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Self improvement Featured

5:14am EDT July 19, 2002

For most business leaders, setting out on the journey to find yourself leads to disillusionment.

The process is an inside journey which evolves over time. It is not an epiphany. You become yourself through conscious reflection, adjustment and self-directed shifts in your path.

That requires confidence in where you are now and faith that your life has a higher purpose that you are continually evolving to achieve. Identifying the challenging parts of becoming yourself is the easy part.

The key is, "What are you going to do about it?" Consider this five-step "run for your life" process.

Travel inside

Although you can look to others for guidance and inspiration to guide your run, ultimately, your life is a race against and for yourself. So how do you go about finding your purpose, passion and unique path?

Traveling inside begins by leaning into your life instead of waiting for the race to come to you. Bill Prior, CEO of Kinetico Corp., explains that you need to run the race of your life as if you are on fire. Your purpose must be driven by values and passions, which will light the fire.

For your race to be truly inspiring, consider how you would like to positively impact others and your community through your purpose.

Look outside

Once you have traveled inside, you need to look outside to mesh your internal purpose and passion with the external world. Start asking how you can make a difference in the world. Who needs your skills and capabilities? As they say in real estate, "What is your highest and best use?"

Increase your view of the world by leaving your comfort zone. Try things you have never done before, read about new subjects and concepts and get to know people outside your traditional circles.

Get running

Once you determine your initial purpose and begin to think through how you are going to use it in the world, you are ready to start running toward your goals and objectives.

Write down the steps necessary to move forward. Then, utilize resources available to you, such as mentors and others who are interested in sharing your dream and its excitement. Let others benefit and add value to your dream.

Most important, stop entering every race. When you have the option of saying no, you start having time to say yes to your path. Identify what you can stop doing.

Look at the scoreboard and make adjustments

Are so busy "doing" that you have no time to consider how you are "being?" To become yourself requires time to reflect on your scoreboard.

Consider a walk, jog, retreat or a journal. You can't reflect during your daily activities. Reflection takes time to be quiet so you can hear your inner voice. Find quiet time (even if it's only in the car) to consider your thoughts and feelings about your daily circumstances and the adjustments that are needed. This allows you to ask yourself what you could have done better to improve a result.

Learn from relationships with teammates, but don't be made by them. Much of your learning happens through interaction with others. Work to understand your teammates and employees by asking open-ended questions.

But remember, you're the boss, and you have the right to a different perspective.

Get a coach. Sometimes no matter how hard we try, we are blind to ourselves. Consider an executive coach for business or a personal coach to provide an objective scoreboard of results and assist in opening up paths and removing real and perceived obstacles.

Celebrate victories, then start again

Once you've run a great race and finished with your personal best, enjoy the moment. Then, get back on the path for the next race. Mike Foti (mfoti@leadershipbuilders.com) is CEO of Cleveland Glass Block and president of Leadership Builders. He speaks, trains, facilitates, consults and provides executive coaching on leadership and strategic planning. Reach him at (216) 531-6085.