Back when we were just toddlers, we were led by our hands. We were taught to sit, stand and walk by our parents, older siblings and the extended members of our families and immediate communities. We were guided, led, supported, mentored, encouraged to always keep at it until we eventually grew to stand on our feet. That is to say, we ultimately learn to lead our own selves, individually. That is a form of leadership.
Leadership. Who is a leader? A leader as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary is one who has authority or commanding influence. A person who directs, guides or show others where to go or what to do in a particular situations at any time or most of the times. According to John C. Maxwell in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the ability to lead is the limiting factor that determines a person’s level of effectiveness in all other areas of life. That is to say, your potentials and the heights to which you are able to reach in life cannot exceed your leadership ability. As conceived by Peter Drucker and Warren Benis and stated by Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, ‘ “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. You can quickly grasp the important difference between the two if you envision a group of producers cutting their way through the jungle with machetes. They’re the producers, the problem solvers. They’re cutting through the undergrowth, clearing it out. The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies, and setting up working schedules and compensation programs for machete wielders. The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, “Wrong jungle!” But how do the busy, efficient producers and managers often respond? “Shut up! We’re making progress.” As individuals, groups, and businesses, we’re often so busy cutting through the undergrowth we don’t even realize we’re in the wrong jungle. And the rapidly changing environment in which we live makes effective leadership more critical than it has ever been — in every aspect of independent and interdependent life.” ‘
So, leadership means assuming or taking responsibility, leading, guiding, showing the way, seeing the end from the beginning and charting the pathway that will lead to that desired end.
Leadership entails a lot of discipline, self sacrifice, accountability, pains guts and gumption. Leadership means, staying awake when you (and most folks) will rather keep on sleeping. And this is the reason why most people run away from it. Leadership is demanding and challenging. When we fail to lead, when we fail to take responsibility and discipline ourselves, we will end up being led by (and also often at the mercies of) those who took responsibility and discipline themselves. And at times, this is not always very pleasant.
When the negative consequences of your failure to discipline yourself begin to weigh on you, whom will we blame? Nobody but yourself. Bye and bye, we suffer when we fail to take responsibility for our life and actions. The unfortunate thing is that innocent people including our loved ones and others who depend on us directly and indirectly for their livelihood suffer as a consequence of our own faults and failures. And what burdens and pains of remorse and regret could be greater than having to confess that – “These people are suffering because of my own failures and faults. My failure to discipline and lead myself and ultimately provide them with the much needed, focus, leadership and direction”? You definitely don’t want to say that at any stage of your life.
What do you do then? Step up your act. And step it up today. Embrace self discipline. Discipline your heart, soul, spirit and body. In other words, lead yourself, rule your spirit. For in the final analysis, how can you ever hope to rule your world when you cannot even rule yourself?
Rule your own self. Rule your world.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.