Leading Yourself

Leading YourselfNobody is going to follow you if you do not know where you are going.  You need to have a clear set of goals and standards for yourself because it enables you to focus on what’s important and it gives your team something to identify with and support.  If you don’t have a clear direction or well articulated values, your efforts can become diluted and ineffective and your team will very likely become confused about who you really are and what’s important to you.  By creating maxims focused on leading yourself you can eliminate this potential lack of focus and confusion.

A maxim by definition is a principle or rule of conduct.  In the context of the leadership maxims approach, it is a short, personally meaningful and easily explained statement that reflects one of your beliefs about leadership.  Maxims do not contain buzzwords.  Maxims are simple, clear statements that serve as reminders for how you want to behave and lead and how you want your team members to behave.

I invite you to share your maxims and ideas related to leading yourself in this forum.  Simply write your maxim and share the personal story behind it in the comments below.  I’ve shared a few of my own.  I look forward to reading yours. If you’re interested in courses we teach related to leading yourself, just look for the LY icon on our course listing page.

26 Comments → “LEADING YOURSELF”


  1. Craig

    3 years ago

    At my age and at this stage of my career, I am concerned about my legacy. So, at the end of each day I ask myself, “What did I do today to make my tiny corner of the universe better for my having been here?”

    Respond to this comment

    • NajmuzzamaN

      1 year ago

      Of course! Yes! I stand by one of the sayings of the late Muhammad Ali: “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

      Respond to this comment

  2. Morrease Leftwich

    4 years ago

    One thing that I have learned about leading myself is to stop ignoring my weaknesses because they are the things that limit us. Instead I make it a point to address my weaknesses on a daily basis as means of changing my habits. I don’t suggest dwelling on them as that may have an adverse effect. Just give them a little more attention and you will definitely improve; that is what leaders do.

    Respond to this comment

  3. Soren

    4 years ago

    Today I got a new maxim, right out of the blue: “…but you already knew that, didn’t you?!”

    I was having coffee with an old acquaintance and we were updating each other on the last few years’ events. I shared my story about a recent job I had for a short period of time, but which I quickly became quite unhappy with and ended up leaving again. I hardly finished the story before he interrupted me and, while looking me straight int the eyes, said: You knew that already before taking up the position, didn’t you?

    It hit me like a hammer – I was just sitting there. Nobody asked me this before – and how the hell did he know? Yes, if I am brutally honest with myself, I knew something was not right, and I was uncomfortable from day One.

    Lesson learned: Trust your gut feeling!

    Respond to this comment

  4. Jason

    5 years ago

    Create your own life!
    It is so easy to, out of a desire for success, follow the paths that have brought others success. Do it your own way and if you make a mistake, you learn a lesson. You may just find some novel, revolutionary way of doing something that might end up making you millions of dollars. Follow others for success. Create your own life for SIGNIFICANCE!

    Respond to this comment

    • NajmuzzamaN

      1 year ago

      I connect with that absolutely because it’s the easiest & well-traveled path for every aspect of life.

      Respond to this comment

  5. David Hughes

    5 years ago

    Change will happen to me, or through me. I choose the latter.

    Everything changes and I cant do todays work with yesterdays thinking. I endeavour to stay current and give myself the opportunity to try new ideas and strategies. If it works that’s great, If not I’ll learn from it. Continuous learning assists my understanding.

    Respond to this comment

  6. Richard Lewine

    5 years ago

    Without a system of goals, our only motivation is survival.

    Respond to this comment

  7. Todd Cherches

    5 years ago

    In an ever-changing world, if you’re standing still…you’re falling behind.

    Respond to this comment

  8. Todd Cherches

    5 years ago

    My father wrote in my high school yearbook many years ago: ”
    Good, better, best.
    Never let it rest.
    Til the good is better.
    And the better, best.”

    Respond to this comment

  9. Edna

    5 years ago

    “What`s the price of the mistake?”

    Very similar to Mike`s “Nobody is going to die”
    This is my definition of what a strategic decision is about – one where the price of a mistake is high and even these strategic decisions need to be made fast – or you will lose a strategic opportunity!
    Getting married is a strategic decision. Yet if you wait too long – the relationship goes sour.

    Respond to this comment

  10. Jon Wortmann

    5 years ago

    “Reflect.” I love the quote from John Dewey (not of the decimal system), “We don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” I make sure every day and every week I have time to pause and truly reflect on life and work. Sometimes I do that writing, other times meditating. Some of my best reflections are walking the golf course with friends. The key for me is simply to make sure life isn’t so full of deadlines and to dos that I can’t enjoy what I’m doing and then learning from it.

    Respond to this comment

  11. David

    5 years ago

    Be Responsible.

    We cannot expect anyone else to be responsible for us, whether it be a person or a company in today’s business world. I am the person responsible for my own health, family, career and future. I also preach this to those I lead, to make sure that they understand that even though I will provide leadership and guidance, it is up to them to grow, succeed and build their own careers.

    Respond to this comment

  12. Scott Eblin

    5 years ago

    Get it on the list.

    The story behind this maxim is no one’s going to hold me more accountable than me. In order to meet the commitments I’ve made to others, I have to get my tasks on a master list and be diligent in working the list.

    Respond to this comment

  13. Scott Eblin

    5 years ago

    No situation or condition is permanent.

    The story behind this maxim is based on life experience. I’ve lived long enough to learn that things change. Good things change and bad things change. On more than a few occasions, time has shown that the good things maybe weren’t so good and the bad things maybe weren’t so bad. I have a paperweight on my desk that my wife gave me that has a quote from Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” That’s pretty much the only viable option when things aren’t working out the way you hoped they would. Keep going.

    Respond to this comment

  14. Scott Eblin

    5 years ago

    Follow the Boy Scout law.

    The story behind this maxim is rooted in how I grew up. I wanted to be a Boy Scout because I wanted to go on adventures with my grandfather the Scoutmaster. A lot of the leadership principles I try to live by today come from the Scout Law starting with a Scout being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly and courteous. When people refer to me as being “such a Boy Scout,” I take it as a compliment.

    Respond to this comment

  15. Kim Covert

    5 years ago

    Forward Reflection 360.

    Keep moving forward toward the goal, but take time to reflect and learn from your past mistakes. Be open to the ideas and viewpoints of others, just because it has never been done, doesn’t mean that it won’t work. All great inventions began as an idea that sounded crazy to the people around them.

    Respond to this comment

  16. Javier

    6 years ago

    ABC. That’s my maxim. It stands for “Always be closing.” I love sales. It’s challenging. It’s fun. I don’t care what the product is – as long as I’m out there trying to sell it, working with customers, and closing the deal I’m excited and interested. I saw the movie Boiler Room a long time ago and one of the characters in there told another “ABC! Always be closing!” and I loved the saying so that became my maxim. Now I focus on taking on roles and projects where I get to play a selling role.

    Respond to this comment

  17. Mike Figliuolo

    6 years ago

    Light bulbs.

    That’s one maxim I use to lead myself. I love teaching and when I see light bulbs of understanding turn on for people I get very excited. By reminding myself that I’m about light bulbs, I remember to focus on work and projects that enable me to turn those light bulbs on for folks.

    Respond to this comment

    • Karen

      4 years ago

      I, too, love teaching and the Light Bulb maxim fits me perfectly. It’s so easy to criticize…why not kick it up a notch with motivation and encouragement instead of just being critical and expecting more? Whether it’s with my children, my team, or anyone who happens to ask me a question; I always try to remember to listen first, then consider or talk it through…then suggest. Let the other party gather and make decisions based on the new or additional information they now have.

      Respond to this comment

  18. Mike Figliuolo

    6 years ago

    A maxim I have to form behavioral guidelines for myself is “What would Nana say?” It’s a quick and easy question to ask about any action or decision I’m about to make. If my Nana would be okay with it, then I do it. If not, then I don’t. Talk about an emotional connection! My Nana meant the world to me (she passed away recently) so just thinking about her creates strong emotional pull and helps me make difficult choices.

    Respond to this comment

  19. Nick

    6 years ago

    Challenge accepted. That’s my maxim – I love a good challenge because usually that involves doing something I haven’t done before. Every time I take on a new challenge, I learn something. By having this as my maxim, I encourage myself to take on bigger challenges because no matter what, I’ll end up growing personally and professionally by doing so.

    Respond to this comment

  20. Anonymous

    6 years ago

    Remember when Mel Gibson played Braveheart? “FREEDOM!” is my maxim for leading myself. I love having the ability to choose the work I do (or don’t do) as an entrepreneur. I remember the first time I watched that movie and how inspiring I found it to be. Now every time I’m forced to make difficult choices or work really hard so I can keep running my own business, I remember him yelling “FREEDOM!” which inspires me to keep fighting so I can live the life I enjoy so much.

    Respond to this comment

    • Mike Figliuolo

      6 years ago

      I loved that movie! And I love your maxim. It’s really cool when you can touch on something inspiring to remind you to keep on keepin’ on and working hard for what you enjoy and believe in. Thanks for sharing.

      Respond to this comment

Join the conversation!