Lead from the inside out – this time it is all about you

Sometimreal riches are insidees leaders need to look inside and reflect on themselves. Your actions may be visible and impactful to everyone around you, but are they still connected to the core of your leadership strength – the desire to help others succeed? What happens when your leadership focus slowly switches from each individual succeeding, to your personal success in making that happen? Albert Einstein once said, “It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.”

Here are three key areas that leaders should focus on as they lead from the inside out:

Hold yourself accountable for the bar you set for yourself – Remember when you started your leadership journey? Each and every time you were able to play a part in someone else’s success it was a thrill and even a wonder. You were humbled when people thanked you for your guidance or mentoring. At this point early in your experience, you understood that you were simply passing on wisdom that you had learned from others before you.

As your leadership influence grows, so will the number of people who you can claim to have had an impact on their lives. Never forget that your reward is in helping people succeed and not in being recognized for the number of people you have helped. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one.

Abraham Lincoln entered the presidency with little legislative or political experience. The bar he set for himself was to save the union and give every individual the opportunity to succeed. He didn’t run for president in order to make friends, or to gather trophies, but to achieve his goals. In speaking about his accountability to the bar he set for himself, Lincoln said, “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end… I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.”

Hold yourself together under stress – Stress is inevitable. It is especially inevitable for successful leaders because they are always out in front experiencing everything first. The secret to holding yourself together under stress is to dig deep inside for that core that brought you success in the first place – helping others succeed.

Wayne Dyer has a funny but very true take on this area, “When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out – because that’s what inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside.”

Hold yourself harmless for taking time away – Leaders need time to relax; time to reenergize their core. Your strategic long term focus should be on helping others succeed. You will help others succeed better if you take time away for yourself. Make it a regular part of your schedule, just like successful leaders do with every other important task.

Ronald Reagan knew this was true when he said, I’ve often said there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.”