Urban cultural anthropologist Jennifer James says, “People don’t want to just be successful, they want to FEEL successful.”
In order to FEEL successful we must peer inside. That’s right, open your eyes wide and find out what is really important to you. Could the answer to happiness and leadership effectiveness be as simple as “turning on” self-awareness? It may not offer the whole answers but it is a key element of leadership development. By realizing our authentic self, we can influence others to follow. Recently, neuroscience research proves we have the ability to connect to others and recognize individual authenticity. We can FEEL it. In order to present our authentic self, we must know what we stand for, what is most important, and what we are looking for in life. We need to answer the question, “Who am I?” These inquiries can be answered through the exercise of writing a personal mission statement.
Once upon a time, a leader wanted to change the world. At a young age, she worked diligently to learn everything possible about the world; she set out on a journey to influence as many as possible to make this world a better place. After a period of time, she realized the world was too big, too complex, and her goal too broad, so she narrowed her vision to her nation. After some years in politics and service, she saw little change in those things she wanted to see improve. Narrowing her sights once more, she decided to focus on her city. Again, all the factions and fighting discouraged her until she changed her focus once again—this time to her family. After a lifetime of attempting to influence others with a strong belief in her quest to make things better for others, reality hit her! The best way to influence others was to first be herself then change herself. In many cases, it remains that simple to find your authentic self.
Have you ever tried to influence, advise, or otherwise change a family member? How did that work for you? The path to leadership actually starts with the reality of who you are, what you stand for, what is most important, and the ability to follow universal principles of good living.
Let’s begin with a challenge of discovery from the inside out. Why is it 20 years ago, when conducting training for the Covey Leadership Center on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, typically 10% of the audience had personal mission statements? Today, as I travel the country and ask this question, the average is closer to 1%. I encourage you to help reverse this trend! The act of writing the personal mission statement helps us clarify who we are. Have you written your personal mission statement? Where do you keep it? Do you refer to it often to remind yourself of what is most important?
“The discoveries of how we can grow and the insights we need to have come from the inside out. To have genuine empathy, not as a make nice tool but as an understanding, is essential to the next step.” — Patricia Sun