Out of all the leadership resources, tools, workshops and gurus in the world today, each and every one of us has direct access to the most important and impactful leadership resource known to man. To humbly and wholeheartedly take on the challenge provided by this resource is to engage in the most difficult, yet impactful and rewarding leadership development work possible. Better yet, it is 100% portable. There is an investment required, but that investment has less to do with money and more to do with your time and willingness to commit. Are you ready for a peek? Find the nearest mirror and take a look. The amazing resource I am speaking of is staring back at you in that mirror. To truly lead others and to do it well, we must learn to better lead ourselves.
There is ancient wisdom that speaks to this and paints a vivid picture of what it looks like. As old as it is, it is just as relevant today as it was when it was written in the 1st Century. From the Gospel of Matthew (vs. 3, 5 ESV):
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. “
From this simple passage we can identify three key elements to first leading oneself, to be better equipped to lead others. These key elements are self-awareness, self-care and service.
It all begins with self-awareness. The passage above brings this up with some well-intended exaggeration and humor. It seems absurd that someone wouldn’t notice something like a log in their eye. Yet we often notice people criticizing others for a behavior they find undesirable (a speck) even while they themselves exhibit a similar behavior, and in grander scale (log). They are ignoring their own log, while focusing on the speck of another. Now, here is where that mirror comes into play again. If we notice this in so many others, who are we to think that we are not “guilty” of the same? What logs of my own am I totally missing, or just plain ignoring? Many times they are the very things that we see, and are frustrated by, in others. When we catch ourselves in these moments it is important that we press into those feelings of frustration to discern the true reason we are feeling critical of someone. This sheds light on any logs of our that need attention first.
Next is self-care. Once we discover the logs in our own eyes, the only way we can truly remove them is through self-care. Rather than belittling or berating ourselves for allowing the log to be there in the first place, we instead give ourselves some grace and seek out the support and resources we need to tackle that log head on. In doing so we further develop our self-awareness, perspective, humility and graciousness toward ourselves and those we lead.
Finally, it’s time to put the growth and learning we’ve gained to work by using it as a foundation for serving others. While walking the journey from awareness to removal of our own logs of undesirable behavior, we grow in our ability to effectively guide and support those we lead in removing the specks that impede their vision, growth and progress.
You want to be a better leader of others? Focus first on better leading yourself.