Leading well begins with self. Finishing well in leadership begins by growing personally today in how you lead you in the areas that no one can see. So here are 21 key questions you can ask yourself in order to assess where you may need to grow the most.

Keep in mind that your answers to these questions aren’t meant to be shared with anyone except potentially your personal mentor.

21 Self-Leadership Questions

  1. How do I deal with negative people?
  2. How much self-control do I have with things that I know are bad for me, but tend to indulge in?
  3. Who am I accountable to when no one is watching?*
  4. How do I respond to situations that I have no control over?
  5. How do I respond when plans change or plans get canceled without my say so?
  6. How do I deal with stressful situations? Do I tend to worry a lot? What else do I do?
  7. How do I respond to situations that force me to get out of my comfort zone?
  8. How do I deal with setbacks?
  9. How do I deal with being misperceived or misunderstood?*
  10. How well do I follow through on what I promise?
  11. How do I deal with emotional pain?*
  12. How do I respond when I make a mistake or when I fail at something?
  13. How do I deal with other people’s mistakes and unpleasant behavior?
  14. How do I deal with uncertainty, the unknown or a future event that I have no control over?
  15. How do I deal with people who have hurt me in the past?
  16. How do I take care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
  17. How do I spend my free time?*
  18. How do I deal with the violence, hate, and suffering in the world?
  19. How do I recharge, rejuvenate, and replenish my energy?
  20. How fulfilling is my everyday life?
  21. How am I investing in myself physically, mentally and emotionally?

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

Growth is a leaders fountain of youth. Your responsibility is to pursue growth as much as you pursue your purpose. The key, however, is knowing when and where growth is most needed. Use these questions to help you assess and target your energy in a specific area to grow in.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email so you’ll never miss a post. In the comments below share about what question challenged you the most and which one was the most motivating!

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When I was in college I read the book Great Leaders Grow by Kenneth H Blanchard for the first time.  It was the first time in my life that I can remember feeling overwhelmingly inspired to become a great leader. I knew that in many of the circles that I found myself in, that I often emerged as the leader. This was exciting to me, but I had no idea how it happened or even how to navigate it well. There was no hope (or intention for that matter) of retaining my place as a leader in any place I earned the role.

Then came Kenneth H Blanchard. In a very simple way, he shares about leadership longevity and how to achieve it. I won’t quote you the whole book, but there was a quote that reshaped my approach to leadership and legacy building. In the book, Mr. Blanchard wrote that “Growth is a leaders fountain of youth”. This wasn’t new information to me. It was just stated in a way that stuck!

“Growth is a leaders fountain of youth.” – Kenneth H Blanchard

The Cost of Coffee

As leaders, whether of ourselves or others, we have a responsibility to stay relevant. It is our job to be informed about how times are changing and learn what needs to change with it and stay ahead of it. This means we need to find a consistent and hopefully cheap way to grow! Now we can look into costly classes, impersonal podcasts, or even building a library of leadership books we may find the time to read eventually. None of these are bad, but rarely do they work out to be consistent or cost effective long term.

“As leaders, it is our job to stay informed about how times are changing and learn what needs to change with it and stay ahead of it.”

Starbucks Coffee

This is where we get to the cost of a cup of coffee. A decent cup of coffee may cost you about $3.00 depending on where you go. I know that a freshly brewed Venti at Starbucks is currently about $2.45. Now you and I are both aware there are people in our lives that we can learn from. People who are either exactly where we want to be or heading in the same direction and just happen to be a little ahead of us. Don’t ignore those people!

I’ve found that cheapest and most consistent growing experiences available to us is a cup of coffee with someone more experienced than us. Someone who doesn’t mind allowing us to learn from their experience so that we can go further, faster. A few minutes over a cup of coffee could have saved me thousands of dollars in a bad business move as an artist last year, but I chose to learn the hard way. Never again!

“I’ve found that the cheapest, and most consistent way to keep growing is getting a cup of coffee with someone who will let you learn from their experiences, good or bad.”

Don’t get me wrong, I listen to leadership podcasts, audiobooks, read physical books and more. However, there’s value to being able to ask situation-specific questions and get real-life experience answers. Also, it’s important to be able to get objective feedback on a risky decision from someone who knows where you want to go and how to help you get there.

“Growing is sometimes as simple as getting a better handle on an area of life that seems to always get the best of you.”

I must confess that I’m not actually a “coffee” kind of guy, but I really enjoy a hot cup of tea. So this is my suggestion, take the initiative to grab someone you know you can grow from and grab a cup of coffee (or tea) together and ask them the tough questions. Get a better insight on different aspects of life. Work, play, relationships. Prepare specific questions that are tied to the areas you’re determined to grow in and don’t forget, pay for their coffee! It’s the least we can do for the time their giving to us.

So if you can’t afford to attend the next John Maxwell Conference, or personally meet with Andy Stanley then let this be another option for you or in addition to those.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

If growth is a leaders fountain of youth, then we need to make sure we secure an inexpensive and consistent means of continual growth. Paying for one or two cups of coffee a month for someone we can learn and grow from is by far one of the most accessible and cheap methods to keep growing today.

  1. Grab yourself a Joe (or Pete, or Sarah, or whatever the person’s name is) and ask them to commit to meeting with you once (or twice) a month for at least 3 months.
  2. Have questions ready for them and be prepared to learn.
  3. Finally, check back here after the three months and let me know how it went!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email so you’ll never miss a post. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

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Mentors are NOT one size fits all.

This something I learned early as an ambitious young leader. I was ALWAYS looking (and still am) for who I could learn from next. This, by the way, is a good trait to have. However, I was never taught that not everyone who happens to know more than me in my field of work, or an area of life that I wanted to grow in, was the right mentor for me. As a result of my ignorance in this I had a few unfortunate coffee dates with potential mentors where we both walked away probably thinking, “Let’s NEVER do that again!” While there were others that I happened upon that was the perfect fit!

“Mentors are NOT one size fits all.”

Nevertheless, mentorship is a significant part of our growth as leaders and it should be a consistent part as well. I eventually realized that some intentionality should go into selecting the people we’re asking to invest time and knowledge in us. We all need a tool or filter for how to successfully choose a mentor that we can learn from. While we can be informally mentored throughout our lives, formal mentorship takes intentionality.

“Nevertheless, mentorship is a significant part of our growth as leaders and it should be a consistent part as well.”

My foundational filter for selecting a mentor is two-fold. First, I look for someone who is living a principle that I want to learn. Whether it’s for becoming a better husband, a better son, a better employee or another area of life. If they’re living it out that’s my first ✓. The second thing I look for if I am unable to find someone who is already where I want to go is someone who is headed in the same direction but just ahead of me. That’s the second ✓. Then to those two, I add the following three filters.

1 KNOW HOW YOU LEARN BEST

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The first thing we have to ask is, “How do I learn best?” This question is key. How we learn is essentially the container that we’ll use to help us hold on to the knowledge that our mentor passes on. Are you a hands-on learner? Are you visual? Are you an auditory learner? Knowing the answer to this question will help us walk away from that mentorship with the most growth possible. It will help you and your mentor determine how to best navigate the teaching, coaching and learning experience.

Tip: An easy indicator of whether or not you know the answer is to think about how often you’ve wondered to yourself about why you learn really well sometimes but not all the time. If you think about that a lot, chances are you don’t yet know how you best learn and need to spend time figuring that out.

2 KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO LEARN

A common mistake people often make when entering into mentorship is thinking that they’re going to somehow learn everything from the mentor. This is unrealistic. The mentor will not be able to do that nor will we be able to learn it all. especially in short-term mentoring relationships. I learned that identifying a specific an item that I’d like to walk away with is far more successful.

For example, if you’re a Christian and you admire the spiritual walk of a more mature believer. Instead of trying to learn how to be as spiritual as they are. Try narrowing your focus to learning how to find consistency in your walk with God.

Here’s another example, if you’re new on the job with lots to learn, take few minutes to identify the area you feel the most pressure to deliver on. Identify a core item you can learn and use to improve that specific area on the job. After you’ve done this filtering, then go find a mentor to guide your learning that ONE thing. If you learn other things great!

3 KNOW THE TIME YOU NEED

This third and final filter will likely be one of the most practical tools for both you and your mentor DURING your mentorship. Before we identify a mentor to help us learn, we need to get a clear idea of just how long it may take you to learn it. A couple of hours? Days? Maybe months? My point is that Formal Mentorship should never have an indefinite timeline. That can turn into a dreadful thing for both parties. Whenever we’re entering into a mentoring relationship we should always establish a clear timeline.

If you’re both able to commit to an hour meeting once a month and you know you’ll need at least 3 hours to fully learn the idea or topic well, ask for four meetings. The fourth will reduce the pressure on the first three and allow room for flexibility.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

Since mentorship is such an integral part of continuing to develop as a leader, we should have a tool or filter for how to successfully choose a mentor for ourselves. The following three are my filters.

  1. Know how you learn best
  2. Know what you want to learn
  3. Know the time you need

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

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