Have you ever wondered how people who have had to face daunting circumstances are able to press on and rise above the situations to create breakthrough success in their lives, while others lose their motivation and quit altogether? Why are some people able to maintain a fiery drive toward their goals in the face of obstacles while the inner drive of others fizzles? What’s the secret to maintaining a fierce and determined attitude towards achieving success in the face of the inevitable obstacles you will have to face? You’ve got to develop, nurture and exhibit effective personal leadership smarts that empower you to lead from within. The quality of your self-leadership determine how well you respond to challenges and optimize them into opportunities.

According to Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Great by Choice, “Leading from within requires that you develop the habit of being aware of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, words and “life messages”. Leading from within requires the development of effective personal leadership habits. Effective personal leadership habits will help you nurture the smart thinking and behavioral smarts necessary to be successful where you are now, while preparing you for where you want to go next. Jim Rohn once said, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” You have the potential to achieve success in life. Whether or not you realize this potential is completely up to your commitment toward developing personal leadership smarts.

Your present leadership habits are a reflection of the beliefs and assumptions that make up the “word in your heart” about who you are, who you can become, what you can do and what you are worthy of experiencing. It is the “word in your heart” that is influencing the actions you are taking toward your present experiences. And it is the effectiveness of these actions that will determine how successful you will be at maintaining the motivation it takes to achieve your desired objectives and goals in life.

Maintaining the motivation it takes to achieve the level of success you want to experience comes down to creating and nurturing a story in your heart that reflects positive beliefs about the innate strength of your spirit, your capacity to overcome challenges and your ability to make right decisions that lead to positive outcomes. This story will create positive beliefs about how you see yourself, what you can do and what you are worthy of experiencing in life. As it transforms your identity it will influence the effectiveness of your response to external influences. Improving the effectiveness of your approach to diverse situations will produce positive experiences which serve as evidence that you are enough and capable of making things happen for your greater good.

The sense that you are making progress toward the achievement of your goals will strengthen your intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is powerful. It consists of a compelling vision of what you believe is possible and a burning desire to achieve a particular outcome. Intrinsic motivation is rarely dependent upon external circumstances being exactly as you would like. It fuels the belief, “where there is a will, there is a way”. Cultivating a burning desire toward a particular goal tends to increase the amount of intrinsic motivation you feel from within to stay the course and not give up. You are more apt to tap into your creative power, and embody an agile mindset and adaptive approach toward solving problems and overcoming obstacles as you navigate your path to success.

When you have positive beliefs about who you are and what you can accomplish, you are more apt to be proactive towards your goals, even in the face of daunting challenges. Instead of waiting for people or circumstances to change before you begin to take action toward realizing your dreams, you’ll accept the responsibility that it’s up to you to play the hand you’ve been dealt and move forward with a sense of hope, faith and determination to achieve the success you want. As you rise above your challenges and navigate incremental progress that leads to success, you will begin to create a personal toolbox of personal leadership habits that work for you.

Of course, there will be moments when you become discouraged by your ability to manage the challenges in your life. During these instances, it is easy to be distracted from your intended goals by self-defeating assumptions. You are not alone, all of us have been derailed, at one time or another by self-defeating assumptions and counterproductive behavior. People with a resilient and growth mindset recognize this tendency and develop a go-to framework of actions that pull them out of this mental funk. You are resilient. Don’t just take my word on it. Recall a time when you felt like giving up, but you didn’t. Consider how the challenge you faced at the time seemed too much for you to handle. Yet, you were eventually able to figure it out and navigate your way forward.

The STOP, START and CONTINUE practice is one of the go-to frameworks I continue to use to pull myself out of a mental funk to increase my effectiveness toward handling common dilemmas. This three-step practice creates an awareness of what needs to change and inspires you to take action to manifest that change. It’s simplicity of use is one of the reasons it is so effective in producing positive change in diverse situations.

On a blank sheet of paper or index cards, write the words, STOP, START and CONTINUE.

Under the word STOP, answer the following questions

1. Which of my present thoughts, beliefs and behaviors undermine my ability to make progress in this situation?

2. What resources do I have available or need to acquire that can help me diminish the influence of thoughts, beliefs and behaviors undermining my progress in this situation?

3. What actions do I need to STOP that are undermining my progress in this situation.

Developing the habit of identifying thoughts, beliefs and behaviors creating gridlock in a circumstance is just as important as identifying the mindset and behaviors necessary to move forward. This action creates an awareness of what is not working. When you take responsibility for managing your thoughts, beliefs and behaviors, you are leading from within which is necessary for the development of your emotional intelligence skills. Daniel Goleman emphasizes in his book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, “Emotional Intelligence is the largest single predictor of success in the workplace.”

Under the word START, answer the following questions:

1. What state of mind and set of behaviors do I need to maintain in order to have the focus, positive energy, commitment and resilience necessary to achieve outcomes that will lead to my success in this situation?

2. What resources do I have available that can serve as positive reinforcements for me to maintain this state of mind and set of behaviors?

3. What actions can I START to implement today that will support my ability to maintain this state of mind and set of behaviors?

Identifying what you can do, right now, to improve a situation is a key personal leadership habit. This habit empowers you to exercise personal control and increases your sense of personal power. You cannot control every circumstance that you face in life, however, you are always in control of how you interpret and respond to every circumstance in your life. Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, a renowned psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, wrote in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance, to choose one’s way.”

Under the word CONTINUE, answer the following questions:

1. Which of my thoughts, beliefs and behaviors are working in my favor towards the achievement of my goals and objectives in this situation?

2. What evidence do I have that these particular thoughts, beliefs and behaviors are working well in this circumstance?

3. Which actions should I CONTINUE to take that will enable me to leverage my knowledge, skills, and resources and elevate my effectiveness in creating positive change in this situation?

You can take a small seed of faith and move mountains. Identifying and concentrating on what is working well in a situation helps to boost positive thoughts and emotions about yourself and your ability to handle the situation. The positive energy generated from this awareness can serve to guide you forward. Pay attention to the moments in which you are effective. Take time to figure out why. These moments provide you with clues to your instinctive patterns for success. Build on them. Conrad Hilton stated, “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

You are strong and smart. Far too many people live below their potential because they lack the self-awareness and effective personal leadership habits necessary to handle common problems in life. Taking personal responsibility for the better life experience you want will begin to ignite your inner-drive. It will help to create an awareness of the power that exist in your choices. Your choices define what you believe to be true about who you can become, what you can do and what you are worthy of experiencing. Your choices are your point of power and freedom.

You have the freedom to change how you choose to respond to any circumstance. Just because you have “always” responded to certain situations in a particular way does not mean that you are shackled to that behavior for the rest of your life. You can exercise your freedom to choose differently. At any moment, you can decide that different behavior will produce better results. The STOP, START and CONTINUE is a simple enough method that can help you begin to develop your personal leadership smarts.

Jackie Capers-Brown is an award-winning Business Leader, CEO of the Slay Your Greatness Academy and founder of The Leadership Table for Women Network. To learn more, e-mail or call (803) 772-1567.

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