“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

– John Quincy Adams

When was the last time you were a leader?

When have you empowered someone to accomplish a personal goal?

When have you helped a group band together to realize a long-term objective?

How Leaders Are Made

Leadership is often associated with the work environment. However, there are countless examples of leadership in the home, school, and community. Each one of those situations brings a unique perspective that increases your leadership ability and creates value for yourself and those you serve.

I love the Toastmasters tagline that says, “Where Leaders Are Made”. Much of that “making” as a leader is because of our experiences.

That prompts the question, “How are leaders made?”

There are many facets of leadership, but the area I will focus on today is experience. Experiences shape and define us as leaders…but only if we let them.

Our Experiences Can Shape Us

About a year ago, I was sitting in a meeting when all of a sudden the left side of my face started to get numb. Then my left arm started to go numb and felt like I had pins and needles in my arm. 

My husband was seated next to me, so I quietly whispered to him what was happening. Then we both started searching on Google what the problem might be.

Was I having a stroke?

Was I about to have a heart attack?

Thankfully we concluded it was neither one of those situations. We went home immediately after the meeting, and I ate a snack and drank some water and Gatorade. The problem turned out to be dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. I felt fine after that.

While I was relieved that the situation was not worse, the thought came into my mind that I need to delve into the research and more clearly understand how and why it happened, and how I can either prevent it or quickly address the issue in the future.

Your Decisions Shape Your Destiny

Life and business strategist Tony Robbins talks about three of the most important decisions you make every moment of your life, and how those decisions shape your destiny.

Those three decisions are:

  • What are you going to focus on?
  • What does it mean?
  • What are you going to do because of it?

In the context of my numbness situation, 

  • I was focused on what was happening to me physically, and what I could do to rectify that situation.
  • It meant I had to research dehydration, electrolyte balance, and other topics.
  • The most profound part of the situation, however, came as I decided what I was going to do because of it.

Leaders Teach With Authenticity

At first I was hesitant to continue as a coach. 

Coaches are supposed to be invincible, right?

NO – Coaches are human.

As leaders, coaches have experiences every day of their life.

Those experiences do not always have to be dramatic, but we can always learn from them.

Our experiences as leaders allow us to teach with authenticity, compassion, and motivation. As leaders, we can build people up each day to work toward their full potential.

Leadership Changes You

Leadership is an evolving principle. 

I’m not the same leader today that I was 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even a year ago. I’m always changing. 

What’s important to realize is that you are always changing BECAUSE of your experiences. 

Your experiences aren’t meant to pull you down, but to lift you up to make you a better leader than if you simply lived in a silo where nothing ever happened to you.

I realized that my situation was not an isolated incident that’s uniquely mine. It was something that I could learn from and help others to learn from. I was not only solving a short-term situation, but increasing my ability to help others as a health coach.

Becoming a Better Leader

Consider your life as a leader in your family, in your work, and in other areas of your life. Consider Tony Robbins’ three decisions:

  • What are you going to focus on?
  • What does it mean?
  • What are you going to do because of it?

I challenge you to consider how your experiences shape you as a leader, and how you can be an even better leader because of those experiences.