Leadership must begin in oneself. Before we can effectively lead other people, we must first learn how to effectively lead ourselves. Consider the following questions. How can you motivate others if you can’t even motivate yourself? How can you move other people if you can’t even move yourself? How can you develop others if you don’t have personal development? The leader is the head of the body, and if the head is weak, the body also weakens. Hence, you must learn how to lead yourself to become a better leader.
Leadership and selflessness
Starting leadership from yourself may sound selfish but the truth is… it is the opposite of selfishness, and it is what we called selflessness. Yes it is, and it’s because leadership is a thing that isn’t material. When a person desires spiritual things for himself, such as his own kindness, he becomes selfless. This is in contrast to a person who desires too much material things for himself, such as money, where he becomes selfish and greedy. The reason is that a spiritual thing like kindness is an infinite and eternal thing than can be shared to everyone without exhaustion. Of course money and other material things are limited and cannot be shared to everyone without coming to an end.
It must be understood that when you desire good and spiritual things for yourself, which cannot be seen, you are also making yourself spiritual – a self who is invisible. That is the reason why a person becomes selfless. Just like when you are giving your money and time to the poor, you are actually giving generosity to yourself. When you give respect to others, you’re actually giving respectfulness to yourself. And when you are prioritizing the welfare of other people, you’re also actually prioritizing kindness and helpfulness for yourself. This selflessness is very important in learning leadership of ourselves.
Leading yourself to lead others
Leading other people needs diligence, patience, humility, understanding and other great virtues of leadership. And who are supposed to produce those virtues? Of course it’s you – yourself. That is what leadership is all about; to be a leader is to be the first to serve. The leader, as a head, should be the root of creation and the catalyst of every action.
Leading yourself is just the same with leading other people. They are even directly related and interdependent to each other. You cannot lead others if you will not lead yourself. You can’t inspire your followers if you will not become an inspiration. A leader of inspiration is an inspired person. Furthermore, you cannot lead yourself without leading other people. You will not inspire yourself if you don’t want to serve as an inspiration to others. Did you get the point?
So how to effectively lead yourself?
The first step is to know yourself. Knowing yourself is a process of digging deep inside you. You should discover your principles. Understand that your principles are what forming you as a person. You’ve got to have a knowledge, understanding and a clear definition of yourself. Give attention to what you have done and what you are doing. Be silent; reflect, meditate and listen to what your heart is saying. With this, you will identify your strengths and weaknesses. And when you identify them, you should maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
If someone tells you to be yourself, don’t just do that right away. Assess yourself first. Is there goodness or righteousness inside you? If there’s none, then have those things first. After having them, then that’s the time that you can be yourself. In other words, don’t be true to yourself if your true self isn’t good.
To lead is also to follow. So if you want to lead yourself to the right path, you should also follow the right path. If you want to become a diligent, wise, patient and honest leader, you should also follow diligence, wisdom, patience and honesty. Leadership is not only about making yourself a master, but it is also about making yourself a servant. If you want to lead people to unity, peace and prosperity, then you should master how to unite people, how to be peaceful, and how to prosper in life. You will lead yourself by mastering the things that will bring you lasting success and by serving others which include other people and yourself.
“It’s not really a matter of whether you’re a leader or a follower, whether you’re a master or a servant, and whether it’s about people or about yourself… what matters is whether you are right or wrong.” -vqaj