“Self-Leadership is the ability to influence yourself to think and behave in ways that are consistent with who you are and are conducive to the pursuit of goals and experiences that are important and relevant to you”. Andrew Bryant and Ana Kazan
There are many skills involved in leveraging self-leadership, two key aspects of which are:
- Understanding your values and strengths and be willing to both stand by them and design your business and life in alignment with them
- Developing your self-awareness, in particular, your self-talk, the feelings and actions that stem from these thoughts and your ability to consciously choose thoughts that support your goals
Why is it important to understand your strengths and values
If we want greater meaning, purpose and satisfaction in the Next Chapter of our businesses and lives, we need to play to our character strengths and to understand and commit to living and working more in accordance to our values.
Discover your values
Your values are your compass, they are your ‘chosen life directions’ in the world. They can be used to guide your actions and decisions and can help you to move forward in the face of difficult thoughts, feelings and sensations – including when you are feeling stuck in our careers. The key point about values is that they are what you consciously choose your life to be about. They are qualities of action and ‘show us the way we want to proceed in the world’.
There are many benefits associated with identifying your values including helping you to align with your purpose, to make decisions, identify a stronger sense of self, increase your confidence and lift your overall happiness level.
A key question about your values is ‘what do you choose to stand for in the world going forwards from here?’.
- What are your top 5-10 values?
- Can you see them in action in your work and life?
- What changes could you explore making to bring yourself more into alignment?
I found an excellent exercise in discovering your values on this blog.
Know your strengths
Researchers are finding that when we develop a general awareness of our strengths; explore ways to mindfully think about their development and; then apply them by setting goals and taking action, there are numerous benefits for ourselves and our workplaces.
People who use four or more of their top character strengths at work are more likely to experience job satisfaction, pleasure, engagement, and meaning in their work. Using your strengths improves your attention to detail, commitment to tasks, sense of vitality, concentration, and harmonious passion for what you do which can improve your performance.
- Many of us suffer from a deep level of personality strengths blindness and as a result, we tend to underuse our strengths.
- We can also be prone to overplaying our personality strengths when we’re passionate and excited about using them.
- Our personality strengths may sometimes collide with the strengths of your friends and colleagues.
- Do you feel there is an alignment between your strengths and your work?
- Are there adjustments that you can consciously make?
- Are there opportunities you can take?
A great test to take to discover your strengths can be found here.
Vision and Goals
When designing your business or role, always seek to create a Vision that incorporates and honours your personal strengths and values. They have to be personal to engage and motivate you and to increase the likelihood of committing to them when the going gets tough!
If you are aware of goals that you have set that you have yet to achieve despite wanting too over an extended period of time: these can be considered “Elusive Goals” and we can explore them thus:
- Firstly check in and see if they are aligned with your strengths and values.
- Secondly, check to see if there are any time, knowledge or resource gaps to close.
- Thirdly, explore if there are any (mis) beliefs that are standing in the way of your taking action. Is this perceived roadblock a reality or actually just a belief? A belief is simply something that is true for you, but not for others
- Finally, check that you have created a compelling point of completion. How will you know the goal has been achieved – it is tangible? How will you feel? How will you celebrate?
The FEAR (fusion, excessive goals, avoiding discomfort and remoteness from values) acronym from ACT (Acceptance Commitment Training) goes into more detail about how to address your FEARS with DARE (Defusion, Acceptance of discomfort, Realistic goals and Embracing values). I interviewed Russ Harris about using ACT to rise up in the face of challenge on my Podcast – you can listen in here.
As you make progress towards your goals, you will need to make a multitude of decisions along the way.
Typically people make decisions with incomplete information and unconscious bias. With self-leadership we can learn to make better decisions with self-awareness and self-monitoring. We can ask ourselves “Am I making my life choices, or are they being made for me? Am I consciously and intentionally making choices or just drifting with the tide? Am I making considered choices or snap judgments?
When faced with a decision or choice, ask yourself:
- Do I have all the facts?
- Am I weighing the evidence equally, or cherry-picking the facts I like?
- What do these facts mean? Could they mean something else? Am I considering the facts in the right context?
- What am I assuming? What if this assumption wasn’t true?
- What conclusions am I making?
- What do I believe? Am I being prejudiced or biased?
- What is the correct action to take?
Using this practice, you will gain greater confidence in your decision-making and ability to make powerful, supportive choices in Your Next Chapter.
The quality of your decisions, the likelihood of your achieving your goals, the level of fulfilment and motivation you experience are all directly influenced by the quality of your self-talk, which stems from the level of self-awareness you have.
Self-Leaders utilise positive, encouraging self-talk to coach themselves, especially when experiencing challenging circumstances. They are aware of their thoughts and the fact that they are able to challenge and change their internal dialogue.
- They ask themselves: “What do I need to say to myself to get the results I want?”
- They then say those things to themselves in a tone that puts them in the frame of mind to take action and,
- They reverse gap themselves, applauding their progress along the way and thus, provide future fuel to themselves to keep going
I believe the journey into Self-Leadership is at the core of Your Next Chapter expansion – every step forward you take into self-awareness increases the chances of your developing a future where you can flourish!