Leadership is founded on the belief that you can only become a leader after developing your character – that is, after building integrity, honesty, and commitment. The way to develop these attributes is through self-knowledge. You can't improve what you don't understand.
The first steps on the road to self-knowledge involve asking ourselves tough questions. For example; Is there an overriding purpose in my life, a purpose that is vivid and precise, a purpose I am committed to, a purpose that makes sense in everything I do?
It is sometimes helpful to recall the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: "What is my job on the planet? What it is that needs doing, that I know something about, that probably won't happen unless I take responsibility for it?"
We can only identify this purpose by taking a hard look at ourselves and giving ourselves the quiet time necessary to seek the answers. But answering the question of purpose begs other important questions. For example; Am I going to allow my life to be controlled by the crush of daily activities, or will I live my life in accordance with my purpose? Do day-to-day urgencies always have to shove higher-order concerns to the side? Always?
Sometimes a purpose and a career are incompatible, and something has to give (I don't think one could be both a cop and a bank robber for very long). But sometimes a particular purpose can be squared with a particular career. It may take nothing more than re-examining your career, asking some questions, and discovering a purpose you have overlooked in the past.
Here are three steps you can take on the road to self-knowledge:
Get to Know Yourself: You can't improve upon something you don't understand. The more questions you ask yourself, the better you'll know yourself.
Learn from Failure: Failure can bring some of the toughest questions of all. If you answer them fully and honestly, you may learn more from failure than you do from success.
Don't Run for the sake of Running: Make sure you're headed somewhere. If you're going all out without a clear destination in mind, slow down and ask some more questions.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.