One Skill For Every Leader

The vital yet rare ability of leaders to remain self-aware as their career progresses.

It's self-awareness. But let me explain why...On the first day of my first job, I arrived 30 minutes early. I sat patiently in my father's car while he dispensed advice I was too nervous to process. I was 17 years old, wearing a suit too big for my frame, facing a challenge I felt ill-equipped to handle. The job was with a respectable insurance company in Dublin, Ireland. My role would initially belimited to their filing room but there was potential for me to gain experience working with customers should I successfully complete my first month of assignments. I was terrified. I wanted to make my family proud. On a more practical note, the job afforded me the opportunity to pay for my own college education, which I would pursue each evening after work. As I waited for an appropriate time to begin my workday, I recall my father pausing from his counsel and grabbing my hand in his. "It'll be fine", he said. "Just enjoy yourself and do your best".

My first day at that job was fine. Miraculously all days since then have been relatively fine as well. Sure, there are ups and downs. We experience politics at work, disappointments on projects, difficult challenges and even career setbacks. But in the face of all of these, I've reverted back to that simple advice. It'll be fine.Just enjoy yourself and do your best. When I recite it I hear my father's voice in all it's reassuring glory. Often times before giving a speech, I will recount his advice. I will even grip my own hand and utter those same words internally as I compose myself. It recreates the memory and also reminds me of how far I have come since that day.Literature will always serve to intrigue, educate and nourish us. However, I truly believe that the best advice and the best motivation comes from our own life experiences, and the memories those experiences create. It's through our family, friend and co-worker connections that we can derive true motivation and guidance. Our connections give us the advice, memories and experiences that will shape us in ways that no book or article can.

My true motivation and guidance comes from those I care about the most. My father's example is one, but there are many more experiences I draw strength from. I'm fortunate to meet new people everyday who kindly share advice and experience that continues to shape my approach to work. All I have to do is remain self-aware and open to their ideas. If I can master this one skill, remaining fully self-aware through all work experiences, I know I can continue to grow and succeed.So, where does YOUR true motivation come from? Do you have a memory or experience that has shaped your character in ways that no article, book or post could?