In your career, you’ll end up leading many different kinds of people, some who take direction better than others.


If you want to be an excellent leader—no matter who’s on your team—you have to start by leading yourself.


Leading yourself means gathering information, which translates to knowledge. With experience, your knowledge becomes wisdom. Wisdom leads to growth, and it’s that growth and change that will allow you to inspire others to take action.


On the other hand, if you don’t learn to lead yourself first, you’ll find that you’re constantly trying to put out the same fires with team members over and over again. Because if you can’t lead yourself then you can’t lead others.


What does it look like to “lead yourself”?


Here are three vital leadership habits that George Raveling (basketball coach, Global Nike Marketing) uses daily to lead himself.

#1 Manage Your Self-Talk

The most important conversation you can have is the one with yourself.


Take stock of your daily conversations with yourself. Three or four of them must involve Positive Self Talk. Otherwise, you’re creating a hostile environment that you can’t escape.


The good news is that you can absolutely take control of your internal conversations.


Keep in mind that all of your thoughts are choices. 


If you find yourself becoming negative or pessimistic, simply pause. Since a lot of negative self-talk involves statements about what will happen or what others are thinking, it can be useful to ask yourself a few simple questions: “Can I predict the future? Can I read someone else’s mind?” These questions stop you from adding more fuel to the fire of negative self-talk.


At the end of day, perform a mental audit as part of self talk:

  • What’s working?
  • What’s not working?
  • How can you make course corrections?
  • How can you hold yourself to the highest standard?
  • How can you be a positive difference maker?


A great leader uses positive self-talk to be in control of thoughts, rather than the other way around.

#2 Govern Your Day with Leadership Principles


As a leader, Mr. Raveling gives himself only two choices: be happy or be very happy. He controls this kind of outcome by using Four Points of Focus throughout his day:


  1. Energy Management

Know where your energy is going. Declutter your mind so that you’re not expending energy worrying about things you can’t control.


  1. Time Management

Know where your time is going. Focus on one thing at a time and then take Massive Action to achieve your goals rather than distractedly bouncing between one task and another.


  1. Environmental Management

Pay attention to where you spend your time. Even though your internal self-talk is key, no one is immune to people and places that are negative. Choose to walk away from gossip and complaining, or else work to make the environment more positive for everyone by politely changing the subject.


  1. Productivity

When you’re using the first three points of focus, productivity will naturally follow. Use it as your barometer: If you’re finding that you’re not productive, check in on your time, energy, and environmental management.

#3 Develop the Habits of a Leader


Leading yourself doesn’t mean doing it all on your own, but it does require that you build a habit of self-sufficiency and self-awareness.


  • Be resourceful. Don’t look for answers from others; teach yourself.
  • Be self-aware. What results are you creating? How are they related to the stories you’re creating about the facts?
  • Don’t over commit. Create maximum efficiency by committing to only four things a day.


Whether you’re leading hundreds of employees, a small team, or just yourself, developing these qualities and behaviors will take your workplace skills to the next level.


Look back through these three tips. Where’s one place where you know you need to improve? Start there and begin building your habit of self-leadership today.


Need help discovering where your leadership gaps are? Not sure how to implement self-leadership? I specialize in helping you make and stick to a plan for success so that you can fulfil your leadership potential and have your best career. Schedule your free strategy session today! [Click Here]