Lead yourself if you want to lead others.

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Essay on leadership for Chevening scholarship application.

Everyone wants power, that’s the fact about human nature. At the minimum, you want to influence your immediate family. You want control. The underlying reason someone would become a leader is to control her surroundings. A leader has a wonderful opportunity to make a positive and lasting impact on their followers.

Someone is a leader when he has followers. And to attract followers, a leader has to work the extra miles. They have to master something that is hard and rare. The secret to being a great leader is the ability to master oneself.

Mastering oneself is never easy. I led myself into a darker place in life. After a successful childhood, my life changed once I entered University. Growing up, I was always the centre of attention in school or at home. I was praised, idolised, and loved. I lost all of that in University. There were people better than me in all areas. I was not getting the praise and attention I craved.

I felt useless, so I looked for diversions. I took drugs, alcohol, and tried everything to feel special. I kept the unhealthy habits until my professional work. When you are on drugs, the worst addiction is that your brain will always think about it at all time. I never studied well in University, nor did I take work seriously during my first three years as an employee.

The only way to change the world is to improve yourself. When you see yourself differently, you see the world differently. Thus, you are living in a different world. And to see yourself differently, you have to change your attitude. According to Carl Jung, attitude is “The readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way, based on an underlying psychological orientation.” Once you locked your attitude towards mastering yourself. You will slowly learn and earn the wisdom to be a great leader. The cumulative wisdom is what separates great leaders from average ones.

Mastering oneself is mastering self-control. Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius kept a “meditations” journal specifically for this. It is the hardest thing for me. Our lower self-acts as of those animals. Like monkeys, when presented with banana, it will be hard to resist. Until I saw patterns that usually the hard choices are the right choices. Always choosing the hard choices requires self-control.

You know you have improved when you have better problems. Once I beat drugs, I faced a better enemy. How can I learn faster to fulfil my potential? Your life situation will also change. Because you improve yourself, you see yourself as a better person, and that change how others perceive you. When you master self-control, you will be calm and decisive. Others will rely on you on important decisions, they will see you as someone with a purpose, someone who is capable of leading.

That’s how you gain followers. That’s what attracts them.

Lead yourself if you want to lead others.

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