Leaders: Always Fix Yourself First

“One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.” – Albert Schweitzer

We all fight far greater battles privately, within ourselves, than we ever face in public arenas. When people recognize their shortcomings, most will work their entire lives to change and rise above them in order to become the person they want to be. Indeed, some of history’s greatest leaders – Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr. – have each faced personal challenges such as lacking enthusiasm, doubting their capabilities, using poor judgement, and even feeling bouts of insecurity. The answer to why anyone looking to be a leader must work to remove these debilitating factors may seem obvious. But in fact, the reason has less to do with the leader than with the people they are hoping to lead.

To be truly effective as a leader, your shortcomings must never eclipse those of the people that you are trying to inspire.

Leaders inspire others to reach, to go beyond what they believe they accomplish. To do this, leaders themselves must be armed with a clear mind and strength to lift others. This means having feelings in check that may weaken a leader’s abilities.

ACTIONABLE STEPS:

Self-improvement – much like being a leader – is an ongoing activity. The truth is you will never be without faults; the question is how well will you be able to monitor, manage and maintain control of these areas for improvement effectively enough to be a strong, dependable leader. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Acknowledge your shortcomings. As the old saying goes, admitting you have a problem is the first step. Write down the issues you have for you to help get clear in your mind what exactly it is that you have to work on. A good exercise to help you understand what these may be is to ask a trusted friend their opinion. Take their feedback to heart, abstain from objecting, and listen with an open mind. If someone is truly trying to help you improve yourself, it is in your best interest to just listen.
  • Set goals, keep records, and celebrate wins. Any process that requires ongoing work over a long period of time is difficult to do without motivation. Leaders looking to have sustainable results can find this motivation by having points of reference and keeping track of personal improvements. Seeing growth in your abilities to overcome personal weaknesses will help you to remain diligent in keeping with the mental or physical activities driving positive change.
  • Figure our a ‘therapy’ that works for you. It is almost impossible to change who you are without also making a change in the way you approach addressing who you are. Find activities – mental or physical – to accomplish this, that work for you personally, and give you the strength to become the person you want to be. For Lincoln, he would write each evening; Gandhi would take daily walks, Mandela would have regular meetings with trusted friends, and King Jr. would pray. In each of these activities, these leaders found incremental improvements in overcoming their own personal challenges. It is, however, important to find the ‘therapy’ that actually works for you. Once you’ve found it, prioritize the activity and make it a part of your regular routine.

QUESTIONS FOR LEADERS:

  1. What do you do to perpetually address your shortcomings as a leader?
  2. How do you help others reach higher and overcome their own shortcomings?

As always, your answers and other thoughts are welcome in the comments section below.

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About Brendan Witcher
Honest and practical career/business advice for dedicated individuals pursuing sustainable growth towards becoming successful entrepreneurs or business leaders.

One Response to Leaders: Always Fix Yourself First

  1. Great post I do believe one needs to work on weaknesses as well as strengths – here are my answers to your questions:

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/adapting-change-growth-peter-cook

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