“Lead Yourself First “


“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” By Rumi

Throughout history we have seen leaders rise and fall for various reasons, one being lack of self-leadership. The challenge is, there is often no specific process or procedure of exactly how one should get into a leadership position. Some get into leadership positions based on their skills or how long one has been in a particular organisation. Some get into leadership based on the desire of the masses and are thus voted into leadership roles.

Moreover some get in to leadership roles through unscrupulous means with an agenda of self-enrichment, while others get into leadership through their genuine desire to serve the people. Whichever means that a person uses to get into a leadership role, the worst that can happen is to do it at the exclusion of self-leadership. Bad leaders are bad first to themselves before they are to others, and so are good leaders.
A position has never made any leader good or bad, it just exposes the character of a person.

Self-leadership is an on-going journey which also leads to self-discovery and mastery. Leadership failure and success first begins internally, thereby effecting external outcomes. Leaders do not fail in their external duties and activities before failing in their internal ones. There is nothing more difficult in leadership than to guide one’s own life in the noblest direction. Leaders do not rise beyond their personal leadership neither do they fall because of external forces, a leader’s greatest enemy is “self”. A leader who leads him/herself well, is bound to influence his/her followers greatly and longevity is almost guaranteed. It is more difficult to lead oneself than it is to lead the masses. More often than not leaders tend to pay less attention to this very fact.

To successfully lead others one must embark on a journey of leading “self” and putting to captivity any form of lawlessness within oneself. The truth is that moral uprightness and good leadership are inexorably intertwined. A leader who pays attention to the state of his inner being is bound to lead others effectively. Self-leadership is the highest form of leadership as it forms the cornerstone for leading others. Sooner or later you may retire from leading others, but you will always continue to lead yourself.

A person can be promoted to the highest position in the country but that does not make that person a leader. Until such a person has built enough capacity and discipline to lead him//herself it’s just a matter of time before that individual will come crashing.

The measure to which you desire to lead should match how well you lead yourself so that there is no misrepresentation between your office and personal life. When a leader is unable to lead him/herself it will totally be impossible to uphold the standards of what one’s position requires. Leaders fail to lead themselves because they forget the source of real leadership, they get busy “fixing” others except themselves.
They get seduced by power and get deceived into thinking they are strong, perfect and powerful. One can only lead to the very extent he/she has been or continues to lead “self”.

Self-leadership is a journey of on-going personal growth and transformation, it is a journey of overcoming private battles, and it is a journey of overcoming private failures and understanding what real success is. It is a journey of self-introspection and honest confrontation of one’s personal demons, a bold and selfless journey of pruning the rough edges that are inherent in every human being.

“He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty” ― Lao Tzu

By Kelvin Namwanza
Author /Leadership consultant /Life coach
Info@kelvinamwanza.co. za

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