“True leadership of self and others starts with the mind and it is best thought of as a behaviour, not as a role.”
Everyday you come across your inner leader while making choices, decisions or in getting work done or in guiding others in your workplace or chasing your goals. It becomes very important to lead others in a positive way wherever you are or at whatever place you find yourself in life, be it personally or professionally. The true leader in us is always facing work reality day in and day out where we are constantly distracted by external forces, people and tasks, information overload, and are often interrupted by matters that are not in your control which needs your immediate attention. The pressure is always on as you are always drifting and trying to catchup living on autopilot without a clear sense of purpose and direction.
Whether you are aware of it or not, on some level you are continually leading and managing yourself and others. If you come under the day to day limitations and distractions no matter how expert your capabilities, skill and competence may seem, you fail to connect and inspire the people you lead in an organisation or in your personal life and would fail to value and flourish. You cannot manage or lead others if you have never learnt to manage, lead and discipline yourself. The first way to encourage the assets of others is to develop these within yourself first. In order to do this, you should be able to:
• Take yourself beyond your routine ways of thinking and behaving and lead yourself to higher levels of focus.
• Cultivate optimism, persistence, openness, high emotional quotient, and better interpersonal skills.
• Grow your inner focus which attunes you to your intuitions, guiding values and better decisions.
• Show self-restraint to inhibit your impulses and develop will-power and self-discipline.
• Have long-term goals to be able to focus on without getting distracted from all the clutter and distractions around.
• Shed your old habits, beliefs and older ways of working by asking whether the presumptions you are holding onto are true or not.
• Leave your comfort zone once you realise there is no growth and should be prepared to do or learn newer ways by adapting to change.
• Create an inspiring shared vision and the drive to achieve goals.
• Pursue a plan for improvement of self and others.
Performing right and required actions is the foundation for everything you want to achieve in life in general. You should not be predefined by what you are now, rather you should be able to recreate yourself by what you do. Your inner leadership skills further depend on achieving results in your own life or for your work place or for your people who believe in your goals. From this perspective, the ability to manage yourself and things you pay attention becomes important. By developing your awareness of self and others and applying it to manage your inner world and your relationships with others can improve your decision-making abilities and control your choice-making capabilities.
‘Success on the outside really does begin from within’. Here are certain qualities to develop to embrace your inner leader.
In order to lead and inspire others successfully, you must be in tune with your inner leader by understanding your strengths and weaknesses. You must devote yourself to you own self growth to find meaning and live each day with purpose and intention. The more you come to know who and what you really are as a person, the more value you will be able to create. Identify what is most important and what makes you meaningfully different and authentic. Self-awareness will enrich your judgment and makes you aware of the consequences of each of your choices or decisions. This will help you to develop new strengths and have a positive impact on others.
Your values determine whether or not you are in control of your inner leader. Align your actions to what you believe and say. Having high integrity helps you in doing right by making right choices. Sharing your values help others understand what motivates you and strive to learn and understand the values of the people you work with. This reduces the chances of future conflict and strengthens your interpersonal relationships.
Every time you avoid doing right, you fuel the habit of doing wrong. Always take a high road and make a tough and right choice based on your values rather than the easy road. Decisions aligned with your values help you to become more effective in leading yourself and others.
“One cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in other. Life is one indivisible Whole – M. K. Gandhi.”
When you pursue right purpose, it leads you to do things that are meaningful to you and whatever is relevant to that purpose gets priority thereby eliminating distractions. Get people around you excited about a meaningful cause that contributes to the lives of others. Make decisions that support your purpose and focus on liberating their full potential through the work they do. Align and prioritise your actions to achieve results that matter most to you and to people you work with. Your commitment to right purpose and adherence to it will improve your leadership ability.
If your goal is to lead and create the most value for your organisation or for yourself, then you must be able to perform to the best of your abilities. This can be achieved by cultivating self-discipline. More often, it’s not that achieving your goals is physically impossible, it is the lack of self-discipline to stick to them that keeps you from reaching your full potential. Self-discipline improves your will-power to overcome obstacles and moves you onwards towards your goal. Every act of discipline strengthens your confidence and helps you control your impulses while staying focused on what needs to get done. The strong desire for your purpose can act as a self-motivator to discipline yourself and to channel your energies in appropriate ways.
“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker
The ability to manage your attention and having right focus is the key to bring out the leader in you. Increase in ‘on task’ time could have a significant improvement in leading yourself effectively to get more focused attention. Focusing your attention on right things and directing attention toward where it needs to go is a primal task of leadership. The ability to shift attention to the right place at right time can refine efficiencies and improve yours and everybody’s performance. By maintaining right focus on goals that matter to you , you can seize opportunities and can improve yourself to be innovative and productive.
As important it is to know yourself, to bring out the leader in you, you need to like people and should have a passion to interact, listen and understand them. Develop a deeper understanding of people around. Be empathetic and sensitive to their needs. Understand what drives them and demonstrate genuine concern for their welfare. Guide them through challenges and always be on the lookout for solutions to help them get through their personal challenges. Paying attention to others needs and listening to advice and expertise helps you make right decisions that transform fear to hope by questioning your assumptions. Learn to listen and communicate with care.
“When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.”- Susan Sarandon
Have genuine passion and enthusiasm for the work you do. Be excited about what you do and find the best in others and surround yourself with positive people. Pursuing a vision that makes you feel worthy and meaningful and helping others ṭo liberate the fullness of their talents makes you more passionate. Being passionate opens up new possibilities, this in turn, would lead to new choices and new changes and action. Your passion becomes an anchor to keep you from drifting during turbulent times. Being passionate helps you to see good in every circumstance and creates positive attitudes to the opportunities.
“Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch
Develop the ability to communicate persuasively. It’s easy to get others to do what you want them to do if you’ll see things from their perspective. Avoid thoughtless actions and look for ways to passionately stimulate and energise people and deliver right messages that motivate and reassure. Praise them for every effort they put forth. When something isn’t going right, point out the one thing at the moment that they could do better and help them find the way without making them feel small. Motivate and steer them in right direction and help them be successful too.
There is no singular path towards solving a problem. Rather than rigidly adhering to traditional and outdated ways of doing things, remain flexible in your thinking and in management of others by adapting to change. Adopt new habits and cultivate new attitudes to embrace change. If your old ways are not proving to be of value, it is important to have the flexibility to re-examine and change the course as needed. Sharpen your skills, develop your talents to help you turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Be determined not to give up easily when things don’t go your way. Never run yourself down. View failure as opportunity and seek to better yourself and your circumstances. Esteem yourself not with egotism but with humble, realistic self-confidence. If you possess genuine confidence and live with an unshakable sense of who you are, you can be determined to achieve your goals. Make your decisions with clarity and act despite risk and doubt.
• Be inspired by great purpose.
• Remain flexible and maintain openness to change.
• Accept responsibility.
• Be resilient in the face of obstacles.
• Create a sense of direction in your life having the foresight to anticipate problems or needs before they arise.
• Increase your mindfulness by constant questioning and listening.
• Have impeccable integrity.
• Listen to advice and expertise
• Be collaborative and make decisions by consensus.
• Motivate, influence and help people in developing new strengths or refining their abilities.
• Be receptive to insights, perspectives from other people and their perception.
“with simple thinking, we can maximise our focus with minimum distractions.”
Many things influence our lives and decisions we make. The primary influences being the perceptions and most of the times, the mistakes of perception leads to our complex thinking. we get used to the complex processes, procedures and matters in our day-to-day tasks which in turn add to our complicated thinking. We acquire habits, possessions, relationships, needs, etc., which are part of richness and enjoyment of life — but also are the reason of the complexity of our thinking.
We get continually bullied by opportunities which seem to be attractive and get pressurised by them thereby making our lives more complex. Sometimes fear of boredom leads you into a complexity of temptations and pressures of ‘have to do things.’ This makes our thinking a complex process driving us to busyness, approval of others, anxiety, performance and control.
Some of this complexity is created by us and some we accept and take on as part of our daily lives. Having things to take care of, people to deal with or processes to attend to, our thoughts create clutter giving rise to complicated ideas and create confusion and disappointments. We get caught up in the day-to-day complex tasks we have to get done and often run out of time to do the things that really matter and those that are essential.
We get so comfortable things being familiar and certain way that we don’t want to find simpler way of doing things. Simplicity in thinking is something that is deliberate and intentional and should be a choice you make. By adopting to a ‘simple perspective’ in your thinking, you can free yourself from all the distractions and you can maximise your focus on that which is essential, can eliminate complexities, create effective solutions and can reach your objectives or goals much faster.
Simplicity makes it easier to do things. But finding a simpler way is usually not that simple.
The perspective of ‘simple thinking’
Complex is something which is hard to understand, explain, or deal with and leads to inefficiency, wastage of time, attention and mental energy in unnecessary things. But there is always a much simpler way of doing things. The perspective of ‘simple thinking’ and doing is always possible and is very important to improve efficiency and to reduce stress, anxiety and frustration. By identifying areas, matters and procedures which seem unnecessary and replacing them with simple processes, you can learn to take action much faster.
“When we begin pursuing a more simple, intentional life, we obtain a new perspective.”
Perspective of ‘simple thinking’ is a value, a habit and an attitude of mind as much as it is a process. You accept something complex because you are not looking for simple solutions and your outputs also tend to be complex. Simplicity will not happen unless you are prepared to work hard and make a real effort to achieve it. The emphasis needs to be on simple perspective at every moment of your decision-making process.
‘Is there a simpler way to do this?’
‘Is this really necessary?’
‘Does this add to simplicity or complexity?’
By having the intention of making something simple, you can prioritise your actions towards simple processes.
Ways to achieve a ‘simple perspective’
Many of us consider thinking as a complex process because we have never made any attempt to make it simpler. We tie ourselves up in complex rules when in reality, most of our practical thinking takes place in ‘simple perspective’ and is mostly based on self-organising system of brain. So, We can design simple tools for thinking to improve productivity in number of ways and for a more focused effort.
You need not always depend on major changes to make things simple. You can Make slight changes in small things to simplify your efforts of doing difficult things.
Here are some small changes that can be made to achieve ‘simple perspective’ in your efforts of achieving your tasks.
One thing at a time
We are capable of thinking many things at the same time. But if you find matters getting too complex, then it is always better to pay attention to only one thing at a time. It does not mean that you cannot do more than one thing at a time — but you choose not to for the moment.
Express in words
Complexity is difficult to cope with while it remains out of consciousness and you will find it difficult to arrive at decisions. When something seems complex and difficult, verbalise why you are making that choice, the reasons behind your decision. This can simplify and clarify your decision-making process.
Complexity arises when you are trying to deal with more than one matter at same time. If there are two separate issues, separate them out and deal with each one on its own. Analyse and break it down to deal with it one at a time.
Take small steps
If the task is complex, it can be broken down into tiny steps. Certain tasks may seem impossibly complex on the whole, but if broken down to small steps, each step can be simple and doable. It is simpler to focus on the next step than to focus on the entire task.
Concepts are a broad and general way of simplifying things. They simplify the action into stages. Making use of concepts in thinking can simplify your efforts. Once the concept is formed, the details of the concept will still need to be worked out but they set the direction of the action.
Think in stages
Always have a clear objective in mind and figure out how to reach the objective.
• The direction to reach your objective.
• The concepts that can be used in order to move in that direction.
• The ideas that can be used to put those concepts into action.
Thinking in this kind of framework helps you arrive at possible action alternatives to achieve your complex tasks.
Do things slowly
If your mind is minimally occupied, as in doing things slowly, it will be more able to have new ideas. This also helps the mind to clarify or simplify things and requires discipline and concentration.
Things which were needed at one time may be no longer needed. Shedding approach simply involves throwing things out and putting nothing in their place. Sometimes things are ‘unnecessary’ or ‘redundant’. If these things add to clarity they should be retained, but if they add to the complexity of the situation, they should be shredded and thrown out.
Clarity and simplicity go together. What is the situation? What do we really need to do? What is going on? Questions of this sort can clarify and provide thorough understanding of the situation or process. The perspective of simple thinking comes from thorough understanding.
As a self-organising information system, our brain allows incoming information to organise itself into routine patterns. Once we identify with these patterns, we flow along with them without much effort. Setting up routines can simplify your perception and action.
Be determined to seek simplicity.
When things are highly complicated we do often wish for simple perspective. But when things are not complicated we rarely strive to make something simple. Always find simpler ways of doing things. Make the ‘simple perspective’ as part of your normal thinking process to free up time, reduce stress and to make better decisions.
Put yourself in ‘simple perspective’
• Be determined to make an active effort to make things more simple.
• Be motivated and creative to arrive at a possible simple, effective and practical solution to a problem.
• Have the willingness to simplify process instead of coping with complexity.
• Look for simple alternatives and be willing to invest time and effort in that search.
• Spell out in words what you are seeking to achieve. This creates a path to move in defined direction thereby avoiding unnecessary.
• Design the ideal simple process and then seek to work incrementally step by step.
• Consider all the things you are busy with right now and consider how few of these are really necessary.
• Take notice of your habits and cut back on clutter, distractions and focus on the essentials.
“Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
Many of us accept what life gives us instead of going out and creating things for ourselves. Those who have the determination to achieve their goals always surge ahead to chase their frontiers of success. Success largely depends on living with right intent, virtues, purpose and direction.
Successful are not necessarily smarter or more talented than their less successful counterparts. They are only more disciplined, determined and courageous to use their will power in righteous ways in getting what they want. Many smart people fall by the wayside because they strive only when there are short bursts of motivation or either they use will power without the right purpose. Perseverance is an important trait to develop in order to become successful.
Perseverance is diligently working towards challenges and the ability to maintain the effort over long periods of time despite facing difficulties in the path. Motivation and Will Power help you persist in your endeavours.
Why Motivation is important?
When you want to achieve something or when you act out of desire to pursue a habit or a goal, you depend upon the feeling of motivation or interest. Motivation is like a welcome wind at your back that helps you to stay persistent. Motivation can vary in nature depending on the factors that influence you to pursue your goal.
You tend to act on extrinsic motivation when you expect something in the form of reward or act because you will be punished. For instance, you exercise because you want to be complimented on how you look. This kind of motivation has its downsides as it only lasts as long as the external motivator is applied and you value it. Extrinsic motivators can be created in order to achieve a particular habit or a goal.
You are intrinsically motivated when you do something because you find it inherently satisfying. May be you eat healthy food because you prefer the taste. This is more powerful than extrinsic, but the downside is that there is not always a way to create it. This depends on your interests, likes and passion.
This motivation comes from the desire to help others or support a cause you care about. This can be very powerful motivation and has both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. For instance, you might want to work harder to create something that will benefit people.
Knowing why your goal is important and finding what motivates lets you build positive aspects that support your chosen purpose. Tapping into your motivational energies improves your ability to persevere.
Sometimes, when we plan to take up one goal or purpose like learning a new sport or losing weight, we enjoy motivating ourselves for short period, but after the initial gratification, when things get harder, when there are certain obstacles, most of us feel stuck and we are unable to push through. That is when you should rely on the will power to carry you through.
“Use motivation when you find it, but rely on willpower when you don’t.”
Motivation only works in the moment. In order to persist in non-windy days, you have to rely on your Willpower.
Here are some ways to strengthen your will power to move in the direction of your goals.
Sometimes failure and difficulties distort the perception of your goals. It also distorts the perception of your abilities. You should learn to endure the situations that seem to be against. Learn to tolerate the unfavourable situations and overcome the obstacles in order to pursue your goals. In the pursuit of your goal you might face rejection and criticism. Strengthen your willpower by being tolerant and to be independent of the opinion of others.
Be patient with yourself
“Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing”it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”
Seeking a goal makes you impatient with your progress. Most of us suffer from the expectation of immediate gratification ‘I must have it now.’ We don’t have the patience to wait and get irritable if we have to. Impatience is a resistance to learning. We want the answers without doing the steps necessary. Impatience weakens your willpower to persist. If you are patient, you can nurture the seeds of will to achieve your goal.
Establish a routine
You can achieve a little bit of something if you learn to follow a simple routine which requires to little or no effort. Sometimes establishing a routine with proper rest and not putting too much pressure can make the daunting process of pursuing your goal much easier. When it is broken into small steps and repeated every single day, it becomes an automatic behaviour. Establish similar routines for every goal you want to achieve.
Develop mental toughness
You can train your willpower to help you handle difficult situations so that you can persevere without losing confidence. Mental toughness can be developed by exposing yourself to tough situations. This way you can slowly push your limits and can expand your safe zone. Continuous small improvements will ensure you won’t give up on your goal. Apply time-limited and quantity-limited discipline to make yourself mentally tough.
Focus on what is in your control
Willpower involves self-control. By controlling your habits and tendencies, you can accomplish what you will. Breakdown your goal in question to those aspects that are in control. Then go through the aspects that are not in control. You will need to determine what you can and cannot control. Your behaviour is the only thing you can control by applying your will. Focus only those things that are in your control.
“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.”
Developing passion in whatever you do helps you to persevere longer. Having realistic expectations and figuring out what is that you really care about and what matters you most improves your perseverance. There is no added pressure and the interest will make you stick to the goal you are pursuing.
Stop trying too hard
Sometimes exerting too much pressure causes lapses in your willpower. Like the muscles get fatigued when they are overworked, similarly your willpower can fail you when it is overworked and undernourished. Be aware of how much effort and willpower you are exerting. You must avoid situations where your willpower will be continuously taxed without rest. Engage yourself in certain activities that you find relaxing and refreshing in order to restore your will.
Transform your negative habits
To make yourself persistent at your efforts you must liberate yourself from negative tendencies. Some psychological traits or behaviour that we pick from others tend to shape our life. They produce patterns that appear fixed and automatic. We have to exert force of our will to change our negative habits. Make use of the opportunities to transcend these negative habits to gain better control of your will.
Shying away from risk and wallowing in self-pity puts you off from going after things you really want. Just going with the flow because it’s easier weakens your willpower and cannot persevere during tough times. Create a plan and stick to it with certain amount of discipline. Discipline yourself by being in charge of your thoughts to organise your behaviour towards a specific goal.
If you are pessimistic and have been reinforcing negative thought patterns your whole life, you need to make an effort to break out of those and start thinking in a more positive and success oriented manner. Mindfulness can be practiced as an intentional form of meditation to restructure your negative thought patterns and to strengthen your willpower.
Finally, In any of our efforts there are bound to be difficulties, moments of doubt, anxiety, disappointment and setbacks. But we most likely overcome if those efforts contribute to something larger than ourselves and give us meaning. Find the right purpose as it can be a powerful source of motivation for you to persevere and be patient as it can take time to overcome your negative thoughts and habits.
Try and apply the above steps to persevere in your endeavours.
Know what is it that you want to achieve. Know how you are going to achieve them. Replace negative self-talk with positives.If you aren’t getting enough, try new approaches to persevere.
“What we perceive as needs and what we perceive as wants, influence the choices we make.”
NEEDS motivate human behaviour and they correspond to certain beliefs we have. For every habit we have, for every experience we go through over and over, for every pattern we repeat, there is NEED within us for it. Primary influences on our decisions and choices we make in our lives are often the perceptions we have of our needs and wants.
If there were not a need, we wouldn’t have it, do it, or be it. In other words we are always motivated by our needs. Both needs and wants represent the desired results we strive to achieve. They are important influences. Many times we might end up choosing a want over a need. We are often pushed and pulled in many directions with a need elevating the choice of one want over that of another want. Differentiating NEEDS from WANTS helps us to weigh our options more carefully by knowing what is influencing our decision.
NEEDS are different from WANTS
You may WANT your NEEDS, but more frequently, you end up wanting things that are not really associated with your needs. Needs are gaps in results and there is a satisfier to close those gaps. Needs have purpose and there are always multiple alternative satisfiers to any need.
WANTS are choices we make on the basis of what we believe is important. There is nothing wrong with wanting things. What is important is that we should be able to differentiate between our needs and our wants with their satisfiers in order to take better decisions. By focusing on what we want, we may miss the things we need most to meet our goals. The decisions we make are directly proportional to the needs we have to satisfy.
Nature of NEEDS
Some needs are instrumental and their existence depends on there being an end goal or purpose. They are gone once the goal is achieved. Some needs are absolutes. They just exist. For instance, you can never overcome a continual need for food, water and shelter. Understanding the nature of needs as whether they are absolutes or instrumental is important to recognise their implications on how we consider needs within our lives.
The needs at personal level might vary from absolutes to being instrumental. First, you must meet your basic-level needs ( such as food and shelter) then needs of safety (such as personal, financial, health and well-being) before you are motivated to focus on higher-level needs (such as belonging, creativity).
The needs at societal level to achieve our societal ambitions like well-being, survival, and quality of life are absolutes. Needs at organisational level are instrumental. Universal needs for competence, freedom, and psychological relatedness motivate our behaviour and these needs are absolutes. They are essential to our psychological health and well-being.
Know your NEEDS
Our decisions are responsive to our needs. We know our needs by feeling them, as we feel strong desires or emotions. Needs are more like medical conditions, they have signs and symptoms. Through these symptoms you get to know your needs. We always get motivated to take certain actions in order to reduce the internal tension that is caused by unmet needs. Think about the nature of needs in your life. Are they absolute? or do they serve a purpose? Knowing their nature provides you a better perspective.
Struggle between our needs and wants influence our decisions, though most of us pay little attention to them. Identifying and assessing your needs can improve your decisions and help you achieve valuable results.
Here are some changes you can make to improve the quality of results you get from your decisions.
IDENTITY your needs
Here is a simple way to identify your needs. Look back into your past and ask yourself what needs were being met whenever you made right decisions. Make a list of your needs, check them by asking is this true need for me or do I want it because of something. This way you can identify your actual needs and not confuse yourself with wants.
ASSESS your needs
You can make comparisons among your needs and use the information to guide your decisions. Identify your needs and assess them by comparing the results you want to accomplish to the results you are currently achieving.
MEASURE your needs
Needs should be assessed and measured in order to help guide your decisions towards your desired result. Measure gaps in results by subtracting the current result from the desired result.
FOCUS on the results
Focus on the results you want to accomplish first. “ if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” If you don’t know what results you want to achieve, then any decision will do. Plan your actions by aligning with your goals and objectives. If you have a purpose, you know how and what you need to do and can assess your needs accordingly.
PRIORITISE your needs
Understanding the purpose and results help you prioritise your needs. Do not just limit your needs to just being those things which you can’t live without.
Write down the results you would like to accomplish in a year and compare this to your current result, assess your gap and prioritise and take your actions to close the gap.
THINK of wants as Underlying needs
We often fail when we try and cut back completely on our wants because of their happiness inducing nature. Wants are just an expression of underlying needs. Totally cutting out our wants will never last because we are actually cutting that need. Think of a want in your life and what underlying need(s) you are fulfilling with that want. Decide on ways to fulfil those underlying needs.
Know your OPTIONS
You will improve your decision-making by considering options. All needs have multiple satisfiers. Look for different options even though you think one satisfier is going to be the best choice. There are always multiple ways to achieve any result. Thus, there are other alternatives to consider.
RECONSIDER your needs
When the need pops as “I need to….” ask yourself what results you really want to achieve. Do you really need it? Or is it want? or can you change things so you don’t need it? Do not elevate any want to the level of need as yet. Always think of what purpose it is going to serve if you fulfil it. This way you will be able to take right decisions and be at your personal best rather than being part of the rat race.
Finally, push yourself to think bigger than your personal needs or organisational needs. Work with others and align for higher purpose. Doing so will give you a broader perspective and help you define your needs more concretely.