Is it time to discover yourself?
The leadership clients I work with are often surprised when I suggest the first step to being a great leader is self-discovery.
Aren’t they already themselves? What is there to discover?
Am I asking them to ditch their worldly possessions and travel the globe to ‘find themselves?’
No. What I’m asking them to do is much more routine and realistic. However, it can be life-changing.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Aristotle
Although we spend every minute of every day living our lives, we’re so often preoccupied with external distractions, we lose touch with ourselves. We set goals and then set about achieving them. But we never check in with ourselves to see if we still want them and why they matter.
People sometimes accept roles for purely external reasons. Perhaps the role offers a better salary or job title; which are undoubtedly important considerations. Unfortunately we often make decisions like these without considering how the organisation and the role fit with our personal values. The key to real job satisfaction is balancing those external needs with the ability to live our personal values at work.
The trouble is, we often don’t know what our values are. You may have a vague idea of what’s important to you, like honesty or empathy. However, you’ve probably never spent any significant amount of time considering what drives you and how that ties in with your role at work.
Self-discovery – your personal values
Your values are the very core of who you are. They inform your decisions and your actions to some extent, whether you are aware of them or not. Once you become fully aware of them you can make proactive, conscious choices that align with them. When you do that, a whole new realm of possibilities and job satisfaction opens up.
Once you understand how your goals, objectives, and the projects you’re working on align with your personal values, you’ll understand why some tasks energise and others drain you. You’ll also be better equipped to make informed decisions about which tasks and projects to focus on.
Self-reflection for self-discovery
One of the most important habits you can develop as a leader is self-reflection. Self-reflection is the best way to identify what matters to you, and check in with yourself to see if you’re living those values at work and at home.
Once you get into the habit of self-reflection, you’ll start to notice recurring themes, emotions, and thoughts. This will help you determine what approach you take or what decisions you make regarding any given situation.
The biggest challenge I get from leaders is that they don’t have time to spend self-reflecting. Yet, when they commit to trying it, they find those few minutes a day, or a week, are the most valuable few minutes they spend all day.
Self-reflection actually saves you time in the long run. It helps you become more attuned to what works for you, allowing you to use the time you have more wisely.
Self-discovery – time for you
Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and answer these questions. It doesn’t have to take long. You can set a timer for five minutes if you’re under pressure, but promise yourself at least five minutes to complete this short exercise.
1. How are you feeling right now? (content, pensive, anxious, motivated…? Go with the first word that comes up)
2. What is driving that feeling?
3. How does what’s driving that feeling, link to your personal values?
The answers to these questions will vary wildly, depending on what’s going on for you right now. By taking the time to ask yourself these questions regularly, you’ll build up a picture over time of what motivates and inspires you, and what drains you. Armed with this knowledge, you can choose where to best focus your energy.
Self-discovery – Find the Real You
In my online programme ‘Find the Real You’, I’ll be helping leaders to discover what really matters to them.
After taking part in the programme, you’ll be able to identify your values and strengths, and proactively make decisions that make you feel great and drive results.
Andrea helps you focus on leading yourself first, so you can be a great leader. Start getting your regular dose of leadership tips and inspiration with the ‘Leadership Breather’ – encouraging you to give yourself a breather and take 5 minutes for you.