Leadership Starts With Yourself

Josh Babcock, April 26th, 2023 | Leadership, Discipline

Simba a young lion, and the heir to Pride Rock would watch his father Mufasa who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Mufasa knew exactly how to lead his pride well.  I’m sure Simba had thoughts like, I’m never going to be my father,  I doubt he was even a cub once, how does he always know what to say in tough situations?  Fast forward, after a bunch of dramatic plot twists Mufasa dies and Simba knows he must now lead the pride.  Then he adds two friends into the mix that he learns to lead, Timon and Pumbaa. Soon after, he begins to confidently lead Pride Rock. 1

If you want to lead others well you must figure out how to lead yourself first.   Here are 5 steps to start leading yourself.  This is not the type of list you can just check off.  This is a life journey in leadership growth.

5 Steps to Start Leading Yourself:

  1. Take Ownership
  2. Define Success
  3. Have Discipline in Your Plan
  4. Continuous Learning
  5. 1% Better Flywheel

Take ownership

As a leader, your first step is to take ownership of your current circumstances.  I don’t know what you are going through but pointing fingers and blaming others is only going to hurt you.  Even if you have a very good reason. Think of a time when you got sick or hurt.  You can mope around that you’re sick/hurt or you can CHOOSE to figure out how you can proactively get better.  I hurt my back when I was 19 and for a few years my response was always this is so annoying.  Why can’t this pain just go away? Why me? Then one day I decided to take action.  I added more stretching and core activities to my daily routine.  It made the world of a difference. This goes with everything, we can’t control what goes on around us but we can choose how we respond.

  • Simba took ownership of the fact that being away from his pride was just him running away from his problems.

Define Success

Gaining clarity in your life is so important.  If you don’t know what success looks like, how will you know what race to run and how to celebrate?  Think of the getting hurt example.  Success is getting healed of my back pain.  Oftentimes, in the most important areas of life like leading yourself, we never seem to define success. A great place to start is the first step in the book Eat That Frog!, “Set The Table”.  Brian Tracy says you must write down on a piece of paper exactly what you want.  He gives examples of how doing this changed the trajectory of his life.  He did this in many areas including to help him achieve success at work but the two that really stood out were the following.  He defined all the attributes of his future wife and he even did this with his future house.  Guess what happened?  He ended up getting both and they are still paying dividends in his life.  It sounds weird but we must figure out what the win is!

  • Simba defined success as overthrowing his Uncle Scar who was poorly leading Pride Rock and for him to start leading his pride.

Have Discipline in Your Plan

Time for the hard part, you took ownership and defined success. Now take action and get your hands dirty.   Come up with a plan and do it.  Back to the back pain example.  It’s easy to learn about stretches and activities to do.  What makes real change in your life is doing it day in and day out even when you’re tired or don’t feel like doing it. The second step in Eat that Frog! is “Plan every day in advance”.  He calls it the “6P formula: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance”.   I’m going to do XYZ stretches right after my morning coffee and right before I go to bed to help my back pain.  Now do it, no excuses.  Be the person who keeps promises to yourself.

  • Simba came up with a plan, delegated responsibilities, and had the courage to confront his Uncle Scar to free his pride.

Continuous Learning

To become a leader people want to follow you must be an avid learner, seeking more wisdom and knowledge in all areas of your life. Get mentors in your life. These are people who are a couple of steps ahead of you in whatever area you are trying to grow.  Then, find out what steps they took to get there.  You can do this the old fashion way by finding people and grabbing lunch with them and asking them purposeful questions.  Or my favorite way is to pick up a book, find a podcast, YouTube video, blog, and just do some research. It’s crazy the access we have into people’s lives. Most people that have success aren’t hiding how they got there.  They want to share their knowledge with the next generation.

  • When Simba was in the wilderness he sought counsel from a wise and slightly crazy mandrill named Rafiki.  Rafiki taught him the lesson not to run from his past but to learn from it.

1% Better FlyWheel:

Continue to do this in all areas of your life and you will see CRAZY compound interest in the years to come.  We always overestimate the short term and underestimate the long term.  Just keep on growing every day.   Win the day!  Take ownership, define success, have discipline in your plan, and never stop learning then repeat.

  • The Lion King 2 is a perfect example,  you can truly see the growth in Simba’s leadership but he is still learning.  His daughter Kiara teaches him a lesson about forgiveness by the end of the movie.

If you lead yourself well, people will notice.  Trust me, more responsibility will come your way and your leadership will only grow.   And don’t forget, even when you make it to the “top,” your day still starts with leading yourself!

“First be a leader of yourself. Only then can you grow to lead others.” - David Taylor-Klaus