I often tell leaders it's important to check yourself out. You may be asking, “What on earth does checking yourself out have to do with effective leadership?” Fair question. If, by checking yourself out, we’re talking about sneaking in an admiring glance as you walk by a mirror or a storefront window, the answer is not much.
If, on the other hand, we’re talking about the modern day version of what Socrates meant when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” then the answer is a lot.
I’d make the case that mindful leaders spend regular time checking themselves out. They question their assumptions. They check their motives. They figure out what pushes their buttons.
Interested in spending some time checking yourself out? Here’s a simple way to get started.
Just about everyone has topics, situations or people that push their buttons. Those are external factors that are always going to exist. The big opportunity is to work on your internal response to those external factors. As I wrote in a post a few years ago calledQuestions for Conscious Leaders, the opportunity is summed up by the great leadership coach, Tim Gallwey, in the simple equation:
P = p – i
where P is your performance, p is your potential and i is the interference.
If it wasn’t for the interference your performance would always equal your potential. But, as we know, there is always going to be external interference that is beyond your individual control. You do, however, have the opportunity to control your internal interference by regulating your response to the external interference.
You’ll have a much better chance of doing that if you understand what your internal interference looks like and when it comes up. Here, then, are three questions you use to check yourself out on your internal interference:
- What words describe your most common versions of interference?
- When do you notice the interference?
- What happens when it becomes too loud?
What’s your experience with the Socratic version of checking yourself out? What do you pay attention to? What questions do you ask yourself on a regular basis to approach your leadership role in a mindful way?