All great leaders overcome. Many have to overcome financial hardship either being born into poverty or the financial risk it takes to get ahead. Others have to overcome circumstances of overcoming physical limitations or being born into cultures that do not naturally nurture the gifts they were born with. Warren Bennis explains in his book On Becoming A Leader, all will have to overcome obstacles but the toughest obstacle to overcome is oneself.
Bennis stresses the importance of knowing oneself to overcome any obstacle. The bad news is that we all struggle with self-imposed limitations that stem from our thinking. The good news is all of those limitations can be defeated by reframing our thinking in a constant search of knowing ourself.
“All of the leaders I talked with agreed that no one can teach you how to become yourself, to take charge, to express yourself, except you.”
I have read many books about great leaders, past and present, with a common theme, all of them struggled throughout their journey with their own negative thinking. I recently read books about a national championship coach and a super bowl winning quarterback and do you know what both of them struggled with? Their own bad thinking. Now if leaders at that level with that much success struggle with themselves how do you think your friend is doing? How about yourself?
Author Bennis explains there are four ways to develop your self-knowledge in-turn destroying your self doubt.
1. Know that you are your best teacher - Learning is intimately connected to self and the only way to learn is to get out there and do thus learning the lesson through self-evaluation.
2. Accept responsibility – Blame no one.
3. You can learn anything you want to learn.
4. True understanding comes from reflecting on your experience – Having a conversation with yourself at asking good questions at the appropriate time to come to truth about you and your life.
Leadership is a tough game only because the four things above are so easy to do, but they are even easier not to do. When one begins to do the easy over the easier their leadership journey has begun.