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Lead yourself first

(by Simone Lawrence)

Do the same thing get the same results

Albert Einstein famously stated, ”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. If you are 100% happy with the results you are getting then stick with what you are doing. Let’s be honest here, for most of us there is always room for improvement in developing healthier rituals and improved ways of working and communicating to ensure the way we show up is as the best leader we can possibly be, to be role modeling the very same behaviors we expect to see in others. Often this requires a total shift in prioritization.

Prioritize differently

One of the most common pitfalls in creating the foundations for sustained performance and effective leadership is overlooking the importance of self-care. This includes things like getting regular exercise, attending to the right levels of nutrition, practicing mindfulness or activities that create space for the brain to switch off, taking regular time out to think, creating continuous learning opportunities, and the most essential factor getting adequate sleep. These components are an essential and integral part of achieving success as a leader and need to be repositioned to be part of the job role, not something separate that is attended to when there is time. It needs to be the number one priority rather than having been deprioritized as the least important.

Get clear on what you need

Everybody is different and understanding what works and what doesn’t work for you as an individual and designing rituals that work specifically for you is key. The gurus, the blogs, well-meaning friends, and colleagues all have tips and tricks to share that have worked for them and these can be helpful as a guide. What can be most helpful is taking a step back from the busy day-to-day tasks and book a daily recurring meeting with yourself. This can help to create the most important ritual, a daily space to reflect and understand for yourself what is working well that could be further leveraged and what is working less well that we may need to be addressed or let go of entirely.

A leader’s energy is contagious.

When you walk into the room what kind of energy do you bring with you? The energy we carry around can be felt by the people you lead, taking steps to ensure you are exuding the type of energy you want to infect your team with requires conscious work. Identify for yourself the things that you are good at and that you enjoy doing the most. These are your strengths, your energizers, and aligning your energizers to your professional and personal life will provide the strongest base for productivity and leadership. Allocating larger portions of your time on your energizers and creating the resources you need to delegate or outsource your energy and time zappers. Often the emphasis needs to be on what do you need to stop doing rather than starting something new.

Project manage yourself

Become your most important project. Creating a daily log for yourself can help provide valuable insight into your daily patterns which you can design new rituals around and stop doing what is not serving you.  This can be through having a special “me” notebook or a project planner again depending on your preference. Asking yourself things like:

  • What were your most productive moments in the day?
  • What time of day did they take place?
  • What conditions were present around you at that time?
  • How were you feeling in that moment?
  • What would you like to replicate and do more of the next day?
  • What would you like to do less of?
  • Is there anything you need to let go of or stop doing?

Take 10 minutes a day at the best time for you, prior to sleeping, first thing in the morning, at the end of your lunch break before resuming work, take time to reflect and continually evolve your daily rituals.

Don’t be too hard on yourself and look to overhaul everything, start with one or two micro goals which are small steps to capture a key change you would like to make and conquer this before moving forward into other areas. Simplicity and focus will get you there.


It is OK to say NO to requests and tasks that are not serving your well-being and the 1-2 goals you have identified for yourself. Develop a set of guiding principles and boundaries, these are your filters through which you can decide how you prioritize what you say yes to and what you say no to based on what is most important to you. In this way, you can stay in your most productive zone and not slip back into old habits.

Congratulations you got this!

Appreciate, acknowledge and reward yourself for leading yourself well and the small steps you are taking to continually evolve. There will always be setbacks, we are humans, not robots. It is how we respond to the setback that will make a difference. Human beings are wired to look more easily for faults which can inhibit the ability to see the good within yourself. Playing an observer role with yourself, spending more time with yourself, and starting to take more notice of yourself can reveal that there may be more going right than what you give yourself credit for. When busyness is leading you and you are not leading with intentionality it is limiting your ability to see the good in yourself. Becoming more proud of your self-leadership rituals will set you up to be a more effective leader for others and somebody that the people you lead to look up to and admire.

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