How We Give Away Self-Leadership
My self-leadership is self-authority—my power to author my life, from the inside out. It's my freedom to make choices that make sense to me, regardless of outside influence. This doesn't mean that I don't factor in consensus belief, or that I dismiss what others think. It does mean that when I'm on my game, the buck stops with me, and I like it that way.
How do we give our leadership away? Let us count the ways:
- To doctors, lawyers, scientists, pills and diet books, and experts on TV and other media...
- To our spouse, our friends, our kids, and unwritten family rules...
- To clients, bosses, co-workers, company culture...
- To religious leaders, anti-religious leaders, political ideas, fashion trends, and even the weather...
- False or limiting beliefs and cognitive distortions.
- You name it.
Degrees, certifications and titles are all products of some amount of consensus agreement and couldn't exist without it. We invest our power in pills and concoctions, and "proven" science (I once read that only 1 in 3 people have the predicted reaction to any pharmaceutical. Advil is a miracle drug for me, and does nothing whatsoever for my wife).
Corporations have hierarchies and cultures and processes and more. None of it would work without formal agreements, and more important, tacit consent.
Religions have tremendous pull on many, and many a personal value has some analog in, or has come directly from, a tenet of one of the great religions.
Separating one's inner voice from that of the great din is at times like trying to sing a solo with everyone else singing along. Still, each voice has a unique flavor. If I focus, I know I can hear a single voice in a chorus. If your truth happens to match that of an institution, it doesn't diminish it. It's still yours, if you recognize it.
If we didn't cooperate by giving at least some of our self-leadership away to others, would the world still function? I'm Not sure about that, but most folks I know fall into one or more of three categories:
- They aren't all that aware about how they give their self-leadership away.
- If they're giving their self-leadership away and are aware that they are doing it, but they don't know how to get centered again and take back their authority.
- They don't want any self-leadership, because they live in a paradigm of self-blame, wherein personal authority means the potential for failure, and they'd rather have someone else determine what they do, than risk failure or blame.
I'll wager that most of you reading this don't fall into the last group. And while all three are viable ways of going through life, I'll submit that the most powerful way to roll, is owning your own choices and recognizing when it's your choice to buy into outside influence. Make it conscious.
So, how do you know that you are giving away your self-leadership? Here are some common symptoms:
- You think/feel someone is "more" than you, or somehow better than you because of a degree, their looks, or the money they make, etc., instead of living your own journey while honoring your inherent and unique combination of gifts, and your own self-value.
- You are blaming anything outside you for your mood (your mood is based on your thoughts about reality, and not reality, and if you believe otherwise, you are separated from your self-leadership).
- You are constantly deciding based on fear of loss, rather than moving toward expansion, challenge and gain.
- You are always asking "What's in it for me?" rather than knowing that asking "What can I contribute today" is more in line with your self-leadership, and a far more powerful attitude to come from.
- You are flailing about, grasping for the nearest possibility of relief from some situation, rather than earnestly focused from who you are, on what is important to you, and what your inner guidance is telling you would work best for you.
- You are rebelling for the sake of rebelling. The most powerful rebellion comes from carefully considered, deliberate, choice. Whenever you rebel as a reflex, you are a puppet of outside authority.
How do you take back self-leadership?
- Ask questions of any authority. Even if it isn't out loud. My wife and I taught our children from a very young age to question television advertising and look critically at performances and authority figures. "Respect the office and appreciate the work of others, but question everything..."
- "Connect and separate." Jump into life, network, enjoy connection—yet maintain your internal independence and bearing. Check-in with you more often. What is here for me? What is important here to me? How do I feel about this? Who am I when I cooperate or interact with this person? Stay in touch with Self. We are all connected, and that connection is enhanced by the diversity of individuality within the group.
- Bring the buck home. No matter what is going on around you, if you always come back to your next choice, now you are back at your authority point. For example, if you don't like your boss, and don't agree with what his or her decision is, you might make the choice to support him or her anyway. Why? Because it fits with a longer-term desire or value of yours, or is aligned with an important choice from your past..
With the ever increasing flow of information today, it's more important than ever to stay in touch with our self-leadership. How do you know when you are slipping? What do you do to get back to center?