The man in the mirror can be as real or as fake as you want him to be. When you ask the person staring back at you: “where can I do better?” Will that person tell you to take ownership? Or will that person help you discover ways to place blame, find excuses, or maybe even deny that problems exist?
This exercise may sound simple, and the answers might even be simple ones, but the execution is far from easy. Because being a leader means taking responsibility and giving credit—both being byproducts of the banking of one's ego. Simple to say, not easy to do.
The ego, however, can be a fickle thing. It can help us develop a sense of self-worth, self-importance, and self-respect. Which is why the ego should not be looked upon as an enemy of the state. It should be checked, constantly evaluated, and put in its proper place.
When the ego isn’t performing how it should, we begin looking for reasons why something didn’t work out the way we wanted them to, instead of taking ownership of the outcome. What if we do have more control over things than we think? What if it was our responsibility? What if leadership is a skill? A technique we can all learn?
Cue the ego!
- Don’t check your bank account. If you never look at it, your money problems don’t exist.
- The teacher was awful, anyway. You never stood a chance to learn anything in that class.
- Your team members are completely incompetent. It’s not like they ever understand anything you tell them.
- Your boss never communicates anything clearly. How are you supposed to get anything done when you aren’t sure what your priorities are?
Unfortunately, these are the lies we tell ourselves. We, too quickly, place blame, make excuses and deny that we have anything to do with it.
Now, this isn’t to say we need to beat ourselves up over everything. Instead, consider for a moment your ability to influence, change, and manage. You are more powerful than you think, capable than you know, and stronger than you can understand. What if it was up to you? What if you could do something about it? What if it’s not their fault? What if you were where you are today as a result of everything you’ve done, said, thought, quit doing, didn’t quit doing, prayed for, asked for, neglected, saw, decided to do, chose not to pursue?
Would that change how you approach things? It just might help you see things differently. You just might start seeing change. You just might start hearing people call you a leader.