You Can’t Be a Leader Without This

The secret sauce of influence.

Image credit: Olu Eletu

You are in complete control of the life you create — your destiny, your failures, and your successes.

If you don’t believe that, you’ve let other things hijack your personal power.

Circumstances. Other people. Whatever. When you refuse to take charge of your own personal leadership, you choose to be a victim instead of a leader. It looks like this:

  • Blame someone else. (“It’s their fault.”)
  • Blame the circumstances so you can justify what happened. (“I can’t help what happened.”)
  • Feel ashamed and blame yourself, but not learn from your mistake. (“I’m a loser.”)
  • Complain. (A passive/aggressive way of expressing your unhappiness.)

The common result in each scenario? Zero growth. And if you don’t grow, you can’t get better.

Why do people do that?

We all “get something” from the behavior we choose, even the bad, unproductive, immature, petulant, drama-filled behavior.

But what on earth could we possibly get out of blaming, justifying, feeling ashamed, or complaining?

The answer is, attention.

Attention feels good. For some, it fills a a void they’ve confused with love, power, or significance. But it’s a trap. Because of it’s fleeting nature, it never fully satisfies, and because it relies on the response of others, it leaves one powerless to choose their own happiness.

You can be a victim or you can be a leader, but you can’t be both.

What does this have to do with leadership?

You can’t be an influential leader without taking responsibility for every part you play in everything that happens to you.

Growth as a leader comes from your ability and choice to recognize how you “got here” and learn from everything that happens to you.

Please note, I’m not talking about “fault” — that you are somehow to blame for circumstances beyond your control. I’m talking about taking resonsibility for the role you played in whatever happened, whether it was intentional or not.

That’s a tough mental shift for someone who has experienced failure, betrayal, abuse, scorn, abandonment, heartbreak, or loss. Those are not cirumstances that naturally instill resilience.

It strips away the blanket of excuses that keep you comfortably average.

However, owning the role you played in each event is empowering because it means you can deliberately and intentionally shape what happens going forward.

Absorbing the idea that only you have the power to create your own success is the foundation of personal leadership. It is the fundamental way exceptionally effective leaders think.

Someone else can’t workout, eat or not eat, sleep, blame, justify, feel shame, or complain for you. And someone else can’t take personal responsibility for your level of success. It’s all you.

Now what?

If you want to become an exceptional, influential, impactful leader, — the kind that truly steps up and takes charge — start today by asking yourself the following questions in everything that happens:

  • What was my role in how this turned out?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • What will I do differently in the future?
  • How can I turn this into something good?
  • What is the most critical step to take in moving forward from here?

Before you go…

If you’d like a few simple steps to becoming more influential, you’ll find 3 unusual ways to lead with confidence right here.


Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on February 1, 2017.

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