“Our mission in life should be to make a positive difference, not to prove how smart we are or how right we are.” Peter Drucker
Leadership is about influence. When we influence others, we are leading them. When we influence ourselves, we are self-leading. That brings up the question, “What are the thoughts, behaviors and strategies that help us exert influence over ourselves?
Here are 5 ways smart people do this.
1. Make peace with the uncontrollable. Figure out the things you can change, and then change them. If you can’t change something, then learn to live with it. This means changing your attitude about the uncontrollable. You learn to live with it by making peace with it. I’ve discovered – repeatedly – that worrying about something is not a good problem-solving technique. Yet it becomes my default mode unless I replace it with something else. If I make peace with it then I can quit worrying about it. Worrying about something you can’t change is like being in a hole and digging faster. You feel like you’re doing something, but it only makes things worse. By not worrying, you make space for new thoughts and ideas to enter. Every life has positive and negative dimensions. Let go of what you can’t control. Invest your energy in things you can. Your attitude is the first place to start. Which means you must….
2. Let go of the past. We know nothing is gained by pointing out what others did, or what’s wrong with them. Yet we do this with ourselves. Focus on how to make the future better rather than why the past was bad. We learn from the past, but we don’t live there. We learn from the past and invest in the future by living today. Our brightest future hinges on today. Preparing today will eliminate repairing tomorrow. Take note of the beauty of today unfolding around you. If you assign it to the future, you will never experience it. If you fixate on the past, you have already missed it. This means you need to…….
3. Focus on what’s important. Life is full of bunny trails. Don’t waste physical and emotional energy on the trivial. This will help eliminate what Marshall Goldsmith refers to as vicarious living. Vicarious living gets us nowhere. We do this through television, gossip columns, and our personal gossip groups. It’s easy to talk about the exploits of Tiger Woods, or the latest meltdown of Britney Spears, or the hottest information about a mutual acquaintance. It’s the trap of talking about others rather than discovering how we can make a difference. There’s a lot of nonsense in our daily discussions, and most of it doesn’t matter. Is the investment on the topic really worth it? What’s it worth 10 hours from now? 10 days from now? 10 years from now? Playing it forward will help you determine its present value. You can discuss, debate, argue and be right, but is it worth it? Train your mind to use the 10/10/10 approach before you invest time in the discussion. Instead, why not……
4. Invest in yourself. This is not an act of selfishness. If I don’t take care of “me”, I can’t take care of “you.” Investing in me allows me to invest in you. Investing in yourself may mean putting some money, some time, and some energy on the line to contribute to your growth and personal development. Investing in yourself allows you to invest in others. It’s the natural flow in life. The more you influence yourself, the more you will influence others. You cannot give what you don’t have. One way to do this is to…..
5. Invite feedback as an opportunity to be transparent. Feedback has positive benefits as you learn new information and skills. But it also makes you more transparent. It helps you develop an openness about who you are. Feedback is not about pleasing others. It’s an exercise in learning about yourself. Growing in your personal curiosity and openness is attractive. This kind of person is trustworthy, optimistic, flexible, poised, and cheerful. Transparency helps produce these traits. People aren’t attracted to perfection. They are attracted to transparency. Feedback expands the boundaries of personal openness.
One of the greatest challenges in life is influencing yourself in a world that’s constantly pressuring you to conform your image to theirs. It can be immobilizing! Someone is always richer, prettier, smarter, stronger, younger, wiser, and funnier than you. The paradox is that the more we influence ourselves to be ourselves, the more people like us.
And we like ourselves more too! 🙂