THE FIRST PRINCIPLES-Unlocking your Unstoppable Leadership—Chapter 6 Awareness (Excerpt)

Awareness

 Understanding and Embracing who you are. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. ~Nelson Mandela

 First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. ~Epictetus

BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT

            Leadership begins with you. Leadership is about you, the people you influence and a belief that you can make a difference and have an impact. Leadership starts with a condition of the heart – the desire and passion to make a difference before it moves to the brain to implement a plan to make a difference. It is an inside-out process and is shaped by your values, character, choices, opportunities, experiences, and your worldview.

Great leadership is about a positive attitude that creates a positive culture. In addition, great personal leadership is about having the energy, passion, integrity, trustworthiness, accessibility, and character authenticity to be the very best leader you can be. Practice self-awareness.

Before you can lead others you have to recognize your true self. Too many leaders refuse to discovery who they truly are before they begin to lead and struggle when adversity comes their way. Without personal clarity it is impossible to have professional clarity. You need to understand who you really are before you lead.

Becoming an Unstoppable Leader is a deliberate and disciplined process. Becoming an Unstoppable leader requires that you are well grounded in your character and your core values, beliefs, and worldview are integrated into your leadership. Nothing is more important to your success as an Unstoppable Leaders than your character.

 ASSIGNING MEANING

            Nosce Te Ipsum is Latin for Know Thyself. The saying is attributed to many Greek and Roman philosophers to include Socrates, Aristotle, Heraclitus and Cicero. This theme of understanding yourself is also a key principle many of today’s leadership authors point to as the beginning point for all leaders.

Self-awareness means you have clarity of your passions, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Knowing yourself improves your capability to be flexible and adaptive in different situations, allowing you to work with others during challenging and demanding problems more skillfully and diplomatically. It allows you to use the right capabilities at the right time and in the right situational context. Finally, knowing yourself likewise provides you more confidence in developing yourself for the future.

If you desire to lead and influence others, then you need to be cognizant of your actions, principles and beliefs and be aware of how they shape you and influence others. As human beings, we need to understand we are a complex network of values, beliefs, ideas, traits, capabilities, talents and life experiences. This complex network is our character DNA.

Your values shaped your purpose. Values are those core beliefs that you hold dear, live your life around and are unchanging. Your core values are shaped by your core belief system. Values are those things that you hold most dear in our lives: family, faith, freedom, human dignity, respect for others and integrity are just a few examples. These values and beliefs shape up your character and shape how we look at the world Personal values are aspects of life you think are important to live your life with, such as integrity, excellence or service. Together these values are the principles that you see your purpose through. Your values drive our behavior and shape our character.

Your worldview is the lens you look at the world through–your values, beliefs and purpose. It is your way of making sense of what is going on in the world and how you choose to cope and act in the world. Your worldview is unique to you. Your character is the outward expression of your purpose, values and worldview. Your character is your inner workings of beliefs, motives, values, desires, behaviors and principles that drive and shape your actions as a leader.

LEADERSHIP THOUGHT

            In 2004, I assumed the Command Chief position at Altus Air Force Base. The Command Chief is a senior leader position and responsible for advising the commander and staff on mission effectiveness, professional development, military readiness, training, utilization, health, morale, and welfare of the command’s enlisted. The Command Chief is to serve as a role model, lead by example, and to serve the commander and the enlisted force.

A key role for a Command Chief is to prepare and develop Airmen for their future leadership opportunities and roles. To fulfill this role I communicated quite frequently with all Airmen in the Wing and I took every opportunity to communicate to the emerging leaders at the Altus Air Force Base Airman’s leadership school.

The Airmen’s Leadership School (ALS) is the first level of professional military education and deliberate leadership development for emerging enlisted Airmen. It is a deliberate and disciplined development program focused on preparing effective front-line leaders/supervisors. The key focus learning areas of ALS are developing leadership skills and abilities, understanding effective communication and its role in leading others, and understanding your chosen career–the profession of arms. The Airmen that attend ALS are the future leaders of the Air Force.

My message to the emerging leaders focused on becoming and being a leader in the Air Force, the expectations of being a leader, and their role in their own development of their competence and character.

“As a leader you have an opportunity to make an impact on your organization and your people every day so the first step in being a great leader is to know yourself.

The journey to being and becoming a leader start with the journey to truly understand who you, what you are capable of accomplishing, and why you want to lead. You reap what your sow or you are what you grow and develop yourself to become.

Becoming a leader takes the time early in their career grow and develop their understanding of their core values, core beliefs, and their worldview. Understanding how you make choices is a critical component of effective leadership. Your values and your beliefs motivate and drive you and can affect you leadership effectiveness

This is the first and most important step for an emerging leader because these three define who you are and will affect how you make life and leadership decisions. Self-awareness is hard work and requires a commitment to self-discovery, and take persistence, perseverance, and patience in order to lay the groundwork’s for your leadership.

The best investment you can ever make in your life and your leadership to invest in yourself, your talents, and your skills–your competence; and to understand your values, beliefs, and worldview—your character. Being a leader requires you understand that you need competence and character to lead.

General Norman Schwarzkopf when he addressed the Cadet Corps at West Point stated that: “To be a 21st-century leader, you must have two things: competence and character…To lead in the 21st Century, to take soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coastguardsmen into battle, you will be required to have both competence and character.”

Character and competence are the lifeblood of your leadership. They are the double-edged sword of your leadership. On one side is your competence—your skills, talents, abilities, and capabilities. On the other side is your character—your values, your beliefs, and your worldview.

In addition, running down the center of the sword is your Integrity that fuses your competence and character together and resting at the point of the sword, at the point where your competence and character merge, is your leadership credibility. You must hone both side of the sword to be great leader. Your competence and character must be razor sharp to lead in the 21st Century and the uncertainty and chaos of today’s world.”

Character and competence are the lifeblood and the DNA of your Unstoppable Leadership. Competence and Character are leadership fundamentals and are intertwined with your life and leadership, just like the double helix of life’s DNA.

Character and Competence are the core principles of your leadership DNA. Competence and character; are two sides of the double helix. On one side of the helix is your competence, which represents your personal and professional qualities. On the other side of the helix is your character, which represents who you are, what you believe in and what you value.

The double helix is a life and leadership ladder with each rung representing your skills, talents, abilities, capabilities, and your core values, beliefs, and worldview. Each rung is connected to the competence and character strands. The key to understanding your true self is to know who you are as a person first. Knowing your true self makes you more effective in your life.

  • What do you believe down deep inside your soul?
  • What do you value in life?
  • What motivates you to be the best person you can be?
  • What skills, talents, abilities, an capabilities do you possess?

DRIVING IT HOME

            The beginning of an unstoppable leadership begins with the knowledge that is up to you to create and live your unstoppable life. This theme of understanding yourself is also a key principle many of today’s leadership authors point to as the beginning point for all leaders. Knowing yourself improves your capability to be flexible and adaptive in different situations, allowing you to work diplomatically and skillfully with others during challenging and demanding problems.

The key to understanding your true self is to know who you are as a person first. What do you believe down deep inside your soul? What do you value in life? What motivates you to be the best person you can be? Knowing your true self makes you more effective in your life.

To understand your true self you need to understand what your beliefs are. You behave according to what you believe, not what you do not believe. A core belief is what your conviction is regarding God, people, concepts, or the world. Your core beliefs are those indispensable elements to defining your life and living it authentically.             Your core beliefs are the center or core of what you believe about life, death, religion, morals, what is good, what is bad, what is right, and what is wrong. Your core beliefs allow you to weather every storm, trial, and tribulation.

Being centered in the Truth has become more and more difficult in our society because of relativism and the belief that there is no “right” and “wrong.” Core beliefs helps you see what is right and wrong in your life and helps you guide your thoughts and actions. Core beliefs emanate from your core or your soul. Without solid core beliefs, your personal way of life will be empty and you will be indecisive at every opportunity or challenge in life.

The choices you make in life defines who you are as a person. Your core beliefs define your worldview. Your core beliefs define your core values and shapes your life on a daily basis. Values are those core beliefs that you hold dear, live your life around, and are unchanging. Your core values are shaped by your core belief system.

Values are those things that you hold most dear in your life: family, faith, freedom, human dignity, respect for others, and integrity are just a few examples. These values and beliefs shape your character and shape how you see the world.

Personal values may be aspects of life you think are important to live your life with, such as integrity, excellence, or service. Together these values are the principles that you see your purpose through. Your values drive your behavior and shape your character. To understand your true self you need to understand what your beliefs are. You behave according to what you believe, not what you do not believe. A core belief is what your conviction is regarding God, people, concepts, or the world.

Your core beliefs are those indispensable elements to defining your life and living it authentically. Your core beliefs are the center or core of what you believe about life, death, religion, morals, what is good, what is bad, what is right, and what is wrong. Your core beliefs allow you to weather every storm, trial, and tribulation. Being centered in the Truth has become more and more difficult in our society because of relativism and the belief that there is no “right” and “wrong.”

Core beliefs helps you see what is right and wrong in your life and helps you guide your thoughts and actions. Core beliefs emanate from your core or your soul. Without solid core beliefs, your personal way of life will be empty and you will be indecisive at every opportunity or challenge in life.

The choices you make in life defines who you are as a person. Your core beliefs define your worldview. Your core beliefs define your core values and shapes your life on a daily basis. Values are those core beliefs that you hold dear, live your life around, and are unchanging. Your core values are shaped by your core belief system.

Values are those things that you hold most dear in your life: family, faith, freedom, human dignity, respect for others, and integrity are just a few examples. These values and beliefs shape your character and shape how you see the world. Discovering your true self is important if you want to live an unstoppable life. The most important undertaking of your life is not what you do, but whom you can and will become. You need to discover the authentic you. When you are living congruent to your purpose, beliefs, and values then you are living authentically.

APPLYING IT

            Self-Awareness and development is a lifetime process of recognizing, accepting, and developing a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, capabilities and shortfalls, and then working to grow and develop each area of your life. as needed. Self-awareness takes courage to shine the light on your weaknesses and unknowns and then having the discipline to work to continue on with your personal and professional development journey to build lifelong character and leadership.

Your Unstoppable leadership is about character authenticity, value congruency, and your ability to lead with the First Principles. An Unstoppable leader is a leader of character, a leader of values, and a leader of integrity. Using the eight disciplines of development in the Unstoppable Model. These areas of development help you grow and develop holistically and congruently. The eight areas are developed and grown through personal insight and personal mastery.

Personal

            The Personal Discipline is the C4 of your life. This area has been developing since you were born and never truly stops growing and developing. However, it can become stagnate if you stay in your comfort zone. This discipline is the most important to develop and grow because it is the foundation of your professional and leadership discipline areas. The Personal Discipline is You the Person. This discipline is focused on who you are—your purpose, values, character, and worldview. This discipline is also focused on how you communicate, show respect, extend dignity; build relationships, live with integrity and trust, and how resilient you are in your life.

Professional

            The Professional Discipline is about your career and professional life. It does not define you as a person but it is the area of your learned expertise. It is a vital part of your life as it helps you meet areas in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Model. The Professional Discipline is concerned with you, your career, and the skills needed to succeed. This discipline focuses on your experience, technical skills, management skills, talents, and aptitudes. This discipline also focuses on the necessary education, training, and development you need to keep you competent in your expertise.

Leadership

            The Leadership Discipline is about you as a leader and your leadership ability and capability. You must continue to develop this area of expertise as you grow your professional expertise. This discipline is concerned with both your self-leadership and your team and organizational leadership. This discipline focuses on your leadership skills, attitude, aptitude, leadership experience, and overall development. This discipline also focuses on your leadership opportunities, building alliances and partnerships, leadership authenticity, selfless service attitude, talent development, and culture creation.

Spiritual

            The Spiritual Discipline is about you as a spiritual person. This discipline is concerned with your faith, resiliency and your ability to believe in a higher purpose. This discipline focuses on you seeking and finding personal meaning and purpose for your life through soul-searching, prayer, and mediation. This discipline also focuses on strengthening your beliefs, principles, and values to sustain you as a person through self-awareness and self-discovery.

Emotional

            The Emotional Discipline is about you and your emotional intelligence. This discipline is concerned with your ability and understanding of how to manage your stress, emotions, and moods and will help you to be an effective person and leader. This discipline focuses on managing life’s challenges in a positive, optimistic way by demonstrating self-control, personal fortitude, and moral character. It is about harnessing the power of managing emotions.

Physical

            The Physical Discipline is about you and your health. This discipline is concerned with your physical wellness and wellbeing. This discipline focuses on improving your participation in regular physical activities, which improve cardiovascular strength and endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength. This discipline also focuses on your understanding of how your personal wellness and wellbeing effects your personal growth, development, and ability to function daily.

Mental

            The Mental Discipline is about your intellectual and mental health capacity. This discipline focuses on your intellectual growth, mental activities, and your creative and critical thinking. This discipline also focuses on healthy brain function as a major component of wellness and peak performance.

Social

            The Social Discipline is about your social awareness and social intelligence skills. This discipline focuses on the skills necessary to be accepted and happy socially. This discipline also focuses on developing and sustaining trustworthy, valued relationships and friendships.

LOOKING INTO THE MIRROR

            Time to look into the mirror and see how well you live up to the contents of this principle. Take few minutes and examine the areas of your life that are not congruent with this principle.

Look for evidence in your life that supports or contradicts your initial thoughts, assumptions, opinions, and beliefs of your leadership. Adjust your opinions as you reflect on your thoughts and when new information changes your opinion.

  • Learning to lead with your purpose and your core values ensures your life and leadership are congruent
  • Seek to understand yourself before you seek to understand others
  • Understand how you see the world and your leadership lens
  • Don’t settle for good enough, achieve your very best, achieve your greatest life. You are living out your true life when you do not compromise your true self.

 “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”

Winston Churchill

 REFLECTION TIME

Give yourself some quiet time—30 minutes to start and reflect on who you truly are. Review the questions and select the answer that best fits how you assess your life at this moment.

Personal Self-Assessment

The life I lead is a full expression of my true self.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

I understand the value of character and competence.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

I develop my life and leadership daily.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

I develop my life in all eight areas of self-development.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

I know what my core values are.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

I know my core beliefs.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

I know and understand my worldview.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

I know how my values, beliefs, and worldview affect my life and leadership.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

I take time understand my leadership impact.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

I seek to be more self-aware each day.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

Self-Assessment Analysis

10-39 Points – You need to increase your self-awareness and self-efficacy of your leadership. Take the time to do a deep dive on yourself to find out how to incorporate or improve this principle into your leadership. If you want your leadership to count then you need to master this principle.

40-70 Points – You have a good understanding of who you are and how this principle can affect your leadership. Which area of your leadership do you need to improve? What effects do you need to implement to produce better outcomes?

71-89 Points – You are well on your way to being unstoppable in your leadership. You are living the principle and making strides to keep it in the forefront of your life. Keep your eye on the prize and keep pressing forward.

90-100 Points – You are an unstoppable leader. However, do not stop now. You need to continue to grow, develop, and continually reinvent yourself.

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