I recently recorded a podcast where my co-host said that if it weren’t for the tool we were discussing, all of these amazing things would not have happened. I politely disagreed. The tool is just that, it’s a piece of software and it’s up to us to decide what we do with it. In my example, I shared that there are thousands of people that just use this tool at work and then go home and don’t think about it again. The tool didn’t give them an amazing life. Instead, it was the individuals who decided to learn more, get engaged, and contribute. They led themselves and were open to the opportunities that came to them. What struck me about this conversation, is that we were really talking about self-leadership.
What is self-leadership?
I tend to think of leadership has two major components; productivity and people. If we apply this to self-leadership, then self-leadership can be defined as having, believing, and working towards a vision, developing one’s skills and abilities, and appreciating the work and effort done.
We can apply this concept to the tool my friend talked about. My friend saw the potential benefits of using this tool and got excited about it. He believed that he could help others with the information that would come by using this tool. He read, watched tutorials, and practiced using the tool. He created useful products with this tool and felt good about what he accomplished.
While self-leadership is more internal, there are external components to help lead one’s self. People decided to share their knowledge through blogposts and videos, which my friend was able to use to develop his skills. The other aspect, which is so critical, is that my friend found a community; people who similarly wanted to learn and grow and were excited about the potential benefits of this tool. They also supported and cheered him on when he produced something amazing. When some aspect of doing this work gets hard, he has the support of the community to help. The great thing about self-leadership is that it doesn’t mean you’re alone. Whether it’s a user group, a Facebook group, an Instagram group, a slack channel, GitHub; there are people out there who can help either with your personal development or with appreciating the work you’ve done.
Not only did the conversation with my friend make me think of self-leadership, but it made me think back to high school and some advice I received at Girls State. Don’t be a piece of furniture.
If you sit there, nothing will happen except that you’ll stay in the same place unless others move you and people will use you. That piece of advice has stuck with me for almost twenty-five years since I first heard it. That piece of advice is really about self-leadership and prompts for action. Whether it’s using a tool or becoming more fit, take action.
Live engaged and lead yourself, others will follow.