose to lead them.