Personal mastery: Leading in trying times

There is no doubt about it – these are trying times for people in leadership.  Consumers holding fire on spending, businesses failing, markets changing, technology roaring – how do you meet these challenges with just the right approach?  And how do you make the right decisions and achieve the right results, yet remain completely at one with yourself?

We call this, learning to lead from a Still Centre.  Another name for it might be developing Personal Mastery.  It means having mastery over yourself in every situation so you can truly be the best of yourself no matter what is going on around you.  “Throw what you like at me – you won’t knock me off course!!”

Developing personal mastery has become crucial if we are to be and remain truly calm and decisive in the face of whatever challenges face us.  Just imagine the situation – you pick up the phone to hear that a crisis has broken out, you take a moment to go within and centre yourself and then, completely free of panic or fear, you respond, thinking creatively and proactively, and come up with a great set of actions to deal with the situation.  As you act, you communicate to the people around you that you are in charge, that they can count on you and that you will lead them through.  The consequence – no else one panics either, people act thoughtfully and powerfully, the right decision gets made and implemented and the team emerges more together and more capable than before.

You are probably thinking that, whilst this is highly desirable, it’s never going to happen.  But why shouldn’t it?  Learning to lead from a still centre and developing personal mastery are within the grasp of everyone.  Generally, it isn’t something that we are born with although some individuals do seem to have more of it than others – it is something that can be taught, learnt and practised.

Will it be easy?  No, of course not!  The long-standing habits built upon our ancient fears are very strong!  Is it possible – absolutely!!  Is it worth it – oh boy, is it worth it, yes, yes, yes!!!

So how do you begin to find a still centre and develop personal mastery?  Here’s an activity to get you identify your main weaknesses:

  1. Begin with a self-evaluation – sitting quietly on your own, identify three stressful, difficult situations you have faced recently and then, taking three sheets of A4, write a one line title for each event at the top of each sheet of paper.  Then divide the page in half with a line down the middle.
  2. Now, on the left hand side, describe how you responded to each – write it like a script.
  3. Then, write an alternative script for how you would like to have responded on the right hand side.
  4. Then overlook the three situations and, on a fresh sheet of paper, see if you can identify the main differences between how you would like to respond and how you did respond.  Now, let’s call the difference the problem statement.  Or, better still, the personal mastery development need.

Attaining the highest standards in our leadership, whilst remaining true to our deepest values is, in these challenging times, something that requires sustained effort.  It demands a commitment to improving our self-knowledge, and preparedness to confront the patterns of our behaviour that continue to get in the way of us being fully-effective and achieving our leadership potential.

Many leaders consider the use of a coach or guide. It’s a path well worth considering but, to help you get started, please send an email with your problem statement (or your development need) and we will offer you a thought on what to do next on the journey to personal mastery.

We can’t wait to hear from you.


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