This is the first of a series of articles written to explore specific things individual men and women can do to make a difference in the world around them. Making a difference is what leadership is all about and, ultimately, each of us will be judged as a leader on the basis of how much of a difference did we make and toward what objectives.
Positive leaders are whole people and their leadership extends to all aspects of the world in which they live and interact. These men and women recognize that we are all interdependent and that nothing leaders do can be done in isolation.
The key to leadership is action! Our discussion of leadership would be meaningless unless we offer specific suggestions for action strategies that can be implemented immediately. Things you can do that will have a dramatic impact on your life and on the world around you.
Each of these things is not only possible they are imminently doable. All that is required is a willing participant who will open his or her heart to the possibilities and will act and act now!
Our discussion will address strategies for the full spectrum of our lives to include home, the community and the workplace. This list of strategies is not intended to be exhaustive. Our purpose is to get you started, to serve as an ignition system. The list is as long as your imagination and success requires that you utilize your imagination, fully.
ACTION STRATEGIES FOR HOME
1. Exercise your mind, body and self esteem.
Implement an exercise program to get your body in shape. Do it at home or away from home. Walk, exercise, play tennis or basketball, ride a real or stationary bicycle, join a health club, take aerobic classes, join the mall walkers’ club at your nearest shopping mall. Do not overdo it! Start slowly and build up to a daily regimen that works for you, but make a commitment and stick to it. You will feel better, have more energy, more stamina, and more enthusiasm for life and be less susceptible to depression.
Initiate a reading program. Set aside at least fifteen to twenty minutes a day, at a time that works well for you, to read something educational or inspirational, beyond the local newspaper. Feel free to vary the material you read according to your interests and activities and according to your job requirements. It will expand your mind and your imagination, introduce you to new ideas, broaden your vocabulary, improve your positive outlook, and inspire you to live your life more fully.
Commence a serious regimen for your self esteem. Listen to motivational tapes. Smile and talk to yourself in the mirror. Read motivational books. Keep a diary of your innermost thoughts and feelings as you strive to build a positive self-concept.
Become a giver rather than a taker. Begin to think of yourself as a giving person and start doing things for other people. Nothing makes us feel better about ourselves than to receive positive feedback from the people in our lives; and nothing generates positive feedback from the people in our lives more than doing things to help those people feel good about themselves. Share yourself with the people about whom you care! These things you do for yourself, but not only for yourself. The best way to enhance your contribution to your family, your job, and community is to take good care of yourself. You are important to the people in your life. They care about you and they need you. Take good care of yourself for their sake as well as for your own sake.
Go on a sensible diet, not a fad diet; take a vitamin and mineral supplement. If you are unhappy with your appearance, do something about it. Get a new hair style; dress differently; try a different style of eyeglasses.
Begin to look at yourself through different eyes. When you look at yourself through the eyes of someone who feels good about him or herself you can begin to see the warmth and the friendliness in your face, especially if you are smiling. Discard the idea that you have to look like a movie star; very few people possess that type of good looks. Think instead of all the friendly and interesting people you know. Think about their faces and their appearance. How do you perceive them? You enjoy seeing them because they are warm and friendly people and the various characteristics of their appearance are distinguishing. What draws you to them is not their facial or physical beauty, but their warmth and friendliness, their openness and their genuine concern for you. Think of yourself as this type of person and very soon you will begin to see that type of person when you smile at yourself in the mirror.
Think positive, life-affirming thoughts as often as possible. Fill your mind with positive thoughts and purge yourself of as many negative thoughts and feelings as possible. Count your blessings. Do not be discouraged when negative thoughts keep cropping up. They are normal for all human beings. Think of it as weeding the garden. The more you pull the weeds the more the flowers flourish, yet the weeds keep coming. It is a never-ending job. Once you have cleared the garden a few times, however, the weed growth begins to diminish. So, too, will it be with your negative feelings and thoughts.
Change the way you respond to people. When someone asks how you are doing, how do you respond? Try something new the next time someone asks. Say: “Better than I have in a long time!” If they want to hear more you can say: “I have been working to develop a positive attitude and it has given me a whole new outlook on life.” You don’t have to say any more than this but be sure to smile when you say it. If people want to know more then don’t be shy. Share your gift of positive living with them and you will feel even better about yourself. Do not worry as you would in the past, about being embarrassed.
Pay attention to the other people in your life. When you meet other people, do not push your ideas on them but reach out to them in a totally different way. Give them your attention, after all attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give to another human being. Listen to them and hear what they are saying. Ask relevant questions that demonstrate that you are listening. Give them positive feedback and encouragement at every opportunity without preaching and without talking about yourself. Do not talk about yourself at all unless they ask, specifically. The more you truly listen to others and give them fully of your attention, you are making them feel like the most important person in the world and they will choose to spend more time with you than they may have ever done in the past.
Do a self-assessment exercise. Make a list the things you like about yourself and that other people like about you and then rejoice in and celebrate the positive things in your life. Also list those things about you about which you are unhappy. Pick up to five of the things about which you are unhappy and develop action strategies for change. If you commit to those action strategies it won’t be long until you will be scratching things off of your list or transferring them to the list of things you like about yourself. When you eliminate an item from this latter list, replace them with another item.