Fostering the growth of young leaders is something I've found to be one of my greatest passions in life and a primary goal of Unashamed Impact. I wanted to take the time in this post to look at some of the common hindrances that not only I've experienced in my own journey of purpose but that I also find locking up the greatest potential of many around me. If you find yourself struggling with the issues below I ask that you sincerely take a genuine moment to confront them. We cant change what we're not willing to confront.
1. Clear Communication
Say what you mean, mean what you say and say it boldly. If you don't believe in what you're saying there's a high chance others wont either. Make sure your thoughts are in order before presenting your ideas. If the concept isn't simple and clean it may get lost in translation. What are you trying to accomplish and how do you want to go about it. This isn't just in the business sense but also key for effective and influential relationships. What are your expectations? Make the grey areas clear so nothing is left to assumption.
2. Fear of failure
This is a very common fear. The pressure to meet up to the expectations of others, of the image of yourself in your head and accomplish the very thing you've set after. A lot of people drop out of the race early from the simple fear of "measuring up". But it is those who risk to push the limits who get to see how far they can really go. Sure, mistakes will be made, but they're proof that you're trying. A leaders approach to making a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct it and learn from it. This literally turns a failure into a success.
3. Captivity to opinions
What people think about you is none of your business. You take care of your character and your reputation will take care of itself. You can never truly be who you are if you're constantly conforming to be who people want to see. You'll soon find that you cannot please everyone nor be everything to everybody. Its the quickest way to lose yourself and the unique qualities that make you you. It goes to say, be a first-rate version of yourself instead of trying to be a second-rate imitation of someone else. A leader is one who goes the way and shows the way- principle centered not people centered. How can we change the world if we look just like it. We diminish our genuine effectiveness trying to be anyone other than ourselves.
Develop a healthy self-talk. Self awareness is literally the ability to think about how we think. And the fact that you can separate yourself from your thoughts and review them, proves that you are not your thoughts. So instead of meditating on the opinions of others, develop a healthy meditation of yourself first.
4. Outside-In Thinking
One of the most toxic ways of thinking is outside-in thinking. It is the mentality that everything around us must change before we can change or move or make a difference. Not only is it paralyzing but its completely false. This type of thinking absolves us of all responsibility and is always driven by feelings, opinions and circumstance. ("There's nothing I can do. That's just the way I am...")
Inside-Out thinking means to first start with the most inside part of self- your character and motives. It focuses its efforts on the things that can be done. You take responsibility and stop blaming everything around you for your behavior. And because of that, the nature of your influence literally begins to increase, enlarging and magnifying in positive results.
Consistency not only builds a foundation of trust with others but it develops an inner integrity with ourselves establishing self-control and proof that we can take on more responsibility which fosters growth.
6. Lack of Dedication
One thing I was talking with our leaders about last night is the simple facts of life. Things happen- sometimes in our control and sometimes out of our control. There are days we find ourselves letting the trials of life paralyze us emotionally, spiritually and physically. But this is where we find a mix of Inside-Out thinking and Consistency as stated before. We need to take the responsibility to do what we can do no matter the circumstance and do it consistently. That is perseverance. And when we dedicate ourselves to this is when we truly start to become effective leaders.
7. Personal Imbalance
We ought to keep our priorities in line. You are the vehicle driving this vision forward. But what happens if you don't take care of the vehicle? It may run but its only so long before it breaks down. Sometimes we focus so much on production that we forget to take care of the producer. Take a moment of sanity each day where you're not centered on the urgency's of the week. Be preventative against mental breakdowns.
Know the difference between whats urgent and whats important. Some things that abruptly grab your attention compel you to move but really think about it in the scope of things. Can it wait? Is this important or just urgent. Don't forsake whats important for whats urgent. That phone call can wait to spend time with your family. We want to operate from a place of balance not keep trying to run on fumes.
8. Being Solution-Minded
Problems will arise, that's life. But often time how we look at the problem is the problem. Effective leaders are not problem-centered, they're solution centered. They are opportunity-minded. Instead of focusing on whats wrong meditate on how to make it right. With the combination of our conscience- to do the right thing, our imagination- to envision possible solutions and the free will to do it we can turn obstacles into opportunities.
9. Empathetic Listening
The problem today is that everyone wants to be heard while few want to listen. We want to influence the masses with our voice without genuinely tuning into the voices around us. But the truth is that people don't care what you know until they know that you care. And I don't mean phony interest because anything less than genuine can be sensed even from a child.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Instead of listening with intent to jump at your next response, filtering everything through your own opinions and mentally preparing to speak next, really listen to understand from another persons point of view. We cant be effective with another until we fully understand those we come into contact with.
The more you learn the more you realize what you don't know. It'd be ignorant to think that you know everything you need to know. It'd be wise to continue to read, go to conferences, take classes, listen to podcasts etc to grow in your field of "expertise". Invest in your vision and the brain that carries it.
If there's anything you've struggled with or overcome as a growing leader feel free to add on to my list in the comments below!