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Making a Difference in Your World

Ultimately, at a very practical level, we judge a person’s ability for self-leadership in the same way we judge leadership in general—the ability to make things happen, manage change, and achieve results.

Committing to your personal evolution and learning the skills involved in personal mastery, internal cohesion and external cohesion are a means to this end. Internally, the result we want to achieve is a sense of inner peace and personal fulfilment. We do that by maintaining balance in our lives—by living stress free. Externally, the result we want to achieve is to stay in the flow, make a positive difference in the world, and live in harmony with others and our environment.

Making a difference in your internal world, and in the world around you, requires you to challenge your beliefs and assumptions, connect with and leverage your influence by using your points of power, and collaborate with others who are focused on the same goals, mission or vision.

Challenging your assumptions

Your assumptions are beliefs that you hold to be true. They may or may not be true, but they colour your perception of reality. Beliefs manifest as thoughts. When you challenge your assumptions you need to ask yourself, “Are the thoughts I am thinking really true?”

If you want to make a difference in the world you need to make this way of thinking a way of life, not just challenging your assumptions, but also the assumptions of others. You need to become a seeker of clarity.

This means being not being afraid to question authority. You cannot do this if you are holding onto fears about meeting your deficiency needs. It takes clarity and courage to challenge authority. This is why individuation is so important. You have to become your own master if you want to maximize your impact in the world. You need to become independent, and you need to develop a self-authoring mind if you are going to challenge other people’s assumptions. If you are going to collaborate with others you will need to go further: you will need to recognise your interdependence, and develop a self-transforming mind.

The biggest challenge you face is your own self-belief, especially when you are young. You assume that others with more experience know better than you do what needs to be done. You tend to follow instructions because you know you are young and inexperienced. You need to let go of this constraint. Speak up; speak out, and be willing to take feedback, and always remember it is not about being right, it is about getting things right. Therefore, don’t identify with your position. Get beyond your attachment to being right and seek out what is true.

Clarity, courage and self-belief are the three most important values in challenging assumptions.

Connecting with your power   
Everyone has multiple sources of power. Even if you are just starting out on your career, your youth, your naivety, and lack of training (ignorance) can serve you in this regard. You will be able to ask questions that no one else is asking, and bring a different mind-set to the situation. You cannot ask a stupid question if the question you are asking is in the service of clarity—yours or anyone else’s.

The five most common sources of external power are position, knowledge, task, relationship, and personal.

  • Position as power speaks to your authority—the position you hold in a hierarchy of decision-makers.  This type of power enables you to bring resources—people and finances—to a situation. It is about who you are in a hierarchy or pecking order. 
  • Knowledge as power speaks to your special expertise, experience or skills in a particular domain. You use your credibility to bring insight to a situation. It is about what you know.
  • Task power speaks to your ability to support or hinder progress by virtue of the fact that you are in a position to control who and what is seen or not seen by decision-makers.  It is about your power to block or promote people or ideas.
  • Relationship power speaks to the connection or bond you have with people who could be influential in making a decision. It is about who you know.
  • Personal power speaks to your strength of character, passion, inspiration, and wisdom, as well as your emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills and capabilities. All these attributes and skills come together to enable you to inspire and persuade others.  It is about who you are on the inside.

So before you convince yourself that there is nothing you can do in a situation, take a few moments to analyze your points of power, and then strategize how to use them. Focus on what you can do, and challenge your assumptions about what you believe you can’t do.

When you approach people to move your ideas forward tell them what you need. “I need 20 minutes of your time to get your point of view on something that is important to me. Can I see you today?”

One of the most important lessons you can learn in life that is applicable to all situations is to always ask for what you need.  Asking for what you need is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself. 

Collaborating with others 
Collaborating with others has many advantages, not the least of which is to get more ideas on the table. For the moment, what you need to know is that collaboration significantly depends on your ability to bond and cooperate with others on a specific project or programme.

Your ability to bond is determined by your ability to trust and be trusted. Your ability to cooperate is determined by your ability to display empathy. Your ability to trust and display empathy is determined by your ability to stay in alignment with your authentic self.

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