You Can't Lead Others Until You First Lead Yourself

All great leaders have three things in common.

First, they all started with a VISION – the ability to see someone no one else sees, the ability to create something bigger, the ability to imagine an extraordinary future. As Stephen Covey would say, they started with "The End In Mind." They might now know HOW to get there, but there knew for sure where they wanted to go and where the people around them needed to go. There were inspired.

Stop and think about the last time you were inspired, the last time a vision woke you up early in the morning, the last time an idea kept you up late at night, the last time you daydreamed a dream that gave you the chills. You may not be a visionary and see 100 or even 20 years into the future, but there's something inside you that's waiting to come out. Something calling to you. (And no, it's not a "voice inside your head" like a crazy person.) It's your voice coming through you. And it might make you crazy. Many things that inspire us do.

Not just inspired, but convicted. These great leaders have a total 100% belief in their vision. Our mind tends to play tricks on us. Once we come up with a brilliant idea--or what we think is a brilliant idea--it tends to tell us all the reasons why we cannot or will not or must not do the thing we are inspired to do.

In fact, there are usually two groups of people who show up in your life at this point. The first group love your vision, they see the brilliance in it (and in you), the hear the importance of your words, and they feel inspired just as you do. The second group is not so interested in your vision. The couldn't care any less for it. They might even ridicule you for it. The trouble is: both of these groups are your family and friends.

There are going to be many opinions about your vision. But that's the thing--it's your vision. It's what inspires you. If it truly feels right for you and you believe it in your heart that it's right for the people that will be impacted, then you must be convicted to make it happen. You must believe.

Not just convicted, but determined to take incredible amounts of action because that's what it's going to take. A vision is NOT a goal. A vision is The End. It's what you want. It's an ideal destination in the future that provides inspiration and direction. Your goals are The Start and how you will achieve the vision. Your goals must be clear, measurable benchmarks leading toward your vision.  This grandiose future of yours is going to take an incredible amount of action. Dedication. Follow-through. And sometimes sweat, blood, and tears.

Let's face it, if your vision wasn't Fascinating, Lucid, and something you Yearned for, you wouldn't do anything. 

  • Fascinating: the opposite of boring. Focus on the feeling you want as a result of the vision.

  • Lucid: clear to you and those you communicate to. It has to make sense. 

  • Yearning: something that you want or have wanted for some time. It must be something you can't stop yourself from thinking about. 

any times, people see a vision of themselves a thinner. Wow. How Fascinating! Paint yourself a picture. What does "thinner" look like exactly, what does it sound like (what will you be saying to yourself if you were thinner), and what would it feel like (what would you feel like, what would your energy be like)?

 Many times, students say that graduation is in their vision. Oh wow. Not lucid at all. Again, what does it look, sound, and feel like on graduation day? Let's get clear. What was your college experience like by the time you graduate?

Finally, we find that students (even adults) tend to think about things that "would be nice" in their future. You will never move toward your vision if it "would be nice." It has to be something you yearn for, something you'll wake up in the morning thinking about, daydream about during the day, and stay up too late thinking about. What do you yearn for?

 Goals can be SMART. Your vision must be FLY.

You can't lead others until you first lead yourself. Start with your own vision. Be the person you are becoming. Be the person you're looking for in others. And as Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." THEN, you can easily lead others because you have gone to a place they want to be.