Guilt-Free Self-Leadership: 12 Possibilities

Had a conversation yesterday with a work team who had tackled the Sweet Closure initiative with us in October. Not only did they tackle it, they nailed it.

So yesterday they were asking, “Now what?” wondering if there was specific goal-setting I recommended for them through November and December. They were feeling great about all the projects they successfully completed in October (within the Sweet Closure goal of ending 2009 early, to better enjoy the coming holidays), but now they felt a bit directionless ”“ they are not at all used to facing two months with no new projects!

How’s that for a great problem to have?

Ma‘o ‘ekahi

You can still set goals for November and December. What accomplishing Sweet Closure does, is give you the opportunity to set some goals you may never have otherwise had time for. You simply have new and different choices.

I’m a habitual goal-setter too, and I don’t stay away from the process during these two months. What might be different for me, is that I feel no guilt whatsoever about shedding professional goals early so that I can have the time for tackling some personal ones ”“ like seizing more holiday time for my family. As you know, the D5M alpha and the Sense of Workplace Call to Action is a biggie for me right now: I go big, and make room in my year for causes I care deeply about.

Now I fully realize that I have an advantage you might not have: I’m my own boss (and in my company I am the boss). You might feel that you don’t have the same kind of discretionary freedom, and are caught in that common trap, where if you finish your “real work” early, your boss will just give you more to do.

Maybe so.

And guess what? If I were coaching them, I’d have them watching for lulls in your energy too, for remember ”“ what great leadership does, is create workplace energy realizing it is the single greatest resource a prosperous company has ”“ more than even time and abundant financial capital.

Here is one thing I know about bosses pretty universally. They don’t look for more work to give you if they feel you are already doing good work, and if energy is already buzzing up the workplace with good vibrancy.

So do good work.

My recommendation is that you look for those self-leadership opportunities which are a win-win personally and professionally ”“ but do reward yourself by making sure your personal Ho‘ohana is part of your efforts. Never forget that What’s in it for me?” is a Self-Leadership Question.

Here is my premise: There is no leadership without self-leadership first.

Dedicate November and December to goal-setting on self-leadership. Trust me, your boss will applaud you because they will notice the fire in your eyes, and they will welcome your new-found energy as good for you, good for the business, good for them. They won’t give you more to do because they won’t want to break the spell: They’ll leave you be to keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.

Again, do good work. Do GREAT work.

I’ll help you with some ideas.

Ma‘o ‘elua

Do some soul-searching and self-reflection as you read through this list, and then pick the ones you know you need to work on. Turn them into opportunities you will pursue as your November and December goals:

A Talking Story Preface:
Long-time readers will recognize this list as one which has served us well since I first wrote it in April of 2007. What I have done is link it up with my recent coaching. To use this list as I suggest, read it first without clicking on any of the links. Reflect as Rick suggested we do on JJL yesterday. Then, after you decide which you want to work on, and have come up with a preliminary plan, the links may serve to help you flesh out your thoughts a bit more.

12 Rules for Self-Leadership

1. Set goals for your life; not just for your job. What we think of as “meaning of life” goals affect your lifestyle outside of work too, and you get whole-life context, not just work-life, each feeding off the other.

2. Practice discretion constantly, and lead with the example of how your own good behavior does get great results. Otherwise, why should anyone follow you when you lead?

3. Take initiative. Volunteer to be first. Be daring, bold, brave and fearless, willing to fall down, fail, and get up again for another round. Starting with vulnerability has this amazing way of making us stronger when all is done.

4. Be humble and give away the credit. Going before others is only part of leading; you have to go with them too. Therefore, they’ve got to want you around!

5. Learn to love ideas and experiments. Turn them into pilot programs that preface impulsive decisions. Everything was impossible until the first person did it.

6. Live in wonder. Wonder why, and prize “Why not?” as your favorite question. Be insatiably curious, and question everything.

7. There are some things you don’t take liberty with no matter how innovative you are when you lead. For instance, to have integrity means to tell the truth. To be ethical is to do the right thing. These are not fuzzy concepts.

8. Believe that beauty exists in everything and in everyone, and then go about finding it. You’ll be amazed how little you have to invent and how much is waiting to be displayed.

9. Actively reject pessimism and be an optimist. Say you have zero tolerance for negativity and self-fulfilling prophecies of doubt, and mean it.

10. Champion change. As the saying goes, those who do what they’ve always done, will get what they’ve always gotten. The only things they do get more of are apathy, complacency, and boredom.

11. Be a lifelong learner, and be a fanatic about it. Surround yourself with mentors and people smarter than you. Seek to be continually inspired by something, learning what your triggers are.

12. Care for and about people. Compassion and empathy become you, and keep you ever-connected to your humanity. People will choose you to lead them.

If you are doing all of these things, no boss on earth is going to mess with you. In fact, they will be guarding you with their life, and making sure they keep you happy, because people like me try to hire you away from them.

Ma‘o ‘eono

My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
Each Tuesday I write a leadership posting for Say “Alaka‘i” at The Honolulu Advertiser. The edition here on Talking Story is revised with internally directed links, and I can take a few more editorial liberties.

One last reminder: Who leads? You do. In the Sweet Spot:

The trouble with “all or nothing” is that it is often too intimidating to choose all, making it much too easy to choose nothing.

Reality is, most of our naturally occurring choices fall in between the two, and their outcome would significantly improve if they became choices which were more conscious and intentional. ‘In between’ all or nothing can be a very good place to be.

In fact, ‘in between’ is where you find the Sweet Spot.
Leadership is a perfect example.