They don’t depend on or imitate others. They decide for themselves.
The habit is this (I won’t beat around the bush): not depending on others for your definition of success, for your standards, for your security, for your limits, for your value.
It’s learning to define yourself and your own identity. It’s finding out and choosing who you are instead of conforming to what other people say (or imply) you should be, do, think, or become.
It’s being a leader.
If you want to succeed, you have to be a leader. You don’t necessarily have to leave hordes of people, but you must lead yourself.
How do you know if you are a leader or a follower?
Do you look to others to tell you what to do next?
Are you depending on your peers to tell you what to like, what to think, what to approve, what to make fun of?
Are you willing to own up to your own tastes, opinions, and beliefs even when they’re not popular?
How do you feel when you get made fun of? Nobody likes that, of course. But does it destroy you? Do you change your stance, alter your thinking, adapt in order to fit in? Or do you decide that your values are worth the price of mockery?
How do you develop leadership?
It takes time.
Start by thinking through your own vision and values.
Do you even know what you value? If you don’t, if you aren’t clear on your priorities, your vision, and what you value most in life, you won’t be able to lead anyone else.
A leader must have a vision.
Learn how to make effective decisions.
Being decisive doesn’t mean you are a leader. You can make quick decisions but they can be the wrong ones.
To be a leader, you need to understand why you make the decisions you do make. If you know your values, you’ll be much better at making decisions that support them.
And then you need to follow through. A decision without action is nothing.
Get outside your own circle.
We get trapped in a narrow perspective.
- If all your information is coming from current, limited sources…
- If all your opinions are validated by a group of peers…
- If all your values are supported by your own experience, only…
You need to step outside of your sphere.
Read books: old books, deep books, challenging books. Talk to strangers, people outside of your culture, people far beyond your peer group. Develop some perspective.
Set your own standards.
As you get outside your own circle and get a bigger perspective, you’ll see how your own standards have been limited.
When we set our standards by the here-and-now, we limit ourselves.
So much is possible. So much is important. But a narrow slice of life won’t reveal it all.
As you stretch, and grow, and learn, and see more, you’ll develop understanding. You’ll see more possibility. You’ll see how people can change and grow. You’ll get a sense of who you are, and what you can do, and what you value.
And then you can start setting standards that are appropriate for you: challenging, meaningful, original, yours.
There’s more to being a leader, of course, than what I’ve mentioned here. But this is a good start.
For a next step, find a leader you admire. Learn all you can about him or her. And then think about how you can apply what you learn to yourself.
It’s kind of a funny thing about good leaders. They know how to be good followers… And they’re willing to follow a strong leader.
But following isn’t where they find their identity or security. So learn all you can, and then lead with it.