Leadership is unnecessary if you don’t plan to change anything. But, life is about change, so there is always a leadership question, and it always begins with self-leadership.
The stories you tell yourself are the stories you live. The personal journey of change always begins by traversing the 6 inches between your ears – perhaps the most stubborn terrain in the universe.
You hear people say “Change is hard.” True, but there is good news: You’re designed to change.
Your body is actively regenerating itself, even while you sleep. You replace 10,000 red blood cells every second. You get a new lung surface and stomach surface every few days. Your skin is replaced, except for the cartilage of scar tissue, every few years. The living cell part of your bones is replaced several times in your lifetime. You generate new neurons in the hippocampus for learning, and it’s likely that your memories from childhood have been passed around to different neurons multiple times.
Not changing means you’re dead.
There’s even more good news:
Humans are the only creatures who can change the way they think.
Humans are the only creatures who think about the future. We’re anticipation machines. We can condition animals to behave differently, but not the way they think. Every human has a set of mindsets – established attitudes, and frameworks for deciding and interpreting. And every human can choose to change these. Your mindsets may have been formed by your associations and your experiences, but they are not fixed.
There may be manifold problems with your existing mindsets. They may be mis-matched with the world and organizations you’re in today (even if they were suitable in the past). They may not be scalable – the “what got you’re here won’t get you there” problem. They may not create a stronger You and a stronger organization. Your mindsets can even lead you into self-sabotage.
Please note that I’m not talking about natural gifts and talents, or personality profiles like DiSC – these don’t fundamentally change, but mindsets can. This is why Paul wrote to the Romans about “renewing your mind” (Romans 12:2) and Peter advocated “prepare your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13) and both men also instructed people to use what God gave them to serve others.
So what should you do as a leader, especially to lead yourself?
First, empty your cup – let go of old, outdated, no longer useful ideas and practices to make room for new ones.
Second, push yourself outside your comfort zone. That’s where the growth is. All mindset changes require getting outside the borders of the familiar and the routine. It’s like developing a new habit. Enlist others to help you, just as you would to reinforce a new resolution.
Change is necessary work – and often difficult – so remind yourself that you are designed to change.