Growing your leadership skills is nothing new, but self-leadership? Now, that’s a whole new ballgame. It’s equally important, if not more so, than growing your leadership skills.
Now, even if you aren’t a leader in the traditional sense of the word, you can still benefit from self-leadership training. Self-leadership is about knowing who we are on the deepest levels, aligning to our center and then living out our truth through self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-management and self-efficacy. It teaches us how to take 100% ownership and responsibility of our results and everything we do in life. And taking ownership and responsibility of our results gives us the freedom to make changes and adjust as needed to grow into who we want to be.
But getting to that point requires us to set aside the time to slow down, do the inner work and get clear on who we are (and aren’t!) and what we want. Then, we can use that insight to guide decisions, to know when to say yes and when to say no. Here are six ways you can start taking responsibility for your life today and grow your self-leadership.
1. Get clear on your why
First things first, strong self-leaders know their deeper why, their purpose in life. They aren’t floundering from one thing to the next or just going with the flow. If you can get clear on your why, it doesn’t matter what struggle or challenge occurs; you simply build resilience as you move through it because you’re guided by your purpose.
Individuals who are in alignment with their deeper why also tend to love what they do and are in full acceptance of themselves. They take a heart-centered approach to everything in life.
2. Know your values
Another huge component of self-leadership, once you’re clear on your why, is knowing your values in every area of your life and what they mean to you. Your values determine how you spend your time and how you evaluate that time. Your values form the basis of your mindset and everything that is important to you. They create your beliefs, and those beliefs create your attitude. See how important they are?
Take some time to identify (or refresh!) your values by asking and writing down what’s important to you in both your personal and professional life. Do you value honesty and integrity? Are kindness and compassion more important than anything else? Make a list of your top seven to ten values in each area of your life and then define what they mean to you so you can live them and communicate them to others. Values are like our North Star. Without them, we have nothing by which to guide our decisions, goals, habits or routines.
3. Release and integrate baggage
Most of what is holding us back is our mindset. And we all have it — none of us are immune to emotional or mental baggage. Over time, when left unchecked or unhealed, that baggage can create limiting beliefs, fears, unexpressed anger or sadness and even deep guilt or shame. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the end. Not only can you release your emotional and mental baggage, but you can also integrate it to move past it and come out stronger.
No matter how heavy or traumatic your baggage, it is possible to learn from it, integrate it, evolve as an individual, let go and then move on. Sometimes, this requires the help of a professional if you’re trying to heal from a particularly heavy trauma. To begin releasing and integrating your baggage by yourself, start a daily gratitude practice and meditate on how you can use and learn from your experience for the good versus letting it use (and define) you.
4. Master your routines and habits
When external circumstances threaten to throw you off your path or plan, do you know how to stay on? Self-leadership requires you to master your routines and habits so they can serve as backup when those external circumstances inevitably show up and wreak havoc. As you think through your current routines and habits, pay special attention to whether or not you have a supportive environment — internally and externally. Examine your self-talk and be able to sweep away the mind clutter as well as the clutter that is in your house. Spend time in advance organizing with great structure to promote relaxation and flow. Check in with your habits to see which ones you need to stop, continue or start to be in alignment with your truth.
5. Exercise your communication muscles
Strong self-leadership also requires you to be able to communicate well with yourself and others. Good communication skills look like being able to listen well, meet people where they are and respond instead of react during conversations. Exercise this muscle regularly so you can become flexible and adaptable during conversations. These skills will then help you as you seek to share your boundaries clearly with those around you and build the supportive environment that helps you thrive.
6. Learn how to rest well
Finally, strong self-leaders know when to stop and take a breather. Burnout is real, but so is its prevention. Figure out now what gives you energy and what takes it away so you can have sustainable results both personally and professionally. Then plan for self-care moments to consistently restore and rejuvenate so you can be at the top of your game (think about what brings you joy, love and compassion). Use your strengthened communication muscles to communicate your boundaries and say no to those energy-draining activities and responsibilities so you can start saying yes to taking care of yourself.
Remember, healthy food and nutrition go a long way in helping you prevent burnout. An easy way to tap into the power of nutrition is to stabilize your blood sugar for all-day energy and amazing sleep.
Our internal world is a reflection of our outer world. And self-leadership gives us the tools we need to make that internal world as healthy as possible so we can show up fully and authentically to the world outside of ourselves.