“Pay close attention to yourself…” (1 Tim. 4:16)
Everyone wants to be a great leader. They try every book, conference, and seminar. They pump themselves full of motivation. They read and listen to the latest leadership strategy.
All good. The missing ingredient of all of the above? “Self-awareness.”
Self-awareness is “keeping watch over yourself.” Nurses study heart monitors to watch a patient. One indicator out of normal and an alarm goes off.
Here are the monitors I constantly check on myself:
1. My thoughts: negative or positive?
- Try to go one entire day without a single negative thought about yourself, another person, or your circumstances. When my mind drifts into a negative “funk,” everyone and everything around me turns ugly.
- Paul said, “Whatever things are true…honorable…just…pure…lovely…and excellent, think on THESE THINGS” (Phil. 4: 8). If your spouse, your dog, your church, your neighborhood, and your job all stinks at once, turn your mind toward heavenly things.
2. My direction: forward or backward?
- PROGRESS is critical. Leaders go months and years with no progress. A coach who never moved the ball down the field would be fired. If he was satisfied with the weather, the color of the uniforms, and the pep rally (but losing every game), he would be GONE.
- Use metrics (measurable results) to show your direction. Change directions if you are going the wrong way.
3. My purity: standing or falling?
- Is there a bad habit or behavior that keeps repeating itself? Am I angry or addicted? Am I shocked at my behavior behind the wheel or when I am at home with my family?
- Check your words. Check your computer. Check your relationships. Get around a weekly “circle” of transparency. Give them permission to challenge you. If you can’t see your own impurities, surely they can see them and pull you out of the ditch.
4. My money: stressful or plentiful?
- If you feel continual stress about money, you need an outside person to help your self-awareness. Your budget is busted. You have too many opportunities to spend easily. Your priorities are wrong.
- Get a financial plan. Submit to your financial planner to get out of debt and stay out of debt. Sell the unnecessary, repair what is left, start a 3-month emergency fund. Go to debit cards.
5. My health: stronger or weaker?
- Diet, rest, and exercise = ENERGY. When you feel fatigued all day, it is one of those three (or all of those three!).
- Diet: Give someone permission to point out when you are eating unhealthy foods and portions. Weigh every morning. When the scale goes up, it is not time to buy a different one.
- Rest: Go to bed at a certain time and get up 8 hours later.
- Exercise: Walk a mile (or two) daily.
Self-awareness is the pathway out of failure and into a lifetime of accomplishment, profit, and success.