“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” – Warren Bennis
Great leaders share many common traits with you and I. For one thing they are human! They have made mistakes, failed, they have overcome disappointment, heartache, tragedy and grief. No great leader has ever been able to escape the roller coaster ride of life.
Becoming a great leader is a work in progress. There are a number of events that occur in the life of a leader where they were required to act on specific personal qualities or traits that enabled them to lead people to achieve successful outcomes. I believe that everybody has within them the potential to be a great leader.
Nelson Mandela is an example of a person who had a personal philosophy and mindset that enabled him to become a great leader. He didn’t think he was any one special however when placed in a situation where he would be tested and isolated from life, his personal philosophy became the mantra from which he became a great leader.
You may not know it but you hold within you the beliefs, attitudes and traits that are of leadership quality. Here are 13 signs that you have within you the mindset of a leader. If you “unleashed” your leadership mindset, there is no doubt that you would become the “great leader” you were born to be.
1. You Are A Realist and An Optimist
You accept that life is unique and it is what it is. You like to deal with the reality of life however because you are an optimist you have hope for the future and a positive outlook on life.
You believe that there will always be a way to sort out any situation you may face in life. Your optimistic view of life is contagious and a source of positive energy for those around you.
These are great qualities to have as a leader, as leaders need to be positive and hopeful and at the same time accepting what will be, will be.
2. You Love To Learn
You are always open to learning new things, in fact you actively search for new knowledge and information that can enhance your abilities to be a better person. You also love to learn from others and you will actively search out and connect with people who you can watch and learn from.
Your love of learning is definitely a leadership quality. A good leader never stops learning. They never turn down the opportunity to learn new things. Like you, leaders are open to the fact that the opportunity to learn can come at any time. It could come from a university lecturer, the person who makes their coffee or sells them a newspaper. Your love of learning sets you on the pathway to being a great leader.Advertising
3. You Are A Good Listener
“We have two ears and one mouth, using them in proportion is not a bad idea!” – Richard Branson
You know when you are a good listener because people come to you to ask your advice or to share their problems. They know that when they talk to you, you make them feel that they have been heard and valued.
You don’t like to do a lot of talking when you are listening to a person because that distracts you from getting to the core of the issue or problem that is being discussed.
The conversations you have with these people are not about you and you understand that. You may know the answer about how this person could solve the problem, however your focus is guiding and advising the person as to how they can come to their own solution or plan of action.
Richard Branson believes that a person who is a great listener has the ability to be a great leader. It is a key requirement according to Branson and you have it.
4. You Always See Potential In Others
You love people and you connect easily with all types of people. You also operate intuitively and will recognise very quickly the potential abilities of people you meet.
You see the potential for personal leadership in others and will encourage and support those people to take up any opportunity to unleash their potential.
5. You Are A Kind Person
You have empathy for people and you can very quickly tune in to how they are feeling. You do not believe that by showing kindness that you are being weak. In fact you see it as a strength because by being empathetic and kind to others means that you are living your values and that to you is very important.
Being kind to others is an integral part of your life philosophy and this is what makes you a great leader.
6. You Are Resourceful
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
You have this amazing ability to use what ever you are given to make the best of a situation.People look to you as the person who can take them out of a crises because you always seem to find a way.
You are prepared to ask for favours, work hard, stay focused, be honest and ask for help. You have an ability to see and prepare for the future because you embrace the concept of change.
To you change is a constant part of life and you just go with it. This is a key quality for a leader to have, because to be resourceful, you have to be motivated to act quickly – procrastination is like a swear word to you.
7. You Are A Good Communicator
You know who you are and what you stand for. You can clearly articulate to others your thoughts and opinions. Speaking your truth is important to you however you are also very aware of how others receive your message.
You are quite strategic in how you deliver what can be received as “unwelcome news”. Your intention is always to communicate even if it is a difficult message with heart felt intent and you strive to ensure that those receiving the message feel and clearly understand your intent and what you are saying to them.
There is no confusion, misunderstanding or unclear expectations when you are communicating with others because you work hard to ensure that all parties are on the same page.
8. You Create And Maintain Great Relationships
You enjoy being around people and you surround yourself with people who challenge, inspire, teach, support and encourage you. You are a great networker because you love connecting to people.
Family and friends are very important to you and you work hard to have flourishing relationships with all your family and friends.
People see you as someone who is reliable, honest and trustworthy – you keep your word and you are not into the drama of life. That’s just not your style. You avoid relationships with people who lead lives that are full of drama and negativity – their energy drags you down.
You love the positive energy that your relationships give you as it is this energy that fires you up, inspires and motivates you. This is such an important quality for a leader to have and you have it! Congratulations.Advertising
9. You Like To Have Fun And Celebrate
“If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong. If you feel like getting up in the morning to work on your business is a chore, then it’s time to try some thing else. If you are having a good time, there is a far greater chance a positive, innovative atmosphere will be nurtured and your business will flourish. A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life.” – Richard Branson
This is how Richard Branson lives his life and you follow a similar life philosophy. Enjoying what you do in your life both professionally and personally is important to you and you just love to have fun. You also love to celebrate your successes and other people’s successes.
Your optimism and outlook on life is a source of positive energy and its contagious. People really enjoy being around you because you inspire and motivate them with your energy, enthusiasm and love of life.
People always feel good when they engage and connect with you. A wonderful quality that sets you up to be an incredible leader.
10. You Are Self Aware And Confident
You know who you are, what you are good at and what you are not so good at. You accept that you are accountable for your own actions and behaviours.
You are not into the blame game and will admit you are wrong or have made a mistake with no hesitation. You spend a lot of time getting to know you so that you can be a better person.
You are really comfortable working with others who are more skilled than you because it means the job will get done – probably to a better standard than if you had tried to complete the task alone.
You know your strengths and your weakness and you’re not afraid to share with people these aspects about you. You know when you can help and when you need help and as a result you appear to others as a confident, articulate and empathetic person.
11. You Are Prepared To Take A Stand For What You Believe
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
You know who you are and what you believe in and you make sure that those around you know also. You are not afraid to speak your mind. You also believe it is important to do what you believe is right.Advertising
You are committed to your values and you live your life according to those values. You respect diversity and difference however you do not tolerate injustice, intolerance and the abuse of others.
People feel inspired by your commitment and passion and will seek you out to connect and engage with you. This is a key quality of a great and courageous leader. It takes courage to stand up and speak out for those who are too afraid to.
12. You Tend Not To Panic In Difficult Situations
“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” – Publilius Syrus
This quotes illustrates when good leaders shine – which is effectively leading in challenging and tough times. By staying calm in times of crises you demonstrate a key leadership quality. When you are able to stay calm in a crises situation you maintain the ability to reason, to be effective, to have empathy and to connect to how you feel.
An individual who panics can not act or respond with consideration. They can only react and respond in the heat of the moment. You do not operate this way because you know that irrational and reactive behaviour does not produce effective and reasonable solutions.
13. You Are A Solution Based Thinker Who Likes To Think Outside of the Square
You are future orientated in your thinking and that means that you like to look outside of the square to search for solutions. Forget the problem you say, lets look at what solutions are out there for us to consider on how we can solve the problem.
You have an ability to see and prepare for the future because you embrace the concept of change. To you change is a constant part of life and you prepare for it and you just go with it.
You enjoy the challenge of thinking outside of the square because it requires you to be creative and innovative and thats when you feel the most energised and inspired.
People feel your passion and energy – it is contagious and people love you for it! When you are in this space you are operating as the great leader you were born to be.
“I think leadership comes from integrity – that you do whatever you ask others to do. I think there are non-obvious ways to lead. Just by providing a good example as a parent, a friend, a neighbour makes it possible for other people to see better ways to do things. Leadership does not need to be a dramatic, fist in the air and trumpets blaring, activity.” – Scott Berkun
Last Updated on March 21, 2019
11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits
Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:
You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”
But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:
To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.
It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,
“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”
The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.
In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.
Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?
1. Start Small
The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.
Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.
Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.
Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.
Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.
Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.
It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.
Do less today to do more in a year.
2. Stay Small
There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.
But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.
If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.
When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.
I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.
Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.
The same thing applies to every other habit out there.
Pick a (small) number and stay at it.
3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence
No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.
There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.
What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.
Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.
This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.
This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.
4. Those Who Track It, Hack It
When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.
Peter Drucker said,
“What you track is what you do.”
So track it to do it — it really helps.
But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.
5. Measure Once, Do Twice
Peter Drucker also said,
“What you measure is what you improve.”
So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:
For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.
Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.
6. All Days Make a Difference
Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.
Will two? They won’t.
Will three? They won’t.
Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.
What happened? Which one made you fit?
The answer to this (Sorites paradox) is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.
No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).
7. They Are Never Fully Automated
Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.
But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.
What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.
It will just become a part of your lifestyle.
The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.
It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.
It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.
8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.
Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.
When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.
The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.
Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.
9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It
The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.
Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.
You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”
But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.
So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.
If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.
This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect and why process-oriented people don’t.
The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.
Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.
10. Punish Yourself
Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.
I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.
It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.
You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.
No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.
The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.
But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.
11. Reward Yourself
When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.
Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.
The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.
After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.
If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.
Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.
If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.
In the End, It Matters
What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.
When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.
And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:
“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”
More Resources to Help You Build Habits
- How to Break a Bad Habit and Retrain Your Brain
- Understand Your Habits to Control Them 100%
- How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop
- How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way)
Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com
|||^||Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox|
|||^||Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?|
|||^||Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit|
|||^||Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes|