I have always believed that if you want to become an outstanding leader in life then you have to start leading yourself. You have to start learning how to be an effective leader within your own mindset. That essentially for me comes down to managing that inner language and the emotions that we very often succumb to unknowingly.
There are the inevitable times in our lives where we go through some challenge or another or where we start self sabotaging ourselves, we start allowing the dry rot to set in. We give freedom to that language inside our head that tells us we are not good enough and we are not worthy of achieving the things we desire, of the pursuance of our dreams, of being the best versions of ourselves that we deserve to be; and it always starts off with tiny little thoughts. You get up in the morning and we tell ourselves ‘I really don’t want to face the world today’ or ‘I want to stay in bed today’ or ‘I don’t want to step outside the door today’ or ‘I don’t really want to do any work today’ because you simply don’t want to face up to this challenge that is there. Consequently, these thoughts lead to emotions and feelings which serve to magnify the thoughts. The more we feed these emotions, the more the emotions feed the thoughts and thus we embark on that self-destructive spiralling free-fall towards a regretful life.
The truth behind these thoughts is very often less dramatic. Sometimes the challenge is not that big. Sometimes the challenge may be that you have something going on at work, perhaps a challenging project, or a difficult relationship issue. Yet, rather than face the issue head on, it is easier to hide in the victim mindset. We start feeling very, very sorry for ourselves so we start doing tiny little self-sabotaging things (and they are so tiny we don’t even notice them). They are so tiny, like not jumping out of bed every single morning like you would normally do. Perhaps we relish in becoming the couch potato for the day. Perhaps it is about not making that phone call, not reaching out to people, not having those conversations, not stepping outside your front door, not going to the gym as you normally would do, not eating the right things as you normally would do, binging out on junk food that you know is bad for your body. But you are in this self sabotaging and self destructive mode so you really don’t care anymore, even though deep down you know you will regret this later on.
You will regret it when you feel sluggish. You will regret it when you know you haven’t been productive in the day; but at that moment of time you really don’t care. That tiny little thought that comes into your mind, ‘I’m just going to have some chocolate,’ ‘I’m not going to get out of bed,’ ‘I’m just going to watch television all day,’ ‘I can afford to miss the gym for one day,’ ‘I’m not going to ring my friend today,’ ‘I’m not going to go out as I promised,’ ‘ I’m not going to go out for that walk today,’ ‘I’m not going to do that thing that I promised myself or somebody else’.
These tiny little incremental things that we do throughout the day start increasing and start festering. The more we self-sabotage, the more negative our emotions become. The more we are driven by the emotional area of the brain, without the filter of logic being applied, the worse the tighter the spiral seems to become.
Now it might seem like little tiny little things that we are not doing or doing but are not good for us and in isolation these things look tiny. They appear inconsequential at that moment but when you start putting them together you have actually got dry rot setting in.
Do you know what happens when dry rot sets in?
The infrastructure of your surroundings crumbles. When dry rot sets in the foundation becomes really weak, a building can become vulnerable collapse and eventually it will lead to destruction and that is exactly what happens in life. So if you really want to protect yourself, if you really want to continue to grow and have a successful life, a life that you are not going to regret then you need to be vigilant on those tiny little thoughts and the associated feelings.
This is Inner Leadership for me. It is about developing a level of self-awareness and self-management that is unrelenting.
I used to be a police officer so I will talk in a police officer’s language; Inner Leadership is about policing your mind. Inner Leadership is about being completely conscious in your mindset and being aware of the thoughts that come into your mind and being aware of the emotions coming into your mind. Now this is not me saying that when you are feeling angry or sad we should push it to one side.
The range of we experience emotions are natural for us – but are we noticing them? That is the issue.
I would say pay attention to what is going on inside your head and all these emotions that are rooted in to some thought that is deep within our mind. Watch out for the tiny little incremental things that you allow yourself to do in the day – that not getting out of bed, that not doing the task that your promised yourself you would do, that not eating healthily that you promised yourself you would do so you self sabotage by eating junk; then one day leads to two days and four days and then before you know it, it becomes a lifestyle.
If you truly want to practise Inner Leadership, if you truly want to prevent that rot from setting in or if that rot is beginning to set in right now know that is not too late, it is not irreversible. You cannot give up right now; you can do something about that. Be a police officer to yourself, be a leader to yourself. Every single one of us at given points in our life, if we are influencing other people or influencing circumstances, then we are practising leadership skills. So in essence every single one of us is a leader. If you are a role model to someone else or an influence to someone else then would you want to leave a legacy or a footprint with that person that’s going to be a positive one? If that is the case and you do want to leave a positive footprint and leave a legacy then you really need to master the leadership that you are displaying. So go within yourself. Start looking, start searching and start policing the inner essence of who you are.
The thoughts you are having are leading to the emotions you are feeling and a great gauge that you are not having healthy thoughts is perhaps that your emotions are not where you want them to be. If you are having feelings right now that you are not happy with or not making you feel good, then look for the thought behind that.
This is about going in deeper while most of us just look at the surface of the emotion and give in to it or we look at the surface of a thought and we don’t venture any deeper into that thought. We don’t get to the root cause. More often in life what we tend to do is walk around and put sticking plasters on everything hoping that it is going to sort itself out. Well you try putting a sticking plaster over a burst pipe and it might fix it for a few moments, maybe you might even get away with a whole day of it but eventually that water pipe is going to burst again. You will never completely resolve it until you fix the water pipe and it is no different with your thoughts.
What are your thoughts right now? What are the thoughts in your life that are leading to the dry rot that exists? Can you really afford for that dry rot to completely set in? Can you afford for that dry rot to allow your life to crumble into despair? Can you allow your life to go backwards to a point where you are going to regret it even more to not take action right now? The answer behind it is pretty simple. The philosophy behind it is about policing your mind, it is about searching the inner essence of your mind and it is about having that conscious conversation with yourself rather than allowing that conversation to be unconscious. Rather than responding to everything with a sense of emotion, be a bit more conscious with what you are thinking and therefore the actions you are taking.
For me it really is about being aware, being in a state of awareness. If you have a dream or an aspiration and you are waking up every single morning and putting yourself into autopilot, you are probably not going to move towards your dream.
Now every now and then it is absolutely fine to allow yourself to feel negative, to feel tired and to feel frustrated and do you know what? I still get annoyed and frustrated at things and it is completely natural because these are the whole range of emotions that a human being has. It is a full range of thinking a human has but the difference is when I have those feelings and thoughts, I say to myself quite consciously ‘I am going to allow myself to feel like this for X amount of time but after that then I am going to snap out of it.’
I have a conscious conversation with myself and if the thought is impacting on me in a really negative way then I start challenging it. I look for the evidence.
I hope you find some value in this article to help you be the police officer in your mind to become more vigilant about your thoughts and feelings and stop the dry rot setting in.