In the current political climate and hazy economic landscape, whether you’re an employee, a freelancer or startup founder, cultivating self leadership is essential to help you maintain peace of mind, achieve your goals and preserve your sense of purpose.
Self leadership is about being able to influence yourself and others so you can achieve your career and life objectives.Self leadership is about being able to influence yourself & others so you can achieve your career & life objectives Click To Tweet
Meta skills are core skills, when learned, flower specific skills. Like, when you read and write more, you become a better storyteller. Or mastering speed-learning might help you hire effectively. Like the time I needed a new website, someone quoted £7,000 for a project, which I knew only took a few hours. I’m not a website developer, but I learned enough to get the job done well for £500.
To prepare you to navigate uncertainty, and not merely survive, but thrive through all seasons, I believe cultivating self leadership is essential, and mastering these meta skills keeps you ready.
When you stay ready you don’t have to get ready. – Will Smith
Seven self leadership meta-skills to help you thrive in all seasons.
This skill underpins everything. Mind mastery is essentially being aware of your thoughts and that you are separate from them. Being aware of your thoughts and the dis-empowering stories you tell yourself helps you cultivate self-awareness. When you detach from thoughts, you don’t get pulled into the roller-coaster ride they take you for hours on end.
When you can control your mind, you avoid reacting or making assumptions, you reduce worry and stress, you can be happier, make better decisions, you can be more productive and creative. Also, you can’t influence others if you can’t influence yourself.
To get started, I recommend one minute daily meditation. Also generally be aware of your thoughts. From time to time, ask yourself, “what am I thinking”. Doing so lets you observe thoughts, and when you do, you detach from them.
The rate of change is insane, speed learning is a critical skill to stay relevant and maintain your ability to add more value to your colleagues and clients than anyone else. Begin by deconstructing anything new you’re learning. One way of learning something is think about how you might teach it to someone else. This forces you to chunk it down and then reconstruct it.
All leaders are readers. Learn to speed read so you can read more. Tony Buzan’s Speed Reading Book helped me accelerate from taking three weeks reading an average non-fiction book, to finishing in half a day. Leaders read widely, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Doing so helps you become smarter, empathetic, and creative. And a better writer.
When you write better, you send emails people read; you can write essays, articles, and books to serve more people and position yourself as an expert in your company and industry. Stephen King’s On Writing is a great place to start understanding the craft.
My definition of better writing is, writing for the reader instead of writing for you. So selflessness and brevity is critical. Why should readers waste time wading through your words to find the point. I’m still learning. My wife tells me to read my articles out loud before publishing them. That’s a really good tip. In your mind it makes sense, but out loud it sounds gibberish. So read out loud before hitting publish/ send. 😉
Oh, and writing is critical to help you speak better.
All great leaders are powerful speakers. If you’re scared of public speaking, like I was, join Toastmasters, there should be one in your city. Practise and develop your skills. For help structuring your talks, get Talk Like Ted, it helped me write my first TEDx talk. Overcoming the fear of public speaking fills you with tremendous confidence, it gave me the courage to pursue my passion. Toastmaster club members end up getting promotions and landing dream jobs from their new found confidence and skills.
With public speaking, I always tell people to practise each talk at the very minimum twenty times. Because the first ten times you’re just trying to memorise the words. The next ten practises lets you focus on the performance, which includes your tone, pitch, pace, body language. It’s how you say it that separates average speakers from the truly great.
How to sell & influence
To succeed, you’ll need help from people. You might need to hire A-players, land new jobs, get your boss to let you work on that new project, and so on. Most of activities you do involve people and getting them to take action or make decisions. When you learn the art and science of persuasion, you can move more people, get more done and achieve more success. You don’t have to be pushy or snake-oiled to sell, there are ways of doing so that keeps your soul intact. 😉
Selling is helping others get what they want, doing what they want, with your help.
Just remember this, to motivate people (which is what selling essentially is), you need to understand them and figure out what they want. Then see how you can help them get what they want either with your help or with someone else’s help. Learning how to influence makes you a better networker and negotiator.
It would be rude to not recommend my book: Grow Your Sales, Do What You Love: mindful selling for entrepreneurs and freelancers. It’s written for non-salespeople. My favorite sales book is The Go-Giver by Bob Burg.
Procrastination is the biggest killer of potential and dreams. Tonnes of studies show humans value instant gratification over delayed gratification (one of the reasons social media is so addictive). One of the many beauties of being human is, we are a bundle of habits. When you master the skill of developing habits fast, you can stack empowering ones to accelerate your success.
The trick with habit formation is starting super duper small! Like if you want to get a six-pack, start with one sit up a day. Yes, just one. Because when you’re on the floor doing one, you feel stupid, and then you’ll do two, then three, then four. By then you’re feeling good about yourself, and you’ll probably knock out twenty. So start small. And do it daily.
Also, we all pick up bad habits that don’t serve us. You can’t drop habits, you have to replace them with empowering ones.
Be the leader you want to see in the world – adapted from Gandhi
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the lack of leadership in the world. Instead of waiting for someone to guide you, take control of your destiny by cultivating self leadership. When you master these seven skills, you’ll develop the confidence and competence to reach your full potential, embrace opportunities you would otherwise let pass by, and create opportunities that never before existed. When you can embrace and create opportunities, you will create more value for your employers and clients. The more people you serve, the more influential you become.
Would love to know what you think. Have I missed anything?