With all the knowledge, skills, talents, and drive you may have, if you are not emotionally self-aware, you will not succeed at your life’s goals. You do not have to look far to find someone who has failed in this regard because they did not take the time to know who they were emotionally, how to control their emotions, and what motivated their emotions. You yourself may have experienced consequences due to lack of awareness of emotional strengths and weaknesses; perhaps you failed because you thought you were strong in an area where you were actually weak.
As human beings we have many things in common, one of them is that all of us have been wounded by someone. For some the wound or wounds have been deep, disorienting, painful and catastrophic. I know there are the few who have never been able to overcome the wounds in order to take responsibility for their lives and have had to be taken care of for the remainder of their lives. People like this are the exception. For most of us, we must decide how we will go on with life having been wounded.
I am looking out of my apartment window in the complex where my family and I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is little after 9 on a Monday morning, April 20, 2020. Usually by this time I am on the campus of the college that my wife and I are leading. But today is day 25 of the lockdown here in South Africa. We have been out of our complex only four times in the past 24 days. This has been quite an adjustment for us; under normal circumstances we rarely go a day without leaving the complex.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. – Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
What would happen if we all were to live our lives with these two verses as guiding principles? I wonder what would happen in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, churches, communities and nation.
Recall the last mistake you made. How did you handle it? Did you own up to it, and perhaps learn something from it? Or did you try to blame it on someone or something else and move on? Or were so mad at yourself you did not take the time to see what you could have learned from the experience? If your response was the latter, you have plenty of company: it is the response of most people.
Most of us fear making mistakes, and when we make them, we try to rationalize them away. The reality is, mistakes are a part of life and we should not live our lives in fear of making them. Rather we should learn from our mistakes or we run the risk of repeating them.
How can we learn from our mistakes?
Two of the most dominant attitudes and actions in our society today are anger and hostility. We could use much more kindness and gentleness. We have a choice of which of those we want to characterize our lives. The challenge is that expressing anger and hostility seems to arise much more naturally but showing kindness and gentleness requires us to be intentional.
One of the challenges we all have to learn to overcome is to realize there are some things we have no control over. Too often we allow things we can’t control to get us angry and frustrated. The sooner we come to grips with the reality that we don’t have control over them, the sooner we better manage or react to our circumstances.
For example, we allow the behavior, attitude or ways of thinking and speaking of others to bother us to the point of worry and anger. When we allow the way someone is behaving to affect us, we are giving energy to things over which we have no control.
I know the idea of resolutions is not particularly effective or motivational. As a matter of fact, many of us do not even want to hear the word resolution used around this time of the year because it has been abused and misused.
What if you discovered that question today? Would you use it to help avoid mistakes in your decisions going forward?
I think I just heard your response: “Well, duh!”
The question is available to you, and you can start using it immediately.
Good and successful leaders are approachable leaders. Their followers find it easy to approach them with whatever concerns they may have. Good leaders don’t hear things from third parties, their followers are comfortable with approaching them directly.
Approachability comes over time as you, the leader, intentionally create a culture of trust and openness so your followers can feel safe and confident in approaching you. There are a number of things you can be intentional about in your leadership that will make you an approachable leader.