LEADERSHIP AND SELF-DEVELOPMENT: THE POWER OF POSITIONING

Self-Development and Positioning

Leading oneself and the quest for self-development is often a daunting task for most of us. It is fairly difficult to change your perception and the way you view the world. In a previous post, I had alluded to the power of perception and the strategies you could use to change the way you view yourself and others. Indeed, perception is the bedrock of leadership and it really matters that you maintain a good self-image before you attempt to lead others. Not only did I emphasize this point in that specific post, but I had also touched a little bit on the subject in my final conclusion of the book, The Double Win, by Denis Waitley. So, it would be safe for you to think of this as a supplementary post to the blog posts I have just mentioned. We are now moving away from an internal self-image to the application of a very important principle in self-development: Positioning.

Let’s take an Imaginary trip

Imagine if God, assuming that you believe in God, had allowed you to choose what type of family you would like to be born into. Let’s further imagine that he allowed you to choose the color of your skin, your gender, your country, and perhaps the financial status of your family. I can imagine that most of us would probably request a similar thing. We would say I would like to be born as a boy into a white American family with lots of wealth or perhaps as the son of Queen Elizabeth. Now, before you start throwing rocks at me, hold your horses. You see, whether we like to admit it or not, life on earth is tougher for some people than others. For example, women, black people, and other minorities, generally find it tougher to get respect. This is all because of our shared biased history. A lot of countries in Africa find it hard to grasp the concept of a female president and it’s really a painful sight to see. Now, I understand that not all of these assumptions can ring true to everyone because we have different preferences. But given the human tendency to avoid pain and seek pleasure, most of us would likely choose a family similar to what I’ve mentioned.

Anyway, what does this all have to do with self-development? Well, positioning is very important in attaining whatever goal you set your mind to achieve. But it’s also important that you are realistic about how you set your goals. You need to sit down and ask yourself, ‘what is my position in life and what exactly do I have?’ Knowing your limitations is very important. I mean here is a guy from a poor family in a third world country who thinks he will become a billionaire at age 30. What is he thinking? He says it’s because Warren Buffet became a millionaire at 30. I hate to sound pessimistic but chances are that he’s not going to achieve that goal. This is for the simple reason that the circumstances and positioning of life are different. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that some poor people from third world countries cannot become millionaires or billionaires at age 30, such people do in fact exist, but they are the exception and not the rule.

Aliko Dangote

According to Forbes, the Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote, is Africa’s richest man. I took a keen interest in finding out how he came to reach that position. His story is an interesting one. I found out that he started his business from a loan he got from his uncle. Today, this business has grown to be a multi-national conglomerate which generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. I often joke to myself that if I had a rich uncle to whom I could borrow those hefty sums of money, I also could’ve been like the Nigerian Business magnate.

Aliko Dangote was well-positioned to become the man that he is today. I believe there’s still hope for most of us in Africa who may not have been so lucky to believe in our ambitions. I have seen so many people beat themselves over the goals that they did not achieve when they were younger. They often say, “I wish I could have invested in stocks when I was 25, or I wish could have saved more money for the kids.” Such regret hits the soul with the force of a sledgehammer. It’s really heart-breaking and to make matters worse, there’s actually a quote which emphasizes this horror of life: “A man who views the world the same way at age 40 as he did when he was 20, has wasted 20 years of his life.” The inescapable fact is that people change but that doesn’t need to be a source of regret. We just need to learn a little bit more about the power of positioning.

Being realistic is not always a bad thing

When a person is realistic about his expectations and in setting his goals, seeing the importance of positioning becomes fairly easy. If you are from a third world country and a poor family, like me, you have to learn how to put yourself in a position where the possibility of failure is reduced. The ancient Chinese general, Sun Tzu once said that “Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment of defeating the enemy.”

Sun Tzu, arguably the greatest military strategist to ever have lived

THE DOUBLE WIN BY DENIS WAITLEY PART 3: LESSONS ON LEADERSHIP AND SELF- DEVELOPMENT

This is my final analysis of the book, The Double Win, by Denis Waitley. In this last lesson on leadership, we going to focus on what the author calls the ‘in-built Thermostat’ that every person has. He took his readers off a little into the realm of psychology on this one but his lessons were nonetheless valid. His main point was that every human being today has a self-image that is deeply embedded into the subconscious mind. The title of Chapter 4 of the book is the Win-Lose Child of your Past. In this chapter, he had talked about the power that modern television has on our minds. To quote him he said, “To live the Double Win in a Win-Lose environment, we need to realize that T.V. programming is dictated by win-lose individuals who are interested in immediate profit gratification than in the side effects of their products.”

So then, the question becomes, should you stop watching T.V. if you want to become a Double Winner?  Not necessarily.

The main point here is that it would be difficult for you to change your self-image if you are still being stimulated by the Win-Lose philosophy whenever you pick up the remote. I, personally, have undergone a major drift from being a T.V. fanatic to being one of its toughest critics. To be utterly blunt, I think most of the stuff that is on T.V. and cable nowadays is poison.  My reasoning for this is that in a world where minding your own business should be a priority if you are going to find any sense of self-worth, modern television makes that goal almost impossible to achieve. So, ultimately and subconsciously, we learn the habits of those that represent less than 10% of the general population. Denis Waitley actually said that “we learn by observation, imitation and, repetition. We seize our role models, observe their actions, imitate, then become what we see, hear, read, feel and touch.” So, imagine the tragedy of a person who is born into a poor family in a third world country imitating Jay-z or Beyoncé.

You have no idea how many girls want to be like her.

Obviously, that would engender a Win-Lose philosophy right from the start because he sees that he must trample on whoever is in his way to look like his role model. Regardless of your age or cultural background, there’s always an inclination to please the crowd that is around you. That’s what Denis Waitley called the “Inner child of your past”. To a large extent, who are you are today has been largely influenced by factors such as how you were raised, T.V. cultural indoctrination and perhaps how your teachers in grade school treated you. To illustrate this point, Denis Waitley tells a story of a married couple: Robert had been married to Pauline and had noticed that whenever she was preparing a piece of ham for him, she would always cut off both ends. So, he asked her why she always did that and she responded by saying that was the way her mother prepared it. So, on a visit to the mother’s place, he asked Pauline’s mother as to why she always cut off both ends of the ham when preparing the meal and she replied that ‘that was the way that my mother used to do it.’ Determined to bring a solution to the mystery, Robert asked Pauline’s grandmother about it and she replied, ‘I cut it that way because my baking dish is too small.’ So, we can clearly see here how a habit was passed down from one generation to another through observation, imitation and, repetition. This all comes in to contribute to what makes your self-image…

The self-image was defined by Denis Waitley as the ‘total picture of who we think we are.’

Self-Image: It’s all up to you

Until recently, I have been very much unaware of how insecure I have been over the years. It’s only when I took an introspective analysis of my actions that I realized that I had a very poor self-image. Even today, I feel my gut wrench whenever somebody compliments my intelligence or says that I have done a good job. But I was not always like this; my insecurities were a monster born from years and years of being a follower of the win-lose philosophy. In retrospect, I think I was arrogant and thought I knew everything. When push came to shove and my abilities were tested, ‘I had realized that I was not as good as I thought I was compared to such and such a person.’ This led to an inner turmoil that culminated with me literally begging and crying for people not to leave me.

So, I am a person who understands the pain of knowing that your best is not good enough. And in this Win-Lose world, chances are that you will feel the same way I felt. I am a work-in-progress, and I should say that in applying the principles in this book, I have felt my self-confidence boosted. This I attribute to the change I’ve had in my self-image and the way I think of myself before anybody else tags me in a certain group.

Abel Chungu, the very talented Zambian Gospel singer once tweeted, “If you have a problem with me, call me so that we can solve it. If you don’t have my number, then you don’t know me well enough to have a problem with me.”

I think there was a subtle message in that tweet about the self-image. You are not what people think you are. Actually, you are what you think of yourself to be. I always tell myself whenever I am in a crisis that, ‘You are stronger than you think you are’ and often, these simple words become a source of great strength. The problem is that most of us don’t believe ourselves whenever we say we are good enough. The major reason why this is so hard to believe is that it causes an internal conflict. Here is a guy who for years has been trained to think of himself as mediocre. The moment you tell him that he can do more than he does, it would spark a war of contradiction. Years and years of cultural indoctrination would fight these assumptions right off the start and it only gets worse when you get older. So, my recommendation is that you should work on your self-image and be very careful about how you talk to yourself. A part of self-respect, which helps create a good self-image, is knowing what not to say to yourself. Never judge your abilities based on other people’s words or actions.

In conclusion, every one of us should ensure to create a good self-image. An image distinct from what people or society says or feels about us. I would like to reiterate my recommendation for the readers of this post to read the Double Win by Denis Waitley. As a Vigilante Scholar, I had learned a great deal about myself and self-development just from analyzing the texts of this book. There’s a lot more that I could speak on this but save for time, I would rather leave it to you to judge. I am confident that you would reach the same conclusion I reached and indeed, find the information helpful in your life and your quest for Leadership and Self-Development.

Part 2 of Perception: The Bedrock of Leadership

In one of my previous posts, I had alluded to the importance of perception. So, in this one, we are going to take a look at some of the strategies that someone can take to change that. In order for this to happen, it’s important that you understand attitude; This is perhaps as important as any other single factor.

Attitude usually comes about as a result of cultural indoctrination and expectations. This indoctrination, often, creates a picture of oneself in what psychologists call, ‘the subconscious mind’. One of the strategies that I recommend in changing perception is to build a proper self-image. Ideally, this sounds simple but it is extremely hard to do in practice. Most of the self- help books out there would recommend repeating some mantra of some sort and keep your fingers crossed in the high hopes that you would change the way you think. However, this more than likely never works in real life. So, the question is why?

It’s because you can’t fool or deceive yourself into being something you are not. Human Beings are creatures of habit, so in order for you to effect change, habits must be formed through a repetitive process of decisions.

One of the habits that I recommend is what I call ‘Mental Imaging’. This means that you should face the challenge head on and literally take an offensive front through consistent action i.e.you should use constant reaffirmation backed up by actionable results.

For it is one thing to commit to changing your in-built perception through habits and another to repeat some magical words in the hopes that your life will change. Habituation is the key to ensure that your perceptions change. There’s actually an ancient secret developed by the Romans which holds that if you do something consistently for 21 days, then it would automatically become a habit. This ancient secret teaches that in order for you to create a habit, there has to be consistency.

So, in application to our issue here, it is cardinal that you apply the habit consistently. If you cannot do that, then there’s no doubt that your subconscious self will not believe you. Actually, all of the actions that we make each and every single day are subject to authentication by our subconscious. In other words, to some extent, the origin of all our actions are influenced to a high degree by the subconscious mind. So, if you consistently act in a way that contradicts your subconscious, it will have no choice but to comply with the new pattern of actions taking place. I can tell you my personal experience as an example. Prior to October 2016, I pretty much hated anything to do with books and reading. I could hardly sit in front of a book for more than two hours. My reasoning at the time was based on what a friend of mine told me that “it’s scientifically been proven that a person cannot study for more than three straight.” Without even checking the authenticity of this assumption, I just naturally accepted it and gave up studying soon as it ticked three hours. So, one day I decided to test the assumption by daring myself to study from 10 a.m. in the morning to 7 p.m., no matter the consequences. And guess what? I had managed to complete the task, with extreme difficulty I should say, but with a grin on my face. At that very point, I took the first step in changing my subconscious image.

So, the results would be the same for you as they were for me. You only need to make sure that’s what you want and you are willing to put in the effort. There are no shortcuts.

In conclusion, perception can be changed but it’s not easy because you are literally going against everything you have been taught and thought you knew. But however, with the right mentality and attitude, changing perception is invariably simple if you are willing to dare yourself in doing what you are not normally accustomed to.