No, that’s not some dubious Fifty Shades of Grey analogy, though we will be discussing a bit of polite domination. This article is the first on the very weighty subject of leadership. And before you say “I’m not leader material,” there’s a leader in all of us whether we think we’re born followers or not. Leading isn’t just about managing people or being captain of the local sports team. You can lead people, yes, but you can also be a leader of your own life and live a far more liberated, empowered existence as a result. Believe me? Allow me to lead the way.
Baby steps to your leading role
When you think of leadership, you might be thinking of leading people. And we will be dealing with that in a later article. But first I want to talk about taking inner leadership of your own life. And part of that means being selectively assertive.
Prioritise your principles
To paraphrase the great leader Winston Churchill – if you haven’t accumulated any enemies in your life, you’ve obviously never bothered to stick up for yourself. And while the word ‘enemy’ is a bit extreme, the sentiment is quite revealing. We do want to be popular. We do want everyone to like us. But if those real world ‘likes’ are at the expense of our principles, are we really being true to anyone, including ourselves? Does ‘like’ go hand in hand with ‘respect’? Does ‘easy going’ really just mean ‘push over’? How many principles are we compromising in the pursuit of a conflict-free status quo?
I’m not suggesting you suddenly go from Politeness Contender of the Year to Principle Warrior overnight; no one will take you seriously. And even the word ‘conflict’ tends to get bad press. We avoid conflict for obvious reasons. But every issue we tip toe around may one day become a major hurdle with a water hazard. Here are a few examples.
The game of love
A man – let’s call him Anthony – is addicted to a war game and he plays that game constantly at the expense of his partner, Cleopatra, who seethes and says nothing. The longer Cleopatra says nothing, the more Anthony drifts from the real world and the more their relationship dismantles (believe me; the world is full of Anthony and Cleopatra’s; they’re a sad modern phenomenon). Now if Cleopatra brings her inner leader to the fore, sits Anthony down and makes a calm plea for game playing in moderation, chances are he’ll be horrified to learn there was a serious problem in the first place. Anthony plays his game less (or stops completely) and Cleopatra’s inner leader has had an important victory.
A work in progress
Another scenario: Chuck works for a well known real estate developer – let’s call him Donald – who is a compulsive micromanager. But because Donald can be a bit confrontational when challenged, Chuck remains mute at the expense of his job satisfaction and progress. Cue Chuck’s inner leader. He finds a subtle way to broach the subject, asks for more trust and accountability in his job role and, after a brief period of awkwardness, his work environment is vastly improved.
Yes, taking leadership in your own life sometimes comes with an element of discomfort or risk, especially if you’re not used to sticking up for yourself. But try it. Try engaging your inner leader and making one compromised aspect of your life better through honest communication. Then another.And another.Before you know it, your world will be an easier, more enjoyable place to live.
Here’s to a world of happiness!
Dylan Forbes, B.Sc. Psych (Hon.), Pr. AINLP
For more visit www.leaderskills.com.au(added if on another site)