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lead yourself to success:

embrace simplicity

May 7, 2023 / Ronny Eriksson

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lead yourself to success: embrace simplicity

"Leadership is not about men in suits. It is a way of life for those who know who they are and are willing to be their best to create the life they want to live." - Kathleen Schafer


I've failed as a leader.


It's rough to admit that, but on the other side, owning up to that has allowed me to wake up to the reason why.


I'm known for doing a lot.


On top of that, I'm known for complicating things.


When ambitious, it is easy to forget the simple rules of success.


Let me explain what I mean.


All my life, I've been chasing success, be it in sports, work, or life.


Success for me has meant executing at the highest level possible.


Validation for this success has been external.


Coaches and scouts decide your level in sports.


In work, you get promoted or invested in.


You look up to others in life – "That person lives my dream life, so I need to be like her."


All this forces us to fit one of the molds out there.


Molds made by other people replicate the tools they need to be successful.


While some people might be fit for these molds, like Cinderella for her shoes, it's more of an exception that breaks the rule.


I say this for one simple reason.


We need to find out what success means for us.


We still need to do the work to figure it out.


Few of us even know that we can figure that out.


Therefore, the result becomes what my life has been.


You end up thinking you are "lost."


The result of this thinking will always keep you lost because thoughts guide our results.


As the saying goes, "You are what you eat," the same applies here, and "You become what you think."


So, what does a lost person do?


She is still determining if what she does is the right thing to do.


Without direction, she does everything in a complex way to impress others.


Doing a lot of things is hard. Doing a lot of complex things is even harder.


The result is rarely successful, and you will only succeed if you can reach your goal.


Our brains hate suffering, making it immensely hard to continue the search.


So, we give up and bend to a mold.


And now we're stuck in the rat race.


If being stuck in the rat race differs from the result you're looking for, keep reading. Today we'll look at how simplicity is the key to opening the door to lead yourself successfully.

the self-leadership problem

"All human beings are self-leaders; however, not all self-leaders are effective at self-leading" – Manz.


We spend a lot of time reading self-help books to do better.


We often believe that reading more self-help books makes us better, keeping us stuck in the same loop of thinking.


It's simple to understand why:

  1. We've been thinking that reading is productive and time well spent.

  2. The more you read, the wiser you become.

  3. The more intelligent you are, the better you do.

In school, this system works because the model is to read a textbook, fill your brain with the info, and then empty the information on a paper during a test.


A genius method of leadership is to take people from point A to B, measure how well they are following and reward them based on that.


But not a suitable method to teach people how to lead themselves from point A to B.


So when trying to improve our lives, we do what we've learned. 


We read textbooks, but then we need to figure out where to output that info because no one tells us or rewards us for that work.


Now our brain is lost:

  1. It doesn't know what to do.

  2. It gets confused.


A confused brain finds itself lost. 


We complicate things and do more in search of that dopamine kick we got from the rewards earlier.


So, what do we do? 


We make the result more complicated; we start another self-help book.


We do more of the complicated. Remember what I said before?


"Doing a lot of things is hard. Doing a lot of complex things is even harder."


Not odd we are failing.


We can change this pattern for the better, fortunately.

leading the way

Now that we put the journey into practice keep focusing on simplicity.


Step 1: Establishing Your Origin: Embrace Honesty and Simplicity

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi


To begin your self-leadership journey, start by assessing your current position. 


This assessment should be both honest and straightforward. 


Take a moment to reflect on your values, skills, strengths, and weaknesses. 


Be truthful about where you stand and how far you have come. 


Complete this process by focusing on the essential aspects of your character and life situation. 


Remember, the more precise your starting point, the easier to chart your path forward.


Step 2: Crafting Your Destination: Aim for Simplicity


"Begin with the end in mind." - Stephen Covey.

After establishing your starting point, the next step is determining your desired destination.


Keep this vision simple and achievable. 


What do you want to accomplish? What does success look like for you? 


As you define your endpoint, concentrate on the core goals that genuinely resonate with you. 


Avoid including every ambition you've ever had, as this can dilute your focus and impede your progress. 


Remember, simplicity is crucial to self-leadership.

the straightforward solutions

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - Leonardo da Vinci.


Inspired by Chris Hirst's 'No Bullshit Leadership,' seek straightforward solutions to your challenges in your self-leadership journey. 


As you work towards your goals, resist the urge to overcomplicate matters. 


Focus on addressing issues with practical, easy-to-implement answers. 


Simplify your decision-making process by breaking down complex situations into smaller, more manageable components.

are you leading yourself?

Dolly Parton once said, "If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader."


If you rephrase it, this quote goes for yourself: "If your actions create a legacy that inspires your brain to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader of yourself."


I'm confident you're on a good path if you've made it this far.


The truth is that everyone is leading themselves to some extent.


Some are leading themselves to greatness, while others are to the grave.


Reading this proves you're aiming for greatness, as this is not a journal covering how to use heroin.


When you actively decide you're leading yourself, you can start to improve.


No one is born great at leading themselves. There is no self-leadership type.


Like basketball, drawing, or psychology, self-leadership is a set of skills you can develop to master.


We can all lead ourselves if we choose to, and what follows is how.

where are you leading yourself?

Self-leadership is difficult but not complicated.

Leadership is the same, whatever the context is.

You might be leading a multi-million company, a team in sports, or, as we talk about in this article, yourself.

The goal of leadership is simple:

Getting from one place to another

Chris Hirst has made a simple graphic to help you understand it. 

elevating from good to great

"Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline." - Jim Collins.


Drawing on Jim Collins' wisdom, recognize that achieving greatness results from conscious choices and discipline.


Identify the habits and behaviors contributing to your self-leadership journey, and prioritize those that propel you towards greatness. 


Embrace the growth mindset and commit to continuous improvement, refining your skills and expanding your knowledge as you pursue your goals.

the roadmap to success

"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." - Lao Tzu.


After defining your starting and end points, it's time to devise a plan to bridge the gap between them.


Leading yourself with simplicity is about embracing honesty, focusing on core values and goals, and seeking straightforward solutions. 


The initial problem highlighted the challenge of feeling lost and the tendency to complicate matters to impress others, often leading to suffering and giving up on personal aspirations.


When redefining success according to your aspirations and desires, you address the self-leadership problem directly.


This approach empowers you to leave the rat race and reach genuine self-fulfillment. 


Instead of getting lost in the chaos of trying to please others or fit into predefined molds, you gain clarity and direction through simplicity and intentionality.


The self-leadership problem arises when we read self-help books hoping to improve ourselves but need to know how to put that knowledge into practice. 


In applying the principles of simplicity and self-leadership, you bridge the gap between theory and action, focusing on what matters most to you.


Moreover, this approach is about recognizing that true greatness lies not in fitting into predefined molds but in forging your path and becoming the best version of yourself. 


By cultivating a growth mindset, embracing discipline, and maintaining adaptability, you develop the resilience and determination to overcome challenges and continue progress on your self-leadership journey.


Ultimately, this text's simplicity, self-awareness, and self-leadership principles provide a roadmap to address the self-leadership problem and chart a course toward meaningful success. 


By reshaping your understanding of what it means to be successful, you unlock your potential for personal growth, happiness, and fulfillment, transcending the limitations imposed by societal expectations and external validation. 


This transformative process enables you to become a better leader of yourself and inspire and positively impact those around you.


Focus on the simple things.


Do those things well.


This way, we will all lead better.


Leadership starts with leading yourself. 


That's where I failed.


I hope to see you thrive.




- Ronny

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