Did you know…
You are the most important person you will lead this new year.
That may sound strange, but it is true. More important than leading your family, your employees, your church staff or congregation, your students or co-workers at school … you are the most important person you will lead tomorrow, next week and this whole new year!
I can tell you this with certainty because I have found it to be true of myself over the past decade.
I am the most important person I lead every single week.
That could sound very egotistical and self centered – but it absolutely is not meant to be received that way.
The fact is if I can’t effectively lead myself, I won’t be leading others for very long.
Just like you, I know so many leaders of people who are no longer leading people. Not because they weren’t great leaders of others, but because they couldn’t lead themselves.
Leading themselves over time actually turned out to be much more difficult than leading others. Which brings us to an additional learning: you are the most difficult person you will lead this new year.
So as we head into 2015, I want to stress the importance of self leadership and share with you four ways I lead myself every day.
Sometimes I find I have a handle on 2 or even 3 of the four, but that is not enough. In order for me to lead others well this coming year, I must lead myself well, and that means making sure I weave all four of these disciplines regularly into the fabric of my life.
If I feel like something is off…
If I am irritable…
If I get angry easily…
If I lack mercy…
If I don’t want to laugh…
If I feel a lack of confidence…
If my purpose is blurry…
If my passion is waning…
The first discipline I consider is my time with God.
When was the last time I spent some real time with God?
If the answer is 3 days or 7 days or more … then I have quickly found out why I am off in my leadership life.
I simply cannot lead others to God if I am not able to lead myself to God.
The fact is we all get so busy, and skipping time with God is very easy to do.
If you feel off in your leadership life just open your Bible on a single morning with a cup of coffee or over a one-hour lunch break, and you will be amazed at how quickly balance and confidence and passion and purpose can return to your life.
It only takes God one minute to accomplish what we could never do in a week or a year.
He can refresh, reinvigorate and repurpose your life in just a few moments in His Word.
I spend time every single morning reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, so I just read the chapter that corresponds to the day we are living. So if today is the 18th, I read Proverbs chapter 18. This takes very little time each morning, but it sets the tone and direction of my day, a day where I will, no doubt, be expected to lead myself and others well!
I post my favorite verses out of Proverbs that correspond to the day we are living each morning about 7:30am PST on my Twitter.
A second discipline I must have present in my life in order to lead myself and others well is rest.
In this world in which we live, rest is basically mocked.
To rest is weak.
To rest is to get behind.
To rest is to be lazy.
But all of that comes from the mind of those who are so driven to lead others every moment of the day that they cannot lead themselves.
Here are four great benefits of rest.
1. Rest restores alertness. When you get proper rest science says your sense of sight, hearing and taste are more on point.
2. Rest restores perspective. It is amazing the wisdom and perspective that one night’s sleep can provide a leader.
3. Rest restores productivity. There are many studies that have theorized and proven that we become increasingly less productive as the day moves along. A 2002 Harvard University study demonstrated a 30-minute nap boosted the performance of workers, returning their productivity to beginning-of-the-day levels.
4. Rest restores creativity. A short nap will often restore creative thoughts. When our minds have time to be refreshed they often wake with fresh creative thoughts that were missing during times of exhaustion.
Another discipline that increases my confidence and allows me to lead myself and others well is regular exercise. For me this does not mean being in the gym every morning or jogging every afternoon. In fact, I have learned that if I can get 4 days of exercise out of every week I feel pretty good about myself. And here is the key: feeling good about myself is what gives me the confidence to lead others well. If I do not feel good about myself, I will not feel good about leading others.
Exercise is a secret weapon of successful leaders. Seriously, I have talked to dozens of very high level, productive, admired leaders over the past decade, and the secret sauce that most all of them mix into their VERY BUSY days is exercise in some way, shape or form.
Again, this does not mean going to the gym for 3 hours every day, riding a bike for 300 miles a week or mastering cross-fit. It does not even mean spending money on a gym membership.
It can be as simple as starting with …
– 50 push ups when you wake up every morning and 50 before you go to bed
– 100 sit ups in the evening, even while you watch TV
– 20 minutes on the treadmill while you are watching ESPN
– 1-2 mile walk that after several months turns into a 1-2 mile jog or run
4. Obeyed Promptings
I get more life, energy, passion and confidence to lead others by listening to the quiet voice of God and letting Him lead me. The more I listen to God and follow His lead, the better I am able to lead others.
To me this is the secret sauce. If I have a constant string of obeyed promptings, that means I am listening to God daily and am available to build HIS kingdom; that is refreshing.
If I cannot remember the last time I heard from God, and I cannot recall a recent obeyed prompting, that often means I am building MY kingdom; that is exhausting.
There are only two kingdoms you can build on this earth: God’s or yours.
We should only strive to lead others after we have allowed God to lead us to build His Kingdom.
When I have all four of these disciplines woven into my life, I am very difficult to knock down. These daily habits provide tremendous balance and dexterity for me.
They allow me to lead others with energy, confidence, purpose and passion.
So … since you are the most important and difficult person you will lead this year, my challenge would be for you to discover what you need to do to lead YOU well this new year. Then do those things. Put them on your calendar now. Make appointments for time with God, rest, exercise, and obeyed promptings. Do whatever you need to do to lead the very best version of you this new year. Don’t be afraid to lead and take care of yourself.
Lead yourself well, so you can lead others well this new year.