I had the pleasure of hearing Dr Tim Elmore speak at the Super Summit in Atlanta on 2.2.13. I’m taking time this summer to read his collection of books called Habitudes. Since I’ve had this collection for over a year, if I don’t work on it now, I’ll be head-long into the Principal’s mind-bending, sleep-deprived craziness that preceeds the start of school each year. Below are a few notes I took as I read.
THE ART OF SELF-LEADERSHIP
1. The Iceberg
10% above water =your skill, 90% below water = your character. Four parts of Character: self-discipline, core values, sense of identity, emotional security. Your skill may get you to the top – but it’s your character that will keep you there. While leadership skills are good to have, it does not good to develop your skills at the expense of your character and integrity. True leadership is built from the inside out. Leaders who last, place ‘being’ before ‘doing’.
2. The Starving Baker
We’re like the baker who spends so much time baking bread for others, we forget to eat ourselves. Leaders must feed themselves for personal growth. So many leaders fail to tend to themselves, and eventually are unable to really serve others. They are starving intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. He just wasn’t taking time to invest in his own personal growth. He burned out because he ‘ran out of gas’. His tank was on empty. He had nothing to give. She took care of herself so she could take care of others. As selfish as it may sound, the best way leaders can serve and grow their people is to tend to their own growth first.
3. The Golden Buddha
Good leaders take personal inventory of their strengths and gifts. This shapes their self-image and, consequently, their results.
4. Thermostat and Thermometer
People are either thermometers or themostats. They wil merely reflect the climate around them, or they will set it. Most people are like thermometers. They tend to reflect the culture around them. They buy things that others buy, say things that others say, wear things that others wear and value things that others value. Oh, there are slight variations. But most people don’t set the ‘climate’ for the world they live in. They just mirror back that climate. Are you a thermostat, who acts based on principles and values you embrace, or do you react to situations like a thermometer, reflecting the temperature in the room?
5. Fun House Mirror
Poor leaders look at themselves in a fun house mirror, pretending or posing to be better than they really are. Our character is the true relection of who we are. Leadership can be intimidating. Most of us feel that we don’t measure up. We have this quiet fear that if people really knew us, they woudn’t want us as their friend, not to mention their leader. When we feel inadequate, we often become inauthentic. The old phrase is true – eventually, your sins will find you out. People desire authentic leaders. I love the word authentic. It comes from the term ‘to author’. Authentic ledaders author their own life, they don’t post as someone else. The word ‘integrity’ is misunderstood. It simply means to be whole. To have integrity doesn’t mean w have perfect character; it means we are not hypocritical.
6. The Oversized Gift
Leaders can begin to depend on their gift for success, to the neglect of their character. They sabatoge themselves when their gift is bigger than they are. Are big talents bad? Not at all. We love to see people with graet talent perform or lead. But often the inner life is left underdeveloped due to the spotlight on the outer life. Charisma becomes mammoth. Character becomes minimized. There are times I must remind myself that the life I’m building is my own life. I can take shortcuts, but I will only hurt myself. Its true for everyone. We can misuse our talent and try to project an image for our colleagues, but eventually the inside truth about us will come out.
7. Personal Laptop
GIGO = Garbage in, garbage out. Leaders are disciplined about what they store in the mind and heart.Leaders work hard at investing the right material inside themselves. They also work hard avoiding the wrong materials, so that what comes out – is right. What we are filled with does spill out. What are you feeding your mind and heart today?
8. Pop Quiz
Leaders all experience tests at each state of their growth. Our goal in every case should be to pass the test. Testing always precedes promotion. Self-prootion can never replace authentic promotion. Just as a product is never used until it is tested, so it is with us. I soon learned that tests usually come at critical points through an event or a person. Further, I recognized that how I responded to each test either became a tombstne or a stepping stone for my growth.
9. Emotional Fuel
Leaders run on fuel, emotional fuel. Becuase leaders spend themselves more than the average person, they need to refuel more often than most people do. Leadership is more emotionally expensive than friendship. Leaders need people in their lives who don’t take from them, but who replenish them. If they don’t have this network of people in place, they will use their followers to meet this need. This almost always leads to unhealthy situations. Needy people lead because their tank is empty and they need their followers to fill them up. Your perspective will be skewed by your own needs rather than what is best for your organization or team. Never lead out of need.
10. Opportunity Statue
Leaders manage opportunities. Everyone has 86,400 seconds each day to use or abuse. Time is fleeting. You never get it back once it gone. Leaders understand this truth, and they manage their time wisely. “Teach us to number our days, O Lord, that we may apply our hearts with wisdom.” Sometimes I confuse activity with accomplishment. I think staying busy is the goal. And when I take a break from the busy-ness, I tend to amuse myself with entertainment. But busy-ness or amusement isn’t the goal in life. It is doing what counts, one activity at a time.
11. Discipline Bridge
Personal discipline is like a bridge that crosses from where you are to where you want to be. It gets you where you want to go. Discipline is like those bridges that help me get to whre I need to go. In order to repair the damage I need to build a bridge of discipline to get me there. In fact, any time I need to get somewhere difficult, discipline is usually the bridge I must cross to get there. It takes time and effort to build it, but once their bridge is in place it actually makes the journey easy. At first, being disciplined seems hard – like you are adding one more item on your daily list of chores. But it’s not true. Over time, discipline is a bridge not a burden. It makes the journey easier if you’ll hang with it. Real discipline will get you from desire to reality. It is a long bridge. It won’t get you there overnight. Pschologists suggest it takes at least fourteen days of discipline to build a good habit.
12. The Half-Hearted Kamikaze
You cannot have involvement without commitment and be effective. It goes with the territory. Leaders possess commitment. They cannot be involved without being committed. The rest of the world may enjoy involvement without commitment, but we cannot, as emerging leaders. Because our world offers us so many options, we tend to not commit ourselves because we don’t want to narrow our focus. We want to do it all! The problem i, we can’t do it all. I have said many times: leaders can do anything but they can’t do everything. Talk is cheap. Half-hearted kamikazes are a dime a dozen. The reason other folks likve such quality live and possess such great influence is that they do more than talk. Commitment = sacrifice, purpose, determination.
13. Drivers and Passengers
When life goes bad, people blame someone else for the problem. They act like passengers. Leaders realize they are drivers – and are responsible for their attitudes and destination in life.Being a driver is about responsibility. It’s about ownership. They take responsibility for the direction of their lives. Three areas leaders choose to be drivers and refuse to be passengers: positive attitude, persistent fortitude, purposeful latitude. People feel they can trust a driver, not a passenger. That is my challenge for you , the rest of your life.