We take inventory of many things and even other people. Are we taking inventory of ourselves? This is a vital challenge that Socrates posed; it’s one that virtually every leadership guru challenges leaders to ask. Yet, so few leaders make the effort.
There’s a lot of ink spilled these days, and rightly so, around the topic of “strategy” or being “strategic.” Companies are challenged more than ever to be crystal clear about their mission, ethics, goals and alignment to them. Why, then, as leaders would we not do the same of ourselves? I believe that most of us are well-intentioned here, but we don’t make the effort. Why? Here are some reasons I’ve observed:
- It takes time; we’ve filled our lives with other things
- It takes courage; I don’t like always hearing what’s in my head and I definitely don’t like hearing about where I’ve missed the mark
- Some people aren’t introspective by nature; looking inside seems odd and “soft.” It may also be painful
- “I’m already successful; what do I really need to change?” (Or should I say, “I’m just fine with the status quo”)
A few suggestions:
- Make a decision that some introspection (honest thinking about one’s self) is valuable and healthy
- Carve out some specific quiet time and a place where you can think your own thoughts without interruption
- Have a pen and paper or a computer at hand
- Think about your values, ethics, priorities, goals….both personally and professionally; write them down
- What are you honoring? What are you dishonoring?
- Personally and professionally, where do you excel? What needs to improve?
- If you really have courage, share some of these with a trusted friend and ask for feedback
- Pick just one or two areas that you want to enhance. Focus on these.
Really, this is just a straightforward call to honesty with ourselves. But we live fast-paced, IPod-loving, radio-listening, cell phone-using, TV-watching lives. I can let others think for me and avoid the challenge of me, by myself, with my own thoughts.
Make yourself a priority. Examine your own thoughts and beliefs. You owe it to you and to those who live and work around you.