A client recently described her transition as “leading with a vision vs. leading in the dark.”
Here’s what she was driving at – to lead ourselves and others effectively, we need to come from a place of clarity.
When professionals initially contact me, most need more clarity and direction. They feel unhappy or dissatisfied in their career, but they don’t know what they want to change. They don’t know their next steps. They’re uncertain about what the future holds. Their 1-year and 5-plan are unclear. They’re “in a rut.”
The work starts with building greater self-awareness—gathering information about who we are, what and who has influenced our life to this point, and how that will affect our actions. We then springboard off that awareness, deciding what to keep and what to change, creating a solid foundation for self-leadership. Great leadership starts from within – lead by example.
Know thyself. The first big step is to go on a fact-finding mission. Your objective is to get the facts on YOU. What do you really want? What makes you happy? Who are you really?
When I reinvented my career at 45, I started my journey toward my dream life with many thoughts—nearly too many to process.
Journaling is like panning for gold. You begin by throwing all kinds of dirt, sediment, and debris into your gold pan. As you continue journaling and processing, it’s like shaking the pan. Slowly, the unimportant things begin to fall away, and you’re left with the most profound insights, the changemakers, or the “gold.”
I highly encourage every one of my clients to journal. It’s the perfect tool to create more self-awareness and embark on the next phase of your life with clarity, purpose, and a vision.
I know you are busy, and journaling may feel like another thing to do, but trust me, it is the secret missing ingredient if you are not in the habit. We need to get those rambling thoughts out of our heads for clarity even to be possible. Experiment with different types of journaling to find the one most effective for you.
- Daily Journaling – Use your journal to record day-to-day happenings, your favorite memories, and the steps you take to live your dream life.
- Reflective Journaling – Explore what you’re feeling. If you’re struggling to gain clarity, ask why and journal about it. Ask what you could improve if you think your self-leadership skills need work. Think about the challenges that have come up for you and how you triumphed over them. Reflect on your wins.
- Gratitude Journaling – Every day, write a list of the things you’re grateful for. After a few weeks, go back and read them. What comes up most? Are you grateful for your work, hobbies, or family? Can you take the things that give you a sense of gratitude and purpose and use them to design your dream life or career?
There are so many options out there these days. Explore and make it fun. You can download apps like Day One to easily journal about your vacation. The app allows you to add pictures, videos, and voice memos and will enable you to add a diary, gratitude journal, workout log, quotes, and more text entries.
Start small – maybe time yourself for two minutes and see what comes up. And if it’s “This is silly, I don’t have time for this” or “I can’t believe this helps people, what a waste of my time,” that is actually enough. You are allowing your feelings to come up and be heard. Your energy will shift from that.
Fill in the Gaps
To lead with a vision, reflect on the needs or areas in your life that could use a little TLC. Are you honoring all your parts?
If your career is taking off and you’re enjoying much professional success but still not exactly happy, ask, “What’s missing?” Is your physical health lacking? Do you fuel your busy lifestyle with Starbucks coffee and Cliff Bars? When did you last move your body and have fun doing it? Do you feel spiritually fulfilled? Incorporating prayer or meditation—or even reconnecting with nature and the world—can feel immensely healing.
If some aspects of your life feel self-destructive, don’t beat yourself up. We all self-sabotage. Creating more self-awareness means becoming more cognizant of these behaviors. For example, maybe you have a shopping addiction. When things feel overwhelming, you fire up your Amazon app. You have Prime, so your packages will be here tomorrow.
When you can figure out what’s at the root of the problem, you begin to live life with a vision—to design the life of your dreams. Our most destructive behaviors can lead us to the most profound insights and changes and point us to our way forward.
In fact, in Japan, there’s a practice of fixing broken bowls and plates with gold and lacquer. This practice is called Kintsugi. Artists repair the cracks and gaps with golden seams. These new seams make the dishware even more beautiful.
The last tool to create more self-awareness is to dial it in.
Until now, you may have been going through the motions or living life out of focus. Your next step is to bring intention to what you do. Your job is to navigate and get through the static until you find what’s crystal clear.
This begins by observing what is and isn’t working for you.
As you go about your day, think about the activities that felt effortless. What were you doing when you stopped thinking about your to-do list and stressors and were able to be fully in the moment?
These are clues about the shifts you might take in your career or personal life. If time flies when you’re building a community, think about how you might build rapport and nurture important relationships at work or participate in the community during your free time. Alternatively, you might consider volunteering for a beloved charity several times a month.
Self-awareness is your compass. Once you create more self-awareness and invite more clarity through journaling, filling the gaps, and tuning in to the present moment, you can use it to design your dream life and lead with a vision.
This may entail leading a cohort or team of people at work, your family, or yourself. No matter what you do, it always stems from self-leadership. When you can lead yourself and do it well, you’re ready to lead others.
The fundamentals of self-leadership are:
The number one block that comes up for my clients is perfectionism. Nearly every day, I hear from a client who feels like they can’t do it right or are being told they can’t do it right. People feel like they’re frauds like they’re going to be “found out,” or like they’re phonies.
When we start unpacking that belief, it’s always about fear of not being enough. They’re worried they’re not skilled, qualified, smart, confident, or worthy enough. They’re striving to be perfect, and perfect doesn’t exist. (Think about it. What is perfect? Can you define it or put words to it?)
To navigate this self-leadership hurdle, I advise my clients to gather evidence to support the facts.
For example, if clients worry they lack essential skills for their position, I ask them to consider whether it’s true. A kinder and more reasonable belief may be that they’re more skilled than they know. Then I ask them to find evidence to support it. For example, if someone thanks them for answering their question and clarifying what they’re supposed to do, if someone comes to them with a problem to solve, or if they’re asked to take the lead on a big project, that’s all evidence to support they’re more capable than they know.
Have a Plan
As a Career and Leadership Coach, it astounds me how many people don’t have a plan! Designing your dream life and leading with a vision is near impossible when you don’t know the plan or how to make one.
That’s where our work together comes in. I’ll teach you how to create a plan so you can make your dreams and self-leadership goals a reality.
To create an effective plan, we’ll cover the basics of setting realistic and measurable goals, taking action that aligns with your values, and creating visions for the different phases of our lives.
To lead with a vision, create more self-awareness, and work on your self-leadership skills.
For years, I worked as a graphic designer. I’m a visual person. Without a vision, you aren’t going anywhere.
But a vision can grow from a single crack with light shining through. As our self-awareness grows, that crack becomes bigger and bigger. Our concept of who we are and what we want grows too. With that awareness, we’re able to see what’s keeping us stuck and make a plan to move forward.
Moving confidently toward your dreams is well within your grasp. If you’re on the cusp of change and need a little extra push that looks like having someone in your corner to cheer you on, support you, and hold you accountable, I’m your coach! I’d love to talk about finding your way together. Schedule a call to start mapping out your vision.