I recently spent a week in the hospital recovering from surgery and those were my words when I looked in the mirror and saw how others were seeing me. A sick person in a hospital gown and connected to an IV! Yet after a few days that is how I started to feel and act.
Steven Covey calls this the social mirror. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he says, “If the only vision we have of ourselves comes from the social mirror, our view of ourselves is like the reflection in the crazy mirror room at the carnival.” As leaders we can lose track of who we really are when we rely on our social mirror. Instead of truly understanding ourselves we limit ourselves to an incomplete or inaccurate understanding.
To truly understand ourselves requires purposeful inner reflection along with listening to what others say. It starts by asking yourself the following questions:
- What do I truly believe about leadership?
- Where won’t I compromise as a leader?
- What is most important to me as a leader?
- How do I want others to describe me as a leader?
- What do I value most in myself?
- What concerns or fears do I need to acknowledge as a leader?
- How can I make the biggest difference as a leader?
- Where do I need to flex or adjust as a leader to help others succeed?
Taking the time to answer these types of questions is the first step to understanding who you are as a leader and becoming the leader you want to be!
I asked myself a few similar questions in the hospital and my answers reminded me that I am a healthy, active and competitive person – and I made sure that I got out of bed and moving around, even connected to my IV, each day!