“Leadership starts within yourself.”
This statement is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learnt about growth in the last few years. John Wooden, the Coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team, said:
“Winning takes talent, to repeat it takes character.”
Character is the single most valuable asset I have. And on my own journey of personal growth, I came to the conclusion that: A leader is nothing more than a person who constantly takes responsibility for his/her own results and the results of others.
Leadership expert John C. Maxwell puts it this way:
“Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.”
That means the more influence I have on my life – the events I experience, the results I create and the people I meet – the more personal leadership I have created. It all comes down to growing as the person I am. But how?
I would like to propose that we see our results as the greatest reflection of what we believe about ourselves and the world around us. We will always act upon our own belief system, and produce results accordingly. Therefore, if I don’t create the results I want, I’m not leading my life; my habits are leading me.
After studying the All Blacks – one of the most successful sports team in the world – James Kerr wrote:
“A culture of asking and re-asking fundamental questions cuts away unhelpful beliefs in order to achieve clarity of execution. Being honest allows us to ask the simple question: Why?”
So in order to grow and to produce different results – results that I want – I need to ask honest questions about the person I am. Questions like:
- How do I see myself, which has led to my choice in actions that created this result?
- When I look at my results, what can I learn about ‘how I see the world’?
- What is more important to me than keeping my word?
This habit of being honest with ourselves, about the results we have created in our life, is not easy to cultivate. And if you are like me, you’ll find that the first thing you do is to come up with a lot of reasons and excuses in order to explain the results, especially if the results weren’t what you intended to create. When I look at modern society, I must admit that we have built a strong habit of allowing ourselves to create results we don’t want and then finding ways to excuse those results. And because so many people are doing that, we live in a world of excuses. I believe that is why culture was a significant starting point for James Kerr when he said: “A culture of asking and re-asking fundamental questions…”.
I for sure was stuck in the vicious cycle of undesirable results and the accompanying excuses. When I finally sat down and did some honest reflection, what I discovered was a strong belief that ‘I’m not enough’. So according to the belief I had, I subconsciously produced results that reflected that belief. And all the disappointment that came with those results got channeled towards excuses, so that I didn’t have to face the pain or confront my belief. This went on until I realized I was allowing the habit to take control of me. I was no longer practicing personal leadership. I wasn’t growing, I produced results that I didn’t like, I was frustrated, and my loved ones had to bear the consequences of all these things. And so, I had to put my foot down and get honest with myself.
Today, I know my results are based on my beliefs and habits, and with lots of honesty and practice, I can form healthier beliefs and create more productive habits. That means I can change. That means I can create the life of my dreams, and so can you.
So from my experiences, I say if you want to grow and play a bigger game in life, don’t stay stuck with a belief that is not working for you. Get together with people, get into great relationships and create a culture of honesty and intentional growth.
That, I promise you, will work.