We are all leaders in all types of different situations – leaders of teams, employees, families, businesses, friends, and so much more. We all have the ability to make a difference, to share our gifts, and to work towards a vision bigger than ourselves.
Leadership itself doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all definition. As an article from Business News Daily says, “We all have our own ideas about what it means to be a good leader. For example, some people think leadership means guiding others to complete a particular task, while others believe it means motivating the members of your team to be their best selves. But while the definitions may vary, the general sentiments remain the same: leaders are people who know how to achieve goals and inspire people along the way.”
For me personally, leadership is striving to leave the greatest, most positive footprint possible in any given moment, no matter if that footprint is left on one person or thousands of people. It’s as much a choice as it is a foundation. And the great thing is, it’s available to all of us at any time.
Inspiration is at the heart of leadership. But, before we can think about inspiring anyone to do anything, we must be able to inspire ourselves. We must be able to tap into our own field of freedom and possibility. To own who we are, how we got here, what we value, what we need, where we want to go, and, maybe most importantly, why we want to go there.
This type of self-leadership is about making a choice to accept the responsibility for everything in our lives as we work towards the best version of ourselves and the lives we’re created to live. It’s a decision to open our minds, speak with curiosity rather than judgment, experiment with the unfamiliar, embrace the unknown, take risks, practice accountability, and figure out what exactly we believe. It’s about authentically & unconsciously inspiring others to do the same.
This is not an easy task. Nothing about making this decision, accepting responsibility, or owning our stories is easy. Nothing about self-acceptance or self-love comes naturally to us anymore. But, there are a few (relatively) easy ways to show up as a better leader in your life and in your business this year.
1. Get clear on your big WHY
As Simon Sinek says in his TEDx talk, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” He claims that all great leaders think, act, and communicate the same way. That great leaders understand why they do what they do and what beliefs they are inspired by. Great leaders have a great purpose.
Before you continue creating content for this New Year, take a moment to assess you own big why. Pause before moving on with your day and answer the five questions you need to ask yourself daily. If you want to dive even deeper, then ask yourself these following questions as well.
- Why did you first start your business? Why is the work you’re doing important to you?
- What struggles, challenges, or experiences have you been through? What have you overcome?
- If you could give one thing to the world, what would it be?
- What do you value most at the end of the day?
2. Take care of yourself first.
As so many wise women have said before me, self-care isn’t selfish, but rather self-preservation. Taking care of ourselves first allows us to be more generous to others later. It allows us to give more goodness, to be more present, to have more energy, and to be fully ourselves in any given moment.
If you want to take your business to the next level, and show up as a better leader in your life or in your business, then it’s important to set a strong foundation (hint: that’s you!) first.
Often, ambitious women will put themselves second on their list (or third or fourth) in order to give more to their spouses, clients, teams, families, etc. While the intention is positive, the practice is backwards. There’s a reason airplanes remind us to put our oxygen masks on first. Only when we are our best selves and not feeling overstretched, held back, or drained can we give the most to those around us. Only when we are living at our greatest potential will we make the biggest impact on the people in our lives. Only when we take really great care of ourselves can we leave the greatest, most positive footprint.
If you’re still unsure about the importance of truly taking care of yourself first, here’s an example. Something I’ve struggled with in the past is food. When I felt like I ate too much, or when I couldn’t stop thinking about food in general, I became really hard on myself. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t seem to “fix” this problem. And so, as a way to lash out on the shame I felt inside, I’d lash out on the people closest to me. I’d get defensive, be short in conversation, or throw unnecessary jabs. This thing that was holding me back was the same thing that was hurting those closest to me. I had to take care of myself – and address my struggle with food and body – so that I could be a better daughter, wife, sister, and friend. Of course, this is just one example. Can pinpoint a time when those closest to you were negatively affected by your struggle or frustration?
As a side, please know that I am in no way asking (or recommending) that you put yourself first at the expense of others! That’s being selfish. Rather, you’re learning to set boundaries, nourish your body, break down barriers, & align your life to the way you desire to feel. All so that you’re left with more energy, clarity, & confidence to share your unique gifts. You do have something amazing to offer this world, but you need to be at peace with YOU to do so.
3. Clear the clutter.
When there are too many things going on in our lives, our businesses, our minds, and even our homes, then we cannot perform at our best. It’s so important to regularly let go of what no longer serves us and at the same time make space for the things we want.
Here are a few ways to do this:
- When in doubt, write it out! Whatever is taking up too much space in your head needs to go down on paper.
- Ask, “How can I serve?” By asking this question, you are surrendering to something much more powerful than yourself – God. You’re admitting you don’t have the answers and at the same time acknowledging that you don’t need to.
- Repeat affirmations regularly. Reminding ourselves of our biggest motivations in life, or of the things we value most at the end of the day, will instantly bring us back to what is really important.
- Become an essentialist and live by design by writing a list of everything you are currently doing (whether in your life, your business, or your home). Then, write a list of everything you think you should be doing. Go through these two lists one by one and cross out anything that isn’t a 10 (which is a complete YES I want to do this because it’s in alignment with my highest contribution). Needing more help with this? Check out the Best Kept Self founder’s YES DIET and learn how to adopt this mentality in just 30 days.
4. Take back your time.
Similarly to the last bullet above, figure out what’s most important and do only that. I love this quote captured in the book Essentialism, “figuring out what’s most important is what’s most important.”
Do you need to post on every social media every single day? Do you need to send out a weekly newsletter? Do you need to see clients 5 days a week? How can you better allocate your time to take focused & efficient action?
Once you figure out what’s most important, schedule a hard stop time. This simple (yet not always easy) act of setting a boundary between our work lives and our personal lives is a great example of putting yourself first in order to better the success of your business. As Marie Forleo says:
“If you’re always listening to the noise of the world it’s impossible to hear the whispers of your soul.”
5. Put yourself out there.
You can host a challenge, film your first periscope, attend the networking event, or post on social media. Wherever you are in your business, is there a way for you to show up more fully? Is there a way for you to increase your visibility and truly be the change you wish to see in the world? If so, do that.
Kelly helps dreamers & doers: small biz CEOs, entrepreneurs, coaches, & creatives live, lead, and be well through personalized coaching programs that help them protect the number one asset in their business (themselves!), SO THAT they clear the clutter, take back their time, and authentically become the visible, successful boss lady they want to be. Visit http://www.kellyelizabethscott.com/a-free-gift-for-you.html to download her free guide with 5 powerful questions to ask yourself daily.