Tools for leaders


By Karin Leonard

Leadership, whether it refers to leading others, or being the executive of your own life, means taking charge of the internal environment, along with the external one.  Building “Inner Authority” starts with developing the kind of dialogue within that has you experiencing victory at the end of the day, instead of feeling drained and overwhelmed.

The ability to observe and direct the thought process is one of the most precious assets for personal mastery.  Negative thoughts can follow us anywhere -- even into the infinite sea of bliss.  Truly, the key to heaven or hell is between our ears, and we make the choice many times a day.   

What Is Your Internal “Weather”?

Awareness is the first ingredient for creating an inner climate conducive to success.  Only when you become conscious of what is going through your mind, on a regular basis, do you actually have choice.  As long as you are on automatic pilot, the forces of habits determine internal experience, and along with these patterns, the results you produce in life.

For thirty days, turn up the volume on your inner dialogue, and notice what you are saying to yourself.  How will you remember?  Examples would be: Notes to yourself, a

daily log, wearing your watch on the opposite arm – or whatever has you waking up many times during the day.

Program For Success

As you become conscious of what you are saying to yourself on a regular basis, you can begin to cultivate what you want -- instead of repeating outdated messages. Let’s take the example of Susan, a small business owner. If we step inside her world for a moment, we are bombarded with: “I just never get enough done…I’ll never catch up … I don’t have any time.”  This constant chatter has her feeling exhausted, without truly experiencing the rewards of her success.  Assuming that this inner dialogue is her attempt to motivate herself, Susan may wish to change her self-talk to “I use my time well” or “I am highly effective and competent”.  At first this may be awkward, just as learning anything new. Yet after some ongoing practice, the new self-talk becomes automatic, and enjoyable suggestions sink into the deepest caverns of the mind, inviting success.

Of course, Susan also needs to decide whether her daily expectations of herself are realistic.  And, healthy self-evaluation has us objectively judging whether we can improve our process, or skills.

Integration Is The Key

Developing effective self-talk goes deeper than just using affirmations.  The goal is to distill the gold from negativity, and to embrace the positive intentions within self- criticism.  The messages we internalized from childhood on were usually aimed at success and happiness.  Parents, who nagged us about grades, for example, probably wanted us to have options later in life.  We can witness an extreme example of that in the movie Shine, based on a true story. Geoffrey Rush plays David Helfgott, an incredibly talented concert pianist, who is being incessantly pushed to perform, by his intensely critical and obsessive father.  After David experiences a nervous breakdown, he emerges permanently damaged. In the gibberish he speaks out loud, we can still identify his father’s relentless voice.

As you hear the echoes of your own early messages, you can seek to understand the well-meaning intent within them.  And just like Susan in the earlier example, you may want to experiment with more effective strategies for motivation – with self-talk that inspires, rather than nagging criticism.

 In our professional and personal relationships many of us will also have a ruthless inner critic. Let that be a reminder of the importance of recognition, and honest praise, reinforcing what you want, instead of focusing on failure.  

For information:   

Karin Leonard & Associates:  (831) 724-5400  

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