The Most Important Person to Ask Questions
Socrates is quoted as saying, “The unexamined life is not worth leading.” I would add that the unexamined leader is not worth following. Leaders who never take time to ask what they are doing and why they doing it are unlikely to stay on track, lead at their best, and reach their potential. That is why we need to keep asking ourselves tough questions.
As a leader, I can allow others to ask me hard and important questions, and that’s wonderful. But even better, I can take responsibility, be proactive, and ask those questions of myself.
I have come to the realization that by asking myself tough questions, I can maintain my integrity, increase my energy, and improve my leadership capacity. That’s why I ask myself questions every day. My hope is that you’ll be inspired to ask yourself questions every day so that you keep yourself on track and striving to reach your potential.
My first question to myself:
Am I Investing In Myself?
This Is A Question of Personal Growth
The most important investment you and I will ever make is in ourselves. That investment will determine the return that we get out of life. Jim Rohn’s mentor John Earl Shoaff said to him, “Jim, if you want to be wealthy and happy, learn this lesson well: learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Jim did learn that lesson well. As he once pointed out, “The book you don’t read can’t help you; the seminar you won’t attend can’t change your life. The business gets better when you get better. Never wish it were easier, wish you were better.”
Since 1974 I have been intentionally investing in myself, and for nearly as long I have been encouraging others to do likewise. Some people do; others don’t. Why is that? I believe three main factors come into play. These will determine if or how you will invest in yourself:
1. Your Self-Image: How You See Yourself
How do you feel about yourself as a person? Are you positive? Are you negative? On a scale of one to ten, what number would you use to describe how you feel about yourself? Take a moment and rate yourself.
Whatever number you picked to describe your self-image also describes your willingness to invest in yourself. For example, if you rated your self-image at a five, you will be willing to invest in yourself up to a five level, but not more. That’s why people with low self-images do not make great investments in themselves. It’s not what you are that keeps you from investing in yourself; it’s what you think you are—or are not. You will never be able to bet on yourself unless you believe in yourself.
2. Your Dream: How You See Your Future
When I sat down to write Put Your Dream to the Test, my desire was to help people make great strides toward their dreams. What I didn’t realize until the book had been written and I starting speaking about it was that many people don’t have a dream. I was shocked. My life has been filled with hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Because of that, I assumed that everyone had at least one dream. I was wrong. Why does that matter? Because the size of your dream determines the size of your investment. If your dream is large, you will invest in yourself to achieve it. If you have no dream, you may not invest in yourself at all.
3. Your Friends: How Others See You
Motivational speaker Joe Larson once said, “My friends didn’t believe I could become a successful speaker, so I did something about it. I went out and found some new friends.” That may sound harsh, but that is what’s needed for anyone who is surrounded by people who don’t believe in them.
People need others to help them stay inspired and growing. Missionary doctor Albert Schweitzer asserted, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” If you have friends who light your inner fire, you are very fortunate; they will make you want to keep investing in yourself and growing. If you don’t, find some, because nothing is more important for your potential as a leader than your personal daily growth.
This is one of the seven questions I ask myself as a leader every day. If you desire to lead at your best, you need to know what questions to ask yourself.
Next time, I’ll share one of the important questions that I regularly ask members of my team.