Ten years ago I began writing a book – the first line “my vision was vague, but it didn’t look like this.” Fast forward and the vision is no longer vague. It is specific, it ties in with my values and there are very real goals attached. In short, I learned what personal leadership is, and its profoundly positive effect.

Lacking vision is an aimless and lonely feeling

There’s a saying that used to be popular – “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Meant to be motivational, I always felt on the outside of the statement. In part because I felt it was a more masculine phrase, but also because for a long time, I didn’t feel very tough. What I did feel was aimless, directionless and lonely. That was back in my 20s and my life felt stalled. I had graduated from university, spent a remarkable year with the international group, Up With People and had returned to find that my friends were all moving towards big career goals. I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Does that sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve said it yourself, half joking. But it’s no joke, when you can’t connect the dots of your skills and interests.

My interests got a thumb down from my family. From involvement with the family business, to pursuing a stage career, to consideration of teaching or social work. I kept looking for external validation and approval and instead was met with criticism, negativity or indifference. This is not a recipe for success.

Loss of personal vision, loss of personal leadership

Personal leadership is the answer to the dilemma, but how does one develop such a thing? Is it taught or is it intrinsic? Nature or nurture? I think the answer is – all of the above. What I do know, is it can be squeezed out of you. It is possible to teach someone they have no value and won’t amount to much. An effective means to quash ideas of creating a life of purpose. Just ask anyone who has been in an abusive relationship. It also happens to children and teens who have been bullied.

In concurrent studies run in the UK and the USA, researchers tracked children who had been bullied. What they found was that in addition to developing mental health concerns such as anxiety, panic disorders and depression, they also had poorer employment and financial outcomes.

To develop a vision, start with what you enjoy

If personal leadership pivots on the ability to formulate a vision for your life, how do you overcome the idea that what you have to offer is neither special nor important? I believe you start with what you enjoy, add more of it into your life and look for how it can benefit others.

How does this help someone who is trying to build their life? To create a vision, a goal?

As a start, you become a part of something larger than yourself. Connection to others, being a member of a community and using your skill is a way to build up your own sense of value while bringing value to others. There are few things more enjoyable than doing something you enjoy and then finding ways to make it better for others.

A great vision includes benefits to others

Consider sewing. On your own, you have done a few projects, given some gifts and like to watch decor shows.When you see  a local shop is providing classes, including quilting, you are interested and sign up. Over the span of the course you get to know other women and begin to hear about other events and courses. Then you hear about a project to begin a quilting program for people in a senior’s residence. They are looking for volunteers to assist. Signing up, you not only get to know a few people from the original group better, but some amazing seniors. Every week you look forward to getting together with your community. Soon,you begin to think about some outreach projects which would bring this skill to a larger population. As you talk it up with a few others, you decide to form a committee. You find yourself busier and more connected than you had imagined could happen.

Personal leadership is a process, not a destination

Is this your job? No. Will it be? Who knows. The point however is that through the process you have come to understand that not only can you sew, you also have an ability to connect with people. The benefits are several. First, you have allowed yourself to do something you enjoy. Then you have put yourself a little further into the world. Finally, you set out a goal to help someone else and was able to achieve it. These are all a part of the process of teaching yourself to see that you can create and achieve goals.

Vision, personal power, success

One of the hardest things, is being taught you have no worth. Without it, you lose sight of your internal vision, of what life could be. That loss compounds to a loss of a sense of personal power to make change, for yourself or others. Overcoming this narrow and limiting view is very liberating; and as we know, success leads to success.

Feel stuck, don’t have a vision or are trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up? Know that you aren’t alone, and if you need help in moving your life ahead, contact me. I can help. I’ve been there.

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