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Self-leadership. It’s something often spoken about, but we’re not always very clear about what this is and why it matters so much in determining our future success.

According to Bryant and Kazan,

Self-leadership is having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, where you are going coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviors on the way to getting there.

In other words, it’s about being more self-aware of why you think and behave in the way you do and to then apply self-determination and conscious choice to seek what could be done better and what else you need to know.

Taking a look at this from your brain’s perspective here are 7 things you can do to master great self-leadership.

1. Stay safe

This is you brain’s primary objective. Anything new or different alerts you to the possibility of “Eeek, this could be dangerous, let’s leave NOW!” But is this really a scary thing or just your mind playing tricks because you’re coming from a place of fear? 

Novelty can be seen as a threat or massive opportunity depending on how you frame it up. So, challenge that thought and consider,

“ Am I feeling this way because I’m not sure how best to respond?”

“ Is this because I felt this way before everything cratered in my last relationship?”

“I’m so scared, but gosh it’s going to feel so good when I’ve got through this presentation/exam/interview.”

If your thoughts are holding you back, it’s time to unbuckle the mental straitjacket and give yourself permission to succeed.

Choose to be intentional about your goals to develop the clarity required to keep you on track and focused on the prize.

2. Seek reward

We’ve all got a number of strengths and weaknesses. Playing to your strengths helps you to develop greater confidence and motivates you to keep going. That sense of doing good or winning lights up your brain’s reward circuitry to release more dopamine.

Oh yes please, pass me another dopamine cupcake right now.

Courage comes from taking action, here, setting a deadline to get started (or finished) can get you over that hump of procrastination.

3. Find support

The strength of your positive relationships are your superpower. They provide safety, reward and free up your mental energy to stay focused, share knowledge and amplify your results. Choosing to work with a coach, mentor or support network means being willing to receive their perspective on how you’re progressing, how you come across in all your dealings and stay open to other ideas.

Sharing your aspirations and goals will clarify what you really want in your own mind while demonstrating your willingness to take responsibility and stay accountable.

4. Stay true to who you are

We can smell inauthenticity a mile off.

Susan was working hard as a leadership coach, but her business wasn’t growing, and the irony was some of her clients had reported back they didn’t feel she was a leader herself. By taking ownership of the insight she had been trying to be the person she thought they were expecting, she was able to shake off the mask and allow others to see her for who she was.

5. Adopt a beginner’s mind

So, you’ve been to school, got a college degree and have enough qualifications dangling off your shoulders to run the country. But leadership is far more than ‘knowing’. Being too comfortable in your knowledge and expertise can keep you stuck, while everything else around you is evolving and changing at high speed. Choose to stay curious to all options, seek to listen and learn, so you can adapt quickly and in the right way.

6. Grab autonomy with both hands

Having the freedom to express your ideas, and the self-direction to work the way you know works best for you allows you to deliver what you know you’re capable of, and more. Taking the initiative demonstrates your ability to step up and grow your capability.

7. Stay human

Your best self is always the self that has included time out for self-care, rest and recovery. Developing a positive foundation begins by acknowledging the need for good sleep, sufficient exercise, healthy food and effective stress management. How you achieve this is up to you, but making time to relax, meditate and uncouple from work creates the space for you to enjoy the vitality, clarity and influence you seek as you further develop your self-leadership.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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