Staying The Course On The Journey To Personal Excellence And Success



Evolving into our best self and living our best life are among the highest aspirations of the human soul. Achieving such feats of personal success will be shaped, and even determined by our ability to lead ourselves, and stay the course along the frequently challenging highway of personal success. As we intentionally follow our defined pathway to individual achievement, we must uphold self-leadership as one of our pillars of personal success. Bryant and Kazan 2012 define self-leadership as:

“the practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feeling and actions towards your objective/s”.


This quote highlights our role as influencers in our own success: We must intentionally adjust the way we think, feel, and act so they are aligned with our success goals.




Typically, we may find ourselves fully energized and empowered at the start of our journey towards personal excellence and success. Maybe we would have recently experienced a voyage of self-discovery, and are now empowered by self-acceptance and the drive for self-growth. Consequently, we are in the advantageous position where:
• We have a sound sense of who we are
• We know what we want to do
• We are motivated and energized

As we progress along the journey, in one moment, we may feel empowered – our passion, energy and momentum are at a high. In another moment, we may find ourselves challenged by lows, discomfort, disappointments, failures, and set-backs. The reality is that empowerment alone will not enable us to stay the course: It must be energized and sustained by self-leadership. According to a famous quote by Kenneth H. Blanchard:


Empowerment is something someone gives you. Self-leadership is what you do to make it work.

[The One Minute Manager, 2003]

To achieve success, therefore, we must combine empowerment and self-leadership: We must intentionally engage in the art of self-leadership by influencing our communication, emotions, and behaviours.



The art of self-leadership requires a lifetime commitment to certain core principles:

1. Own Our Life’s Journey
If we are to own our life’s journey, here are some “must do’s”:
• Become The Captain Of Our Own Ship
We must set the desired course for our life [plan], position ourselves at the helm [take the lead], and navigate [act] until we get to our targeted destination [stay the course]
• Operate From Our Circle Of Influence/Control
We must recognize what we have control over [our thoughts, attitudes, behaviours] and act based on these things, rather than waste our energy focusing on the things over which we have no control [other person’s thoughts, attitudes and behaviours]
• Take Ownership For Achieving Results
We must take charge, be courageous, engage in purposeful action, avoid blaming others, get up quickly after a fall, get back in the game, and continue to play until we win

2. Develop A Robust Self-Support Structure
• Psychological: We must adopt values, attitudes, and principles which will serve us throughout our life’s journey because they are transferable, applicable, and beneficial in all situations – for example service excellence, dependability, and value and respect for people
• Behavioural: We must establish and maintain patterns of behaviour that will support our quest for success – for example planning, prioritizing, organizing, goal setting; delivering excellent service; and daily dedicating half hour to a specific personal development activity
• Self-Maintenance: We must eat, exercise, rest, sleep, de-stress, play, and relax our way into a healthy, balanced, meaningful life.
• Tools
We must ensure that our personal toolbox is outfitted with tools that will help us to achieve self control, emotional stability, and effective problem solving

3. Lead Ourselves From Within
• We must allow our values and principles to shape our thinking, responses, and behaviours, rather than other people or external circumstances

4. Overcome Internal Hindrances To Success
• We must overcome our fears, especially the fear of rejection, taking risks and failure; conquer the paralysis of analysis; and reject pessimism even in its weakest form

5. Solve Problems From The Root
• We must develop expertise in identifying and solving problems, and invest the bulk of our energy in finding solutions, especially permanent solutions to recurring problems. Spend 20% on the problem and 80% on the solution



• Emotional Intelligence
Recognize and understand our own feelings and those of others
• Emotional Wisdom
Regulate our feelings and respond appropriately to the feelings of others
• Self-Regulation/Self-Control
– Focus on the message and do not respond to the noise [emotion-heightening distractions] in communication
– Have a pause button [positive self-talk, meditation, personal mantra, breathing exercises, etc.] that we can use to help us keep our disruptive emotions, moods, behaviours and other impulses in check
– Keep our emotions in balance so that we stay in the calm, rational zone, and avoid emotional highs and lows
• Empathy: Understand other persons’ concerns or feelings, view situations from their perspective, and make their concerns our own
• Absorb. Hold. Release: Let go or release the impact of negative people or experiences quickly
• Self-Coaching: Guide ourselves in order to encourage and motivate us to take the right action, make the right decision, or behave in the right way