Leadership Series: Can you Lead Yourself?


I came up in barbershops. And in nearly every shop there was at least one barber who operated like they've already made it, even though they barely covered their booth rent every week. These are the ones who tell walk-in’s they are booked and then go outside to smoke and talk on their cell for an hour. The ones who show up only when they have appointments and leave when they don’t. Without a boss telling them their schedule and expected output, these types just get by rather than flourish.

They have too much freedom. Freedom is the gift and the curse of the entrepreneur.

When you choose entrepreneurship you gain the freedom to create a company that you love. You are in charge of the brand and the people that work for that brand. You are the leader. But when you forego the traditional employment path, you also generally forego the support and safety net of the corporate management system (which sucks anyway in my opinion). It is all on you to figure out how you are going to lead your company. Here’s a secret: It starts with leading yourself.

If you have started your own business, chances are you work way harder than the types I discussed above. Still, as the CEO of our brands, many of us struggle without having someone to tell us what to do and how to do it. It’s not easy to lead yourself. As the boss of me, sometimes I just want to stay in bed.  So how do we learn to lead ourselves so that we can lead our team?

Embrace The Mirror

We look in the mirror before we go out in order to see ourselves as others may see us. We can’t have half an eyelash hanging off or kale salad in our teeth right? In order to be great leaders we have to do the same thing psychologically. Self assessment is key. A strong leader will search for their flaws and weaknesses and evaluate them honestly. Very few people judge themselves truthfully. We either see ourselves as better than we are at particular things or we have imposter syndrome and don’t give ourselves enough credit. The leaders who excel are those who can look in the mirror and consider our weak spots sincerely. Once we know them, we can address them.

Cheat Daily

Another part of the struggle is that we are conditioned to think we have to do it all on our own. We think that asking for help is cheating. This comes from all of our years in school. We are told that we need to have all of the right answers in order to pass the tests. And we can’t ask anyone. Collaboration is cheating. But in life, cheating is the key to success. I heard the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert Kiyosaki say once that he cheats everyday. Not in the sense of getting over or conning people, rather in asking experts for the answers. I am not a tax expert, or a hair color expert, or an investing expert. When I have questions, I collaborate with others who are.

Outsource Your Weaknesses

Once you do some self assessment you can decide whether you can train yourself to overcome your weak spots or if it makes sense to hire them out. You know what you need to do to accomplish a task. Like when we want to lose a few pounds. We know that we need to take in less calories and exercise. But how many people do it through sheer will? Most of us need a trainer. We need a system. The same goes for business. Sometimes we need a coach, or a manager, or a consultant to help us get to the next level. For instance, if every time you have a break in your schedule you head out to the casino to play poker, you may want to hire someone to keep you on track and keep your ass away from the tables.

Before we can truly lead others we have to be able to lead ourselves. This means managing our profits, processes, people, and productivity.