The day your life and leadership begin

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” Bob Moawad

Every leader has the chance to learn a little more about themselves every day. You might learn from adversity, feedback, self-assessments, therapy, or a coach. Whatever way you learn, reflect on it and have someone you can discuss it with. Understanding yourself is one of the most important things you can focus on.

Why is self-knowledge so important?

To take responsibility for your leadership. You are the instrument that makes your leadership work. You use all kinds of instruments and tools every day; software, telephones, pens, paper. Why wouldn’t you consider yourself as an instrument for the greater good of leading others? The best leaders catch themselves when they are placing blame on others or shrugging their shoulders with “it’s not my problem”. They turn those thoughts around to ask themselves “What would a leader do?” and they take responsibility for what they can do to make a change.

To stay grounded in reality. Its all too easy to get caught up in your assumptions and judgments; that may not be the truth. Your upbringing, education, and the people around you can reinforce beliefs that might be flawed. By knowing enough about yourself to recognize the assumptions and judgments you make, you can stay grounded in what’s really true. When you hear those erroneous thoughts in your head, consider that your beliefs may need to change.

To understand others without labels. Labeling others as “good” or “bad” can put a barrier in front of relationships that might be mutually satisfying. The more you learn about yourself (including your less than favorable traits), the better you can understand others. As you better understand others, empathy and compassion will follow.  When that happens, a connection is made and a relationship can be developed. You can now treat those you kept as at a distance as they want to be treated.

To stay strong in a world that wants you to conform. You’ll lead at your best when you look inside for answers and strength. The leaders who lack confidence look to the external world, which can send them astray. When you know yourself, you know what you stand for. You are then ready to count on yourself to confidently find the way to lead others that is best for you and for your organization.

Being a better leader requires you to know yourself well. When you know who you are, your life – and leadership – truly begins.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.