The Age of Leading Yourself First
“To thine own self be true,” said Polonius in the play Hamlet, by Shakespeare. It is highly likely that Shakespeare had not intended for his character to be the spokesperson for humanity on the subject of living one’s truth (indeed, he was portrayed frequently as a foolish old “goat”.)
Nonetheless, his ramblings remain legendary; renowned through the ages for their wisdom. This quote epitomizes the essence of leading oneself first: i.e. practicing personal leadership. To lead ourselves first means that we can differentiate our values without holding any attachment to another person’s idea of whom we are supposed to be. When we are true to ourselves, we know ourselves and we understand our place in the grand scheme of things. We have discovered our unique purpose and we regularly tap into our intuition in order to make decisions of all kinds. We are successfully practicing “me” management in every situation or challenge.
When we think of “leadership skills”, we usually associate these with individuals who are in a management or supervisory role. Leadership rhetoric has its roots in a variety of management theories espoused over the ages. What is missing, however, is the idea of taking charge of oneself. It has been commonplace to think of a leader in terms of “position”, generally associated with being in charge of others. However, a title on a business card or a placard on a desk or door does not automatically make someone a leader. It may give the impression of self-importance and achievement, however, the title alone is not enough. Neither is a job description that notes functions associated with managing people. The importance of practicing personal leadership is everyone’s personal responsibility. Attaching importance to what we do for a living is often recognized as a yardstick for measuring success. However, the manner in which we conduct ourselves has far greater significance and impact in the long-term. Therefore, the meaning of leadership denotes character, above all else. It has nothing to do with a job title.