“Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow. Learn from their ways and be wise! For though they have no king to make them work, yet they labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you — all you do is sleep. When will you wake up?”
These words were written by a man considered to be the wisest on the planet, King Solomon. (Proverbs 6:7-9 TLB).
I am a fan of Proverbs, so I took some time to reflect on this piece of wisdom, and noted how pregnant it was with leadership wisdom.
I have been invited to speak and train on leadership at many platforms. One of the areas that I have often seen being ignored is that of “Personal Leadership”. Real and effective leadership has to start from self-leadership.
Tiny creatures, but you cannot ignore them. That is the reality of ants. I have actually done a book on that. They are conscious of the times.
They are well aware that winter is coming. They know what will happen during winter, they will not be able to work as they normally do, so they have to be prepared.
This should shed some clarity to every person who is on your team, they need to master the wisdom of the seasons.
Make the most of every season because Winter is coming. Whether you are ready or not, Winter is coming!
There is something interesting in all this, ants have mastered the art of personal leadership. They work hard despite the fact that they have no leader to make them work.
They do not care who is watching, but they focus on results. Now that is self-leadership.
Have you ever seen how people lie in their CVs, where they promise that they can work with little or no supervision at all, and when they get the job, they literally need all the supervision you can get?
Ants are proactive. They do not wait to be pushed. On a scale of 1:10, how well does your team do in terms of self-leadership. Are they self-starters, or they are like wheelbarrows, they are always waiting to be pushed in order for them to move.
Be Intentional about self-leadership
Self-leadership is the greatest form of leadership.
This is what distinguishes the great leaders from the ordinary leaders.
You need to be intentional about succeeding in leading yourself. Mastering and conquering yourself is the first ad best victory. Many people think in terms of leading other people but few think about leading themselves.
A number of times you do not need to work on other people, you need to work on yourself. There is an advert that was a regular feature on many televisions across the African content on HIV/AIDS which had an interesting motto, “Imagine a world without HIV/AIDS…it begins with you.”
The key word is YOU. We cannot influence the world until we have mastered the art of influencing ourselves. You are the epicentre of the change that you want to see in life. Mohandas Mahatma Ghandi put it in a succinct way, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
Overcome yourself first
“He who conquers others is strong but he who conquers himself is mighty.” (Lao Tzu).
The challenge that the world is facing today is that of people who have failed to lead their own lives but they want to lead other people’s lives.
A lot of people want to dominate other people but few think of dominating themselves.
One of the enemies you can ever face in life is not your neighbour, but the person you see daily in the mirror daily.
The desires, thoughts, passions of the person you see in the mirror can be your greatest asset or your worse liability. How much control do you have over yourself?
When your life is in disorder, there is no way that you can put order in the lives of other people. It is so fundamental to take time to think and work on our own lives before we decide to work on the lives of other people.
Consider this, there are people who involve themselves in other people’s marriages when theirs are at the brink of collapse, some are very good at mentoring other people’s children but they fail in mentoring their own children.
There is nothing wrong in desiring to go out and participate in other people’s lives, but you can only be more useful when your own life is in order.
For those who share my faith, Jesus spoke about the issue of personal leadership as well. The sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:3-5 attests to this, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (NKJV)
Change yourself first
Leo Tolstoy once noted that, “many people think of changing the world but few think of changing themselves.” You can never be able to make meaningful contribution in the lives of other people until your life becomes a living testimony of what you preach.
Many people do not buy into the savoury words that we can share but the actions that correspond to the same.
This is why St Francis of Assisi once noted that, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”
You will never be able to live your life effectively when you cannot control yourself. What you do not control will control you.
Win from the inside out
A lot of people appear to be victors on the outside but are victims on the inside. This explains the reason why some marriages are very good to outsiders, but a menace to the parties to it.
Greatness is from the inside out not from the outside in. What is the state of your mind, what values do you meditate upon, how noble are they.
Win at a personal level, before winning at an interpersonal level. Win in your family, win in your own marriage, and win the respect from your own children.
Earn the respect of the people that you work with. You want to see the true character of a person — Pastor, Bishop, father, wife, CEO, whatever the case maybe — ask the people who stay with those people.
Ask their employees, they know better. Be a hero at home, and a hero outside. Do not be an angel to outsiders, and a devil at home.
Take stock of your life
There is no one who is perfect in life, but we need to work on our personal lives daily. There are several areas of life that have to be overcome.
Overcome your thoughts, enhance your mindset, deal with bodily temptations whatever form they might be and any selfishness to mention but a few.
There is no way that you can be able to care about other people when you have not overcome your selfish ambitions.
There is no way that you can be able to give to other people when you have not managed to overcome the “economics” that controls you. There is more to life than just living life for yourself.
This can only be realised when you have succeeded in overcoming yourself. When you take stock of your life, you are able to see the areas that you need to address.
Come up with a personal leadership plan which will guide you. Set your personal leadership goals, the time frames that you need to run with and the strategies that you are going to use.
This week I will leave you with an interesting thought, “If we don’t discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us.” — William Feather.
Join me on Star FM on Wednesdays (09:40am-10:00am) for some moments of inspiration on the Breeze with V Candy.
Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney, keynote speaker, corporate and personal branding speaker commanding the stage with his delightful humour, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences.
He is a financial wellness expert and is passionate about addressing the issues of wellness, strategy and personal and professional development. Arthur is the author of “Toys for Adults” a thought provoking book on entrepreneurship, and “No one is Coming” a book that seeks to equip leaders to take charge.
Send your feedback to [email protected] or Visit his website www.arthurmarara.com or contact him on WhatsApp: wa.me//263780055152 or call +263772467255.