When it comes to leadership and the way to find your own motivation and inner strength, the “Think ‘ME’ first” recommendation I site in the title does not have a relationship with the word “selfish”. Selfishness, as the definition shows, is, “What’s good for me?” Period. As it relates to leadership and the way to motivation and inner strength, thinking “ME” first relates to assessing your own thoughts, feelings, and actions first and ensuring it’s good for those around you. Thinking “ME” first ensures that you bring an energy and aura with you that brings out the best in people. In the end, that becomes good for you.
I’m not going to embark on a psychosomatic rant…although I could. Let’s keep this methodical and unemotional for now. We hate our job. We hate our boss. We are in a bad relationship. Our children are defiant. We haven’t spoken to our siblings in weeks, months, or years. We’re overweight. We’re depressed. We don’t know what we want from our lives. There are no doubt external factors that contribute to these feeling we have sometimes. There are plenty of things we may rightly be able to point our fingers at and say, “This is your fault! Not mine!” Maybe…
The long and short of it is this: if you are looking for motivation and inner strength, begin to challenge how you see, feel, and react to EVERYTHING around you. Consciously identify when an emotion arises. Identify how you reacted to that emotion. Then run it up against how you feel about your reaction in hindsight and how you would like to respond in the future. If you are looking for motivation, this drill to become in tune with yourself will fit the bill. How we act based on our emotions define us. If you are looking to be defined as somebody who is in control and calm, confident and strong, compassionate and understanding, steadfast and committed, open minded and flexible, you will find that the drill of looking at yourself first will give you the path to achieve these things, regardless of your chosen profession or current life situation.
You will notice I didn’t mention how external factors play into this drill. That’s because they don’t. The external factors are simply gifts that give us our emotions that WE then have control over. Yes, we get to decide, after we identify what we are feeling, how we act or react. Sadness, insecurity, anger, fear, jealousy; these emotions either sneak up on us or we are too cowardly to acknowledge them. But once we find the courage to acknowledge them, they no longer control us because we’ve brought them from our subconscious mind (where they really do the damage) to our conscious mind (where we get to decide how we react to them).
What’s the motivation? Self-control. Self-determination.
Once we decide, consciously, how we act and react the sky is the limit to what we will achieve. If you can’t find the motivation in mastering yourself before anything else, well, I’m not sure where you can find it then. You will also notice I didn’t harp too much on that job you hate, or the boss you hate, or your weight, or your self-esteem. That’s because it no longer matters. Today you get to start to think “ME” first. Today you get to find the motivation to practice this, which will then provide the inner strength of heart, character, compassion, commitment, or any other trait we want to be associated with. Today we get to be LEADERS.
LEADERS of ourselves first, then we get to bring the goodness to those around us.
Search for meaning behind your negative thoughts if you like. Maybe it will help to understand, maybe it won’t. You may have low self esteem because your father left home when you were a child, or he hit you, or he cheated on your mother and now you are a mess. Sure, try to understand if you want. But here is one thing understanding won’t help you with: changing what actually happened in the past.
The WHY of yesterday no longer matters. It’s the WHY, WHAT, and HOW of today forward that matters. The understanding of our emotions and then the control we can have over them allows us to leave yesterday in the rear-view mirror where it belongs.
And guess what? It’s really hard to do. Welcome to leadership!
Errol Doebler is the founder of Ice Cold Leader, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Ice Cold Leader to realize his passion of teaching leadership and helping individuals and businesses improve exponentially. Errol provides executive coaching and leadership training to individuals and teams across the United States.