We have all heard the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”. Effective leaders work tirelessly to understand themselves, practicing to the best of their ability what they preach. In Making a Difference, I shared the importance of preparing yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. Now let’s move to part II of getting to know yourself as the absolute best way to begin to make a difference.
I would like to share this quote with you as you think about getting to know yourself, "Success is when you realize obstacles you face are challenges to help you become better - and your response equals the challenge." - Stephen Covey Becoming a leader requires learning from a combination of successes, failures, training as well as mentoring, and finding value in challenging experiences. Effective leaders learn from many situations encountered in life. As a leader, you have a unique story and a “special” lens through which you view the world. Leaders receive the greatest benefit when they appreciate and absorb every experience in their “story”, then they move forward to make the experience (both positive and negative) a part of their leadership fabric.
As a leader your experiences create a journey. Although journeys may be similar, no two experiences are the same. I’d like to share a chapter from my daughter’s leadership journey and how it affected her. She is a 4th year cadet (freshman) at Virginia Military Institute. For the last six months she has been a “Rat” in the “Ratline” going through what many call the hardest military school initiation in the country. During this time the upper classmen developed her into a Cadet for the class of 2017. Many times we would ask her if she was going to make it and she would answer, always with tears in her eyes, that she was fine. She told us that although she sometimes felt like quitting when faced with some of the toughest challenges, what kept her going were her “brother rats”, finding an outlet in her studies, her soccer teammates who give her constant support, her mentor who continues to guide her, and advice from her “grand” mentor. Here is the advice that we as leaders would benefit from as well – 3 steps to leadership growth:
- Give it everything you have and don’t look for an easy way out of the demanding responsibilities.
- Accept challenges and make them worthwhile.
- Know that you will never regret working hard - anything else is a waste of time.
After completing her most challenging time at the Institute thus far, she said, “It was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was awesome.”
In your leadership journey, find the value in all your life lessons and be proud of all the challenges you have encountered. I encourage you to recognize that it is “awesome” when you face challenges “head-on” and not only persevere, but succeed!
You learn more about yourself through your experiences, your challenges and the great stories from the people in your life every day. As a student of leadership on my own journey, it would enrich my experience and those of others to hear yours. Please share your story.