Leading Your Life: Part 1

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The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership

When you’re just living life, you experience the everyday frustrations of most people. Maybe you work too much, but you still don’t feel like you ever really get on top of things. You get stressed. You don’t work out as much as you should, or you might not have any down time at all. You get testy in traffic and short with your kids. You don’t get to spend as much time with your spouse as you might want. As a result, you often feel guilty. When you’re at home, you think you should be at work; when you’re working, you think you should be at home. But this is a busy time, you tell yourself. Right now life’s a little crazy and I just have to get things done. Even though you’d say you’re happy enough, most of the time anyway, there are plenty of times you wonder if life is passing you by.Are you leading your life or just living it?

When you’re leading your life, you experience everyday as a gift to be opened. You know what’s coming today, because it will be just as you planned it – or even better. You spend your time on the things that are most impactful and most important to you. At work, you’re able to tackle the challenges with confidence and ease. You feel focused, accomplished, and relaxed. At home, you feel content and at peace. No need for guilt, because you’ve made your decisions wisely and in alignment with your values. You spend time with the ones you love, and you still have time for yourself. You may be busy, but it’s a good busy. Best of all, you’re having fun! You’re invested in your life, and you feel rewarded every day.

There are ten practices that will help you lead yourself – a process we can call personal leadership. In this article, we look at the first five of these practices as a place to start.

The First Practice: Get Clarity
What do you want?

The first practice of personal leadership is getting clarity. In business, “clarity” equates to setting a vision. For leaders, clarity means having the skill to get such a vision quickly, consciously, and confidently again and again as circumstances change and evolve. When you are clear about what you want, you are able to describe it in vivid detail. You know what it will take to get there and how it will feel to arrive.

The Second Practice: Find Focus
Where will you put your attention?

The second practice of personal leadership is finding focus. In business, “focus” is often achieved through a strategic plan. For leaders, focus comes from the process of prioritization, giving them the ability to cut through the clutter of a crowded mind.

The Third Practice: Take Action
What do you need to do?

The third practice of personal leadership is taking action – not just any action, but action that is targeted and effective. In business, action can be random, disorganized and endless. Leaders must be more clever than that. You must not just organize your actions but catalyze them to find the swiftest, most powerful ways to attain multiple goals with ease.

The Fourth Practice: Tap Into Your Brilliance
What’s unique about you?

The fourth practice of personal leadership is seeing your brilliance. In business, the focus tends to be on weakness. From performance reviews to data analysis, the question always seems to be, “Where are we failing and how do we fix it?” Leaders need to ask a different question: “Where do I excel, and how do I leverage my talents for the best possible results?” Thus you improve not by changing who you are, but by becoming more of who you are.

The Fifth Practice: Experience Fulfillment
What motivates and inspires you?

Experiencing fulfillment is the fifth practice of personal leadership. In business, fulfillment is often substituted with rewards. If you work hard and do well, you will receive such remuneration as a salary, a raise or a bonus. But leaders don’t just need to be rewarded, they need to feel rewarded with an experience of motivation, contribution, and meaning. When you experience fulfillment, you move from success to significance.

These practices help leaders take the lead. All ten practices are described in detail in The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership.

Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D.

Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D. (http://joellekjay.com/) is an executive coach who strategizes with business leaders to enhance performance and maximize business results. Her book, The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, shows leaders how to improve their effectiveness by learning to lead themselves. Her newsletter, The Inner Edge Quarterly, offers articles, exercises, tips, quotes, and success stories from real leaders to help you excel.

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