“The greatest gift one human being can give another is to offer themselves. This comes from focusing on who you are more than what you do. It’s all about emphasizing the internal realities over the external realities.” – Mark Cole
Philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti correctly observes, “It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
Develop a higher level of self-awareness.
“Knowing ourselves precedes growing ourselves.” – JSP
Developing a high level of self-awareness is a lifelong process; the learning curve continues with age and becomes more challenging with increasing responsibilities. Being entrusted with power gives rise to a host of challenges; the pressure at the top finds us confronting our pride and recognizing subtle forms of arrogance.
Self-Awareness and Becoming Others Oriented
I intentionally began pushing myself beyond my comfort zone to help others go beyond theirs. I knew that the golden rule would be the most accessible place for me to start. “Treating others, the way I would want them to be treating me” was my first step toward becoming others-oriented; This took my focus off my feelings and placed it on the feelings of others. I had to learn some much-needed lessons about myself. Realizing that others were often struggling with the same things enabled me to empathize with them. I was now becoming a more relational and empowering leader.
Four Invaluable Things I have Learned:
- Connect with and live out of your core values – never compromise.
- Examine your habits – why do you have them? Where did they originate?
- Manage your emotions – why do you act or react the way you do? Now change them.
- Know your strengths, weaknesses, and limitations – always be honest with yourself.
Gaining control of your thoughts influences your emotions, which drive your decisions, which impacts your relationships. Knowing the “why” behind these is empowering and liberating. Self-awareness allows you to be highly intentional in all you do.
Developing Transparency and Mutual Accountability
“A successful life is an authentic life. Happiness and creativity rest on a foundation of transparency to yourself and others. Knowing your own heart and speaking clearly to others keep you on the path.” – Gay Hendricks
You will never be more at peace with yourself and others than when you are comfortable with being vulnerable with those around you. Are you honest about your mistakes? Are your conversations and demeanor in sync with who you are inside? Transparency with healthy boundaries in the workplace and among family and friends eliminates the fear of being “found out” because there is nothing hidden.
When it comes to vulnerability in leadership, Brené Brown says, “No vulnerability, no creativity. No tolerance for failure, no innovation. It is that simple. If you’re not willing to fail, you can’t innovate. If you’re not willing to build a vulnerable culture, you can’t create.”
Being comfortable with the truth about ourselves and our identity and self-worth is not in our positions, past successes or failures, level of income or status in society, alleviates an abundance of stress. Take enough time for reflection and contemplation and get to know yourself.
Holding ourselves to a higher standard of accountability than those around us raises the bar of excellence. Leaders lead by example, so; they naturally hold themselves accountable to their team. Mutual accountability balances the chemistry and protects the group’s cohesiveness; this builds trust, which saves time and money when tackling projects and meeting deadlines. Achieving objectives together with confidence is a morale builder.
Make Personal Development Your Lifestyle
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein
Many people still believe in that elusive destination marked “success,” unaware that it’s a lifestyle of steady growth they should be seeking. Become a student of human behavior, understanding how you process information about yourself and others. You will be well on your way to establishing the habit of lifelong learning and developing emerging emotionally healthy leaders in the process.
There is no end to personal development because it is a lifestyle of lifelong learning. I believe this to be true for the simple reason that if your personal story is not lifelong, then, at some point, you will personally stop growing and set the lid on your potential.
“The most amazing people are those who love themselves truly and love others endlessly.” – Debasish Mridha
Many people believe that some are born with relational skills, and some are not. I believe relational skills like many others can be learned and improved upon, and is foundational to Personal Development.
So, why is being relational vital to personal development and lifelong learning? John Maxwell says it best, “Leaders never go it alone. Leaders need people. Period. We need to be connected to others because other people help us live to our potential.” Practicing and developing people skills makes us better leaders from the inside out.
“In the end, we retain from our studies only that which we practically apply.”
– Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
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