As I mentally prepared myself for one of my leadership presentations last month on the 75-mile drive there, my mind drifted to my list of “must-do’s” and for a moment I forgot where I was headed. A truck whizzed by and snapped me out of my trance, and it was as if all of my thoughts were tumbling inside my head, bumping against each other, like a jigsaw puzzle that was knocked off the table–with pieces flying through the air in slow motion.
I made it safely to the event and delivered a powerful presentation on “Maximizing Your Influence: Leadership, Empowerment & Success!” as demonstrated by the standing ovation I received at the end of my program. After connecting with many of the participants and signing books, the meeting planner, the director, and one of the CEOs invited me to dinner. I paused for a moment and said, “No, thank you, but I’d love a rain check.”
After I said it, I couldn’t believe what I had heard
According to research conducted by Kouzes and Posner, the #1 characteristic found in all great leaders is honesty. If you believe (as Vince Lombardi and I do) that leaders are not born but made through hard work, then in order to improve your leadership ability, you must improve your ability to be honest. If you took a poll in your office, alma mater, or neighborhood, how many people believe or would admit they are dishonest? I bet the percentage would be slim to none.
The surest way to improve your ability to do anything is to practice. For those of you who took piano lessons, ballet, or were involved in sports, remember how much time you spent rehearsing or training to develop your skills? The same thing can be said about improving your leadership ability. To practice being honest, you need to know what you value most. In my book Designing Your Destiny, I talk about having the ability to answer three questions: Who am I? What do I do? Why does it matter? It’s critical to focus on what is most important in your life in order to live the life you want, not the life other people think you should live. (Mark your calendar for the official Designing Your Destiny book launch on September 12th! I hope to see you there!)
Back to my story…On the drive home, I was honest with myself. I didn’t want to go to dinner. I’d had a long day, my husband had been out of town and was
Saying “no” is often much more difficult than saying “yes”….to almost anything. Knowing what I value most, however, I have given myself permission to do what I want–not what I think I should do.
What things in your life are fighting your ability to make the decisions you want to make? What is your list of should-do’s that keeps getting in the way of your want-to-do’s? Those “freedom fighters” steal our energy because we lose sight of our priorities. The next time you have a decision to make, any decision, ask yourself if you are being honest about what you really want. Is it something you feel you should do or something you want to do? Is your answer in alignment with your personal and professional values? If you need help getting on track, hire a coach, talk to your mentor, or pick up a copy of Designing Your Destiny.
Remember, “You are where you choose to be!” Choose to live the life you’ve always imagined ~ happy, successful, fabulous, and free!