Have you got the AURA of Personal Leadership?
Updated: Sep 27, 2018
If you’ve read some of ‘My Story’ or watched any of my videos, you’ll know that part of my life vision is to make a difference in our world by equipping millions of individuals with the skills and mindset of personal leadership, including what I call the 'AURA of Personal Leadership.'
Now, you might be wondering, "What exactly is the 'AURA of Personal Leadership' and how do you get it?"
The dictionary defines aura as,
"a distinctive but intangible quality that seems to surround a person." - www.thefreedictionary.com
At some point, most of us have either thought or said this about another person, "he/she has an aura about him/her." Maybe it was an aura of negativity, an aura of diligence, or one of purpose. Perhaps it was an aura of arrogance, an aura of excellence, or of laziness. It could have been an aura of royalty or simply an aura of indifference. Whatever it was, the reality is that we all have some sort of aura about us. The question is, what kind of aura do you have?
Before you think I’m espousing some sort of New Age philosophy, let’s get specific. This aura isn't a mystical feeling or glow, but qualities characterised by Awareness, Uniqueness, Responsibility, and Authenticity.
Let's unpack that.
Without a good degree of self-awareness, we are extremely limited in our ability to live vibrant, fulfilling, and productive lives. Awareness is often described as the ability to accurately assess and observe our own actions, behaviour, feelings, interests, values, strengths, and limitations. In other words, awareness is our ability to see ourselves for who we really are.
In their book, Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman et al have this to say about self-awareness,
“People with strong self-awareness are realistic---neither overly self-critical nor naively hopeful. They are honest with themselves about themselves. They are honest about themselves with others, even to the point of being able to laugh at their own foibles.”
The challenge is that no one can develop that level of self-awareness and objectivity on their own. It takes welcoming and embracing feedback from others and a good amount of personal reflection. The more self-aware you are, the better the choices you make — choices that bring you greater joy in your personal and professional life, enable you to maximise the use of your talents and skills, and strengthen your connection and relationships with others.
I’m amazed at how easy it is for us as human beings to want to blend in. There is certainly a good side to that. After all, our goal should never be to walk around making others feel intimidated by our presence. But, in the process of blending in, we often lose our true selves and forget that of all the 7 billion+ people on the planet there isn’t, never has been, and never will be another YOU!
John Mason, author of ‘You’re Born an Original - Don’t Die a Copy,’ says:
“Don’t be awestruck by other people and try to copy them. Nobody can be you as efficiently and as effectively as you can.”
Can you imagine Roger Federer trying to sing like Rihanna? Or Bill Gates trying to make it as a Formula One racing driver? Or Oprah trying to become the next golf sensation?
When we forget our uniqueness and ignore our unique mix of talents, skills, and attributes, we resign ourselves to lives of mediocrity or frustration at being square pegs in round holes.
In Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl, the Austrian Neurologist and Psychiatrist, writes,
"Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone's task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it."
You are unique!
One of my favourite stories on responsibility is a biblical story known as the parable of the talents. I know of no other story that more succinctly reinforces the importance of taking responsibility for our lives and the consequences of not doing so.
In the parable, Jesus tells of a rich master who, before embarking on a long trip, entrusted his wealth to three of his servants by giving them five talents, two talents, and one talent respectively. [A talent was worth about 20 years of a worker's day wage. So, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions.] The servants who received five and two talents immediately went ahead and diligently invested their talents, each securing a hundred percent return on investment for their master.
Upon his return, the master was very impressed with the achievements of the servants who had received five and two talents respectively and rewarded them accordingly. The third servant, however, had done absolutely diddly-squat with the talent he received. Instead, he came with a long list of reasons, excuses, and even accusations against his master in justification of his inaction. How did the master respond? Honestly, he was livid! And rightly so.
Here’s one of my key takeaways from that story. There are no acceptable excuses for not taking responsibility. Every one of us is responsible for our choices and actions in life. I admit that has often been a bitter pill for me to swallow, especially when things haven’t turned out the way I expected. Instead of taking a good, sober look at the behaviours and habits that I need to change, it’s easy for me to think of all the external reasons why things went wrong,
We all know people who always have one reason or the other for why everything that is going wrong in their life is everybody else’s fault, never theirs. It’s either someone or some circumstance that has limited their success or affected their relationships or stunted their progress. Far be it from them to take responsibility for their own lives and accept that they are exactly where they have chosen to be.
As a survivor of the Holocaust (World War II), Viktor Frankl knows what he’s talking about when he goes on to say,
“Everything can be taken from a person but the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances – to choose one’s own way.”
There's no denying it. We can't control all the circumstances that we encounter, but we can certainly control our responses and our actions in the face of ALL circumstances.
We are responsible for our lives and our choices. That mindset, more than anything else, is at the heart of personal leadership.
I love Brené Brown’s definition of authenticity in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection,
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
As a recovering perfectionist and aspiring good enough-ist (Brené’s phrase, not mine), I know what it's like to battle with being authentic, to allow myself to be vulnerable, to accept the fact that, like others, I'm made of strength AND struggle, and to believe that I’m enough. I used to think perfection was the way forward, that maturity and success meant eliminating all my weaknesses, and that courage had to do with bravado and invincibility.
Now I realise that courage has more do with taking action despite feeling vulnerable and afraid, and that embracing my failures, weaknesses, and struggles simply means embracing my humanity. I’ve also realised that it’s only when I fully embrace my vulnerability that I can truly and fully embrace my strengths, hopes, desires, and passions.
Authenticity frees us up to contribute fully. It frees us up to passionately serve within our organisations, communities, and our world. Contrary to popular belief, authenticity, some assert, is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.
There you have it. If we want to live vibrant, fulfilling, and productive lives then we need to have the right aura about us - the 'AURA of Personal Leadership.'
To lead ourselves effectively and to responsibly invest our unique skills and talents, we must let go of who we think we're supposed to be and embrace who we are.
Having the AURA of Personal Leadership isn't about perfection. It isn't about playing it safe. And it's not even about being THE best. Instead, it's about being YOUR best – the best YOU that you can be. It's about developing the right attributes and mindset to maximise your success in life. It's about living your best life, TODAY!
So, if someone was talking about your 'aura' this week, would it include words like - Aware, Unique, Responsible, Authentic?
I sincerely hope it would. But the choice, as they say, is yours!