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Self-Leadership is a Choice

When I was in fourth grade, I had a friend, Tommy, who took wooden pencils and “shot” them with a rubber band into the roller shade or ceiling of our school classroom, with the attempt to get them to stick. It looked like fun, so I joined in, until one evening, my teacher, called my parents. Let’s just say I found other ways to have fun after that.

I could blame my behavior on peer pressure, but come on, damaging roller shades and/or the ceiling is just not the right thing to do, and I should have known better from the start. Tommy was the leader, and I was following. Tommy didn’t “make me” do it. I chose to follow his example.

I made a mistake.

I followed someone even though I knew better. This kind of self-leadership is common. People do what they want whether they are required to or not. It is a matter of choice. And, in actuality, we choose whether to do something or not even if it is “required.”

Not sure you agree? Here are some situations that are “requirements.” Do you follow them?

  • When driving on the interstate, there is a speed LIMIT, do you stay under the speed limit, or do you drive just a little faster, but not enough to get caught?

  • When it is time for bed, and you know you should get a certain amount of sleep to feel refreshed and put in your best the next day…..but your movie is not quite over – do you turn it off and finish it another time so you get your sleep, or do you sacrifice sleep because you want to finish the movie?

  • Do you exercise daily, or at least several times a week, because it is a wonderful thing to do to care for your one-and-only body? Or do you skip it when something “more fun” is happening? Or do you consider you are the exception, and “you are too busy” to exercise?

Similarly, in many organizations, people frequently do not do what they don’t have to. In these types of situations, people do enough to get by. I recently read a funny story of a manager who was wandering around through the department, when he stopped at a person’s desk and watched him for a moment while he was playing a game on his phone. The manager asked, "Why aren’t you working?" The employee responded, "Because I didn’t see you coming up behind me."

Would you expect a leading organization to have the approach of doing just enough for its employees and its customers? And as an individual in helping your leading organization to become the best in its industry– do you think it is acceptable to do just enough, or do you do whatever is needed to do the job well? And would the very best employees look around to help others accomplish their best for the betterment of the whole organization? Absolutely! The best individuals and companies are the best because individually and collectively they CHOOSE to be the best in any situation. John Maxwell says it well, “Lead yourself before you lead others.”

You have many choices in life. Choose well my friend. Others are watching. And even if they weren’t, you are setting the example for your best tomorrow.

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