You have ideas and this inner drive to do something great. You're seeing a solution that no one else sees yet. And that's pretty amazing. But with all this insight, you're still not sure if and how to proceed. Are you waiting for someone to call or to reach out with something important? If so, you're not alone.

This is a common confidence rut, but one you must plow on through by empowering yourself to lead from where you are. No boss's sign-offs needed. You approve you. This a simple (but maybe not easy) mindset shift: yours. Knowing that it's you, and knowing the time is now. Granting yourself permission to move forward with your ideas is freeing and powerful.

After I left a titled position to start my consulting practice, I stood at the start line of a half marathon with a good friend chit-chatting about work as we often do. She was in between jobs and looking for that next big thing. She then dropped this comment, "I don't want to just start my firm and put myself at the top. I want a career. I want to climb the ladder." It really got my attention because that was exactly what I had just done.

I thought about it for at least 10 miles or so until my legs were too tired for my brain to work. Then I thought about it a little more in the following days. I don't know if it was an intentional jab or judgment about my chosen path--I can't imagine that was the case. Instead, it was more about her. It was a yearning from her heart and a reflection of the desire most people have to be a part of something greater than the sum of themselves. She is looking for organizational validation and anticipates that coming through hiring and then from promotions and big project opportunities. I get this and can completely relate to the need for someone else to say my work is good and that my contributions are valued. It's just totally backward.

What leaving that familiar, comfortable structure taught me was that I alone owned the responsibility for doing important work and having an impact on the challenges I cared about. The irony is that, like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," I realized that I'd had the power all along and hadn't figured it yet. This is a truth I'm still absorbing and one that makes me both incredibly excited and still unimaginably uncomfortable.

Approving yourself first like frequently quoted financial advice to "pay yourself first." They both snap your priorities and energy into alignment because they're one and the same. Self-validation is viewing yourself as a leader--not next year or in your next job, but now. It is seeing yourself as equally well-equipped to coming up with solutions. It is viewing the business's problems as your own. And, finally, it is seeing yourself as more powerful than you know in pushing great solutions through to fruition.

Once you decide that you're going to volunteer, come up with the ideas, form the team, and move forward--whether you do that within your organization or outside of it is kind of beside the point. You have to volunteer yourself to make the change.

Waiting for someone else to select you for the team or to promote you into the "right" position is lazy and, ultimately, an excuse for not taking action and fulfilling your potential. With a sense of personal empowerment, no one can stop you from leading as precisely the person you are today.

You're you approved. Go do.

Published on: Jul 17, 2015