In my early 30’s I needed to change the direction of life. I went through several years in my late twenties without having a real compass of authentic leadership. I needed to reflect deeply on my career, relationships and my personality. My life changed for the better the day I accepted full responsibility for everything that happened to me. Good or bad- It was on me.
If I wanted a better future I needed to change quickly. I began to turn my life around by examining and thinking of ways to become better in every area of my life. I dedicated time to reading and consistently invest in my personal development.
It felt like a therapeutic exercise as some of the books I read were The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey, Personal Power by Anthony Robbins, and I also began to read John Maxwell’s leadership books. I moved up the ranks in my job and worked with teams, so I needed to learn how to lead people.
My life began to turn around as I got better. I began to model leadership behaviors to not only add value to myself, but focusing on other people’s needs working on building healthy relationships.
It took years to grow and mature to realize not only the principles of authentic leadership, but through experiencing some setbacks and failing forward, I learned to model an acceptable leadership behavior.
In my personal development, I picked up a book called A Higher Standard of Leadership by Keshavan Nair, Lessons from the life of Gandhi.
In the book, there is a story about the time when Gandhi was asked by a British Journalist to send a message to the United States, especially for African Americans during the 60s. Gandhi responded, “My life is my message.”
Each of our lives is a message, too. If you reflect on what he said, it’s leadership by example. Gandhi was a great leader because of his personal example of how he lived his life. He was never in a positon of authority or a political figure.
Leadership is a positive influence. You don’t need a title or a position to lead. More importantly, it’s your actions that would make you or break you. Ralph Waldo Emerson rightfully said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
As a leader, can your life be a message to other people? Is it inspiring and motivating for others to follow? I ask myself this question every single day. I can only answer it though my daily actions. That’s how my life will be judged. Not what I said or what I communicated at any point of time, but what did I really contribute to life.
Three questions which could help us reflect on how to lead a life of an inspiring message to others:
What can I do today to make a positive impact in the lives of others?
Notice I said DO! It’s a behavioral question that can only be measured through your own personal modeling of serving others. Each person may contribute in a different way but as John Quincy Adams once remarked, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
What kind of a person and a leader am I becoming?
Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker once said that, “Success is something you attract by the person you become.” What does it mean for you? Work on yourself in order to add value to others. If you are not adding value to yourself on a daily basis, most likely you are not adding value to others in the process of creating an inspiring life.
Is my leadership leaving a lasting impression?
The legacy of your leadership will always be measured by other’s people perceptions and opinions. We know we can’t make everyone happy, but ponder on how you can leave a lasting legacy and create memories for most people. Make sure it’s an inspired and meaningful one.