Leadership Lessons From Yourself

There is no limit to the number of articles about what someone learned about leadership from someone else. Whether that be a historical leader, some successful team, or even some persons relative. And while learning from other successful people will never cease to be important, what I see more and more is our inability to really learn those lessons from ourselves.

It’s not that we don’t keep track of what not to do. In fact, when you ask people about what lessons they might have learned from their own past situations, invariably, the answer you get is all about what they messed up on, a short-sighted decision, or something they won’t do again. Beneficial, maybe, but it’s not the same kind of “lesson” that we generally focus on when talking about someone successful.

In the articles about other people, we focus on what they did well, how we can emulate their winning strategy, or the mindset they created that led them to the goal they were seeking. When we talk about our own, however, we only seem to talk about what we need to stop doing.

It’s not that we don’t talk about the challenges of the other people. It’s just that, when we discuss “lessons” from others, we talk about their challenges in the context of their success; the hero’s journey, the Phoenix rising from the ashes, or the courage to move forward despite the set-backs. And yet, too often, we don’t create the same story for ourselves.

There is a ton more information to learn about your potential for leadership in your own story than their will ever be in the story of someone else, if you are able to focus, like we do with others, on what you do or did WELL. Where were you successful? Where did you pull through? What fantastically, awesome, amazing, kickass trait did you showcase even in the midst of horrendous failure? These are the “lessons” that give you power, that acknowledge your greatness, and that should inform your next choice in “leading” your next decision.

Learning from others is great, and yet it will always be limited by the “I’m not that person” voice in the back of your head. Learning from yourself, becoming an expert of your rad-ness, and answering the question about lessons you’ve learned from your past with solid positive evidence, is much more powerful than 1,000 biographies of other great leaders and teams. It’s the only kind of learning that allows us to believe “that could be me” because “this is who I am.”

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