stock photo, love, feeding, care, boy, hungry, baby, baby-boy, son, man, infant, dad, parents, lovely, feed, responsibility, parenthood, daddy, black-man, fathers-day, fathers-day, feeding-bottleHow do you take charge of your life and become your own best leader?  How does your personal leadership translate into effective and respected leadership of others?  These are questions pertinent to home as well as work, unless you live and work totally alone and belong to no associations or organizations.  What’s the first step to take?

We must begin with personal responsibility.  As much as we would sometimes like to shift responsibility on others who raised us, taught us, guided our lives in some way, at some point we have to take responsibility for how we’ve incorporated that teaching or guidance into our daily decisions.  We’ve got to quit the blame game.

It’s taken me a long time, decades, for me to realize in how many ways I foisted responsibility on others for the decisions and choices I made. In this process I realize how codependent I’ve been, how often I allowed my feelings, reactions, and decisions to flow from what I believed others expected of me.  Deep inside I believed that making others happy and pleased with me would cause them to give me what I wanted or needed in life. This is delusional thinking.

I thought I was a responsible person until I realized there are two kinds of responsibility.  The first has to do with tasks I was given:  school work, music lessons, paid jobs, chores around the house.  I usually excelled at getting these done properly and in time.  This pleased my parents, teachers, bosses, and others who at least saw me as a reliable and trustworthy person most of the time.

Only following college did I realize that I had to engage the second kind of responsibility: for my life itself, quite apart from tasks.  It was at this point I shifted from going to dental school and instead went to seminary to become a parish priest. Even here my motivation was suspect.  As I look back I realize I was still looking for approval from authorities, this time the church hierarchy and their agents.

The big shift came when I left the priesthood and went off on my own.  I removed myself from the overview of the hierarchy.  I shed my need for affirmation from my parishioners.  And I gradually came out as a gay man, free at last simply to be myself. Eventually I found my new life as a life coach and spiritual director, helping people in my own way, in my own time, with the gifts at my disposal.

A true leader of others leads himself first.  True leaders gain respect and admiration by not blaming others and by seeing how their decisions and actions affect the overall process. Respected leaders take final responsibility even when others were involved in the outcome.

Respected leaders will apologize when they’ve been in error and will not beat themselves in shame when falling short of their goals. Examining situations dispassionately and compassionately, they model how team members ought to deal with disappointment and then move forward.

Have you experienced being your own leader or are you being led by the nose-ring, like a bull enslaved to plow the fields for its owner?  How have you made the transition to really respecting yourself and thus garnering the admiration of others?  Dare you believe that you are a true and respected leader to whom others look for prudent and wise guidance?  Why not? 

© Copyright Michael Parise 2017
Portions excerpted from Michael’s book: Life Interrupted, Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed
Since 1979 Michael has worked with individuals and groups to take full advantage interruptions and changes to balance responsibilities, simplify their lives, and find greater productivity and peace.
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