Oct 4, 2023
The Art of Self-Leadership: 5 Ways Great Leaders Motivate Themselves to Action

Explore the transformative journey of self-leadership with our comprehensive guide. Discover the art of motivating oneself to action through a growth mindset, clear goals, self-reflection, self-care, and positivity. Uncover inspiring quotes and practical strategies that empower leaders to not only guide others but also inspire themselves. Elevate your leadership potential and embrace the art of self-leadership today.”


The art of Self-leadership

In the exciting world of leadership, the role of self-leadership emerges as a beacon guiding great leaders through the dynamic challenges of their roles. The ability to motivate oneself is not just a trait; it’s an art, a finely crafted skill that separates remarkable leaders from the ordinary.


In this article, we will delve deep into the art of self-leadership, dissecting the strategies, mindset, and practices that empower exceptional leaders to inspire not only their teams but also themselves.


Cultivating a Growth Mindset: The Foundation of Self-Leadership

The art of Self-leadership

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt

A growth mindset forms the bedrock upon which self-leadership stands. Leaders who embrace the concept that abilities and intelligence can be developed with dedication and hard work are primed to motivate themselves towards action.


Challenges are not viewed as insurmountable obstacles but as opportunities for growth. The essence lies in understanding that learning never stops; it’s a continuous journey of improvement.


Key Practices:

Embrace Challenges: Instead of shying away from challenges, view them as gateways to personal evolution. The willingness to confront challenges head-on transforms obstacles into stepping stones.

Learn from Failures: Failures are not setbacks; they are lessons in disguise. Exceptional leaders analyze their failures objectively, extracting valuable insights that shape their future endeavors.

Seek Feedback: Constructive criticism is the secret ingredient of growth. Leaders actively seek feedback, appreciating it as a tool for refinement and self-awareness.

Cultivate Curiosity: A curious mind is an open mind. Leaders remain perpetually curious, always asking questions, always seeking to understand, and in this curiosity, they find the fuel for their growth.


 Self-leadership: Setting Clear Personal Goals

The art of Self-leadership

“A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.” – Bruce Lee

The canvas of self-leadership is painted with clear, compelling personal goals.

These goals are not mere aspirations; they are destinations with a detailed roadmap.


Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals crystallizes intentions, turning abstract dreams into tangible targets. Goals provide direction, igniting the inner drive to move forward and accomplish.


Key Practices:

Define SMART Goals: Make it your goals Specific, measurable, achievable,  relevant and time-bound.


Examples of SMART GOALS

Let’s dive into some examples of how a self-motivated leader can set SMART goals:

Example 1: Professional Development


General Goal: Enhance Leadership Skills


SMART Goal: Enroll in a Leadership Training Program within the next three months to improve team management and communication skills, as evidenced by successfully implementing at least two new communication strategies within the team in the next six months.


Specific: Attend a recognized Leadership Training Program.

Measurable: Implement two new communication strategies within the team.

Achievable: Research and choose a suitable program; allocate time and resources for the training.

Relevant: Relevant to the leader’s role and contributes to better team management.

Time-bound: Complete the training within three months and implement strategies within the following six months.


Example 2: Health and Wellness


General Goal: Improve Physical Fitness


SMART GoalRun a Half Marathon in Six Months

Specific:  Participate in a specific event, the half marathon.

Measurable: Finish the half marathon within a specific time frame.

Achievable: Start with a training program suited to current fitness levels and gradually increase intensity.

Relevant:  Relevant to the leader’s goal of improving physical fitness and endurance.

Time-bound: Complete the half marathon in six months, adhering to the race schedule and training plan.


Example 3: Team Productivity


General Goal: Increase Team Productivity

SMART Goal:  Implement a New Project Management Software in the Next Two Months, Resulting in  15% Increase in Project Completion Rates within Six Months.

Specific: Introduce a specific project management software.

Measurable: Track project completion rates before and after the software implementation.

Achievable: Research and select a suitable software; provide training to the team.

Relevant: Relevant to improving team productivity and project management efficiency.

Time-bound: Implement the software within two months and assess the progress within the following six months.


Example 4: Personal Development

General Goal: Enhance Public Speaking Skills


SMART Goal: Speak at Three Industry-related Events within the Next Year, Receiving Positive Feedback from the Audience in at Least Two Events.

Specific: Speak at industry-related events on specific topics.

Measurable:  Positive feedback from the audience and invitations to speak at subsequent events.

Achievable:  Prepare engaging presentations, practice public speaking regularly, and seek mentorship if needed.

Relevant: Relevant to personal and professional growth, enhancing public speaking skills.

Time-bound:  Speak at three events within the next year and gather feedback from the audience.


By setting SMART goals, a self-motivated leader can establish clear objectives, measure progress, stay focused, and celebrate achievements. These examples illustrate how SMART goals can be applied across various aspects of personal and professional development, ensuring effective goal-setting and successful outcomes.

Each goal becomes a stair-step to the next, ensuring progress is steady and measurable.

Visualize Success: Visualization is a powerful tool. Leaders create mental images of their success, experiencing it in their minds before it materializes.


This mental rehearsal enhances motivation, propelling them towards their objectives.


Stay Flexible:  Rigidity can be the enemy of progress. Goals provide direction, but the path may change due to unforeseen circumstances. Leaders remain flexible, adapting their strategies while staying true to their objectives.


Self-leadership and  Self-Reflection: The Mirror of Personal Growth

The art of Self-leadership

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius


The mirror of self-reflection reflects the essence of self-leadership. Leaders engage in this practice not as an occasional glance but as a deliberate, deep gaze into their own souls.


It’s an exploration of their beliefs, values, behaviors, and, most importantly, their purpose. In self-reflection, they discover their strengths, weaknesses, and the paths to personal development.


Key Practices:

Regular Journaling: Journaling is a voyage into one’s innermost thoughts. Leaders maintain a journal, pouring their musings, reflections, and lessons learned onto its pages. The act of writing clarifies emotions and facilitates deeper understanding.

Evaluate Core Values: Values are the guiding stars of a leader’s journey. Self-reflection involves evaluating whether one’s actions align with their core values. Authenticity and integrity are nurtured when choices mirror these values.

Seek Mentorship: External perspectives offer profound insights. Leaders engage in mentorship, discussing their reflections with mentors or coaches who provide objective viewpoints. The wisdom gained through these interactions shapes their growth.


Self-leadership and Self-Care: Nurturing the Leader Within

The art of Self-leadership

Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn

Self-leadership extends beyond mental faculties; it encompasses physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Exceptional leaders prioritize self-care, understanding that a healthy, balanced life is not a luxury but a necessity. Rest, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and nurturing relationships are not indulgences; they are investments in leadership sustainability.


Key Practices:

Establish Boundaries: The boundary between work and personal life is sacrosanct. Leaders create clear boundaries, allowing time for relaxation, hobbies, and quality moments with loved ones.


A healthy work-life balance rejuvenates the mind and spirit.

Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is more than a practice; it’s a way of being. Leaders incorporate mindfulness exercises into their routines. Moments of quiet reflection, meditation, or yoga provide mental clarity and emotional balance.

Engage in Hobbies:  Hobbies are not just hobbies; they are gateways to joy. Leaders indulge in activities they love, whether it’s painting, playing a musical instrument, gardening, or any other pursuit that brings fulfillment.


 Self-leadership & Positive Mindset: Fueling Self-Belief and Resilience

The art of Self-leadership

Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

A positive mindset is the linchpin of self-leadership. Great leaders approach challenges with optimism, viewing obstacles as opportunities. Failures are not viewed as fatal but as stepping stones to success.


Positivity is not just a disposition; it’s a way of interpreting the world and responding to it.Positivity is not just a disposition; it's a way of interpreting the world and responding to it. Click To Tweet


In a positive mindset, leaders find the strength to inspire themselves and, in turn, inspire others.


Key Practices:

Practice Gratitude:.Gratitude is a magnet for positivity. Leaders acknowledge and express gratitude for the blessings in their lives, whether big or small. Gratitude shifts focus from what’s lacking to what’s abundant.

Affirmation Practice: Affirmations are not wishful thinking; they are powerful declarations. Leaders practice positive self-affirmations, reinforcing beliefs in their abilities and potential. These affirmations create a reservoir of self-belief.

Affirmations for Self-leadership

These ten affirmations designed to empower self-leadership and foster a positive mindset:

1. I am the architect of my own destiny; I possess the power to shape my future with purpose and determination.

2. I trust my intuition and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.

3. I lead by example, inspiring others with my unwavering confidence and authenticity.

4. My thoughts create my reality, and I choose to focus on positivity, gratitude, and endless possibilities.

5. I am resilient in the face of adversity; setbacks are stepping stones toward my success.

6. I deserve success, and I am capable of achieving my goals with passion, perseverance, and hard work.

7. I am a continuous learner, embracing new knowledge and experiences that enrich my leadership journey.

8. I honor my worth and set boundaries that nurture my well-being, both personally and professionally.

9. I lead with compassion, empathy, and understanding, fostering meaningful connections and collaborations.

10. I am a beacon of inspiration, radiating confidence, grace, and positivity in every situation I encounter.

Repeat these affirmations daily to reinforce your self-leadership qualities and cultivate a mindset of strength, resilience, and self-belief. They serve as powerful reminders of your capabilities and potential as a self-leader.

Resilience Building: Resilience is the ability to bounce back. Leaders develop resilience by reframing setbacks, finding the lessons within failures, and using challenges as stepping stones. Resilient leaders view adversity as a temporary detour, not a dead-end.


10 Super Self-leadership quotes to inspire you


1. “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln

2. “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

3. “Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.” – Simon Sinek

4. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

5. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

6. “Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” – Sam Levenson

7. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

8. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

9. “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

10. “The best leaders are those most interested in surrounding themselves with assistants and associates smarter than they are.” – John C. Maxwell


Conclusion: Self-leadership, Your Ticket to the World of Endless Possibilities


self-leadership takes center stage as the conductor, orchestrating the harmonious blend of growth mindset, clear goals, self-reflection, self-care, and positivity.


Exceptional leaders recognize that the journey of leadership begins within. By mastering the art of self-leadership, they not only motivate themselves to action but also inspire those around them.


In the grand finale of this exploration, it becomes evident that self-leadership is not a destination; it’s a continuous expedition of self-discovery and growth.


It’s about understanding one’s potential, embracing challenges, and nurturing a mindset that transforms setbacks into stepping stones.


Leaders who embody self-leadership radiate authenticity, resilience, and unwavering belief in their capabilities.


As you embark on your own journey of self-leadership, remember this: you are the author of your story, the architect of your destiny.


The canvas of your leadership is vast, waiting for the vibrant strokes of your actions and the insightful brushstrokes of your decisions. Through the art of self-leadership, you can paint a masterpiece that not only inspires you but also leaves an indelible mark on the world around you.


In the silence of self-reflection and the crescendo of self-belief, you’ll find the melody of your true leadership potential.


As you continue to refine the art of self-leadership, you step into a realm where your actions resonate with purpose, where your motivation is boundless, and where your leadership becomes a beacon of inspiration for others.


So, let the art of self-leadership be your guiding light. Let it be the compass that leads you through challenges and triumphs alike. Embrace the growth mindset, set your goals with clarity, reflect upon your journey, prioritize self-care, and nurture a positive mindset.


In this holistic approach to self-leadership, you have discovered not just the leader within you, but the extraordinary leader you are destined to become.


With each step you take on this transformative journey, you contribute not only to your own success but also to the collective brilliance of leadership that shapes a brighter, more empowered world.


As the curtain falls on this post, it rises once more, ushering you into the boundless possibilities of self-leadership.


Embrace it, embody it, and let it propel you to unparalleled heights of leadership excellence. The stage is yours; the world awaits your masterpiece.


Be great!


If You enjoy this article you also like:

7 Habits of Highly Effective Thinkers

6 Critical Areas of Self-leadership by John C. Maxwell

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Felix A. Duyilemi is the Senior Pastor of Christ Classic Int’l Ministries and the world’s #1 Greatness and Leadership Coach who specializes in helping people create extraordinary results by becoming aware of their infinite potential. He is the creator of  1000X Results Coaching Program, a Coaching Program designed to skyrocket your results.

Felix A. Duyilemi is the author of the Award-winning book, “How to Borrow God’s Brain to Succeed” and other top-rated books and has giving more than  5000 talks on subjects ranging from Success Ideation, Mindset, Leadership and Potential Maximization. His latest book is “How to Monetize Your Brain.”

When he’s not learning, or coaching or speaking, he’s at home enjoying the company of his amazing family!Reach him at [email protected]



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