Lead yourself if you want to lead others

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.

Follow your thoughts

You know that learning is a powerful thing to do every day. It broadens your view of the world, it sharpens your mind, it makes life interesting, and it makes you interesting.

To really learn is to follow through on what you are thinking. Whatever you are thinking, you have an interest in, and that interest is the pre-requisite of learning. Following through is digging more and more about that thing.

One way is by writing it down. Have a blog, a journal, a book, writes whatever you think inside your head. Dig. Repeat.

I’m Too Afraid

I have not been writing recently. Because I was afraid. Fear has beaten me over and over again.

Here’s why. This is exactly it.

There was no physical danger in pursuing my writing.

Nobody was going to try to hurt me because they read an article I wrote about book marketing.

And yet, I was terrified.

I was so afraid to put something I wrote out into the world. It’s one thing to do the work behind someone else putting her work out there. It is quite different to do it yourself. But again, why?

What is so scary about sharing your creativity with the world?

When I am creating something, I am digging into my soul to expose something. These aren’t widgets being created on an assembly line somewhere. I am putting a piece of myself on the page and then exposing it to the world. When I code up a website and somebody doesn’t like it, I don’t feel like somebody isn’t liking me. But when someone doesn’t like my writing, it feels like that thing inside my soul is stupid and not worth being exposed.

That’s much more personal.

If you resonate with that kind of feeling. Read Tim Grahl’s new book.

Profit and Loss

Recall the kind of feeling you have when someone praises you, when you are approved, accepted, applauded. And contrast that with the kind of feeling that arises within you when you look at the sunset or the sunrise or Nature in general, or when you read a book or watch a movie that you thoroughly enjoy. Get the taste of this feeling and contrast it with the first, namely, the one that was generated within you when you were praised. Understand that the first type of feeling comes from self-glorification, self-promotion. It is a worldly feeling. The second comes from self-fulfillment, a soul feeling.

Here is another contrast: Recall the kind of feeling you have when you succeed, when you have made it, when you get to the top, when you win a game or a bet or an argument. And contrast it with the kind of feeling you get when you really enjoy the job you are doing, you are absorbed in, the action that you are currently engaged in. And once again notice the qualitative difference between the worldly feeling and the soul feeling.

Yet another contrast: Remember what you felt like when you had power, you were the boss, people looked up to you, took orders from you; or when you were popular. And contrast that worldly feeling with the feeling of intimacy, companionship—the times you thoroughly enjoyed yourself in the company of a friend or with a group in which there was fun and laughter.

Having done this, attempt to understand the true nature of worldly feelings, namely, the feelings of self-promotion, self-glorification. They are not natural, they were invented by your society and your culture to make you productive and to make you controllable. These feelings do not produce the nourishment and happiness that is produced when one contemplates Nature or enjoys the company of one’s friends or one’s work. They were meant to produce thrills, excitement—and emptiness.

Then observe yourself in the course of a day or a week and think how many actions of yours are performed, how many activities engaged in that are uncontaminated by the desire for these thrills, these excitements that only produce emptiness, the desire for attention, approval, fame, popularity, success or power.

And take a look at the people around you. Is there a single one of them who has not become addicted to these worldly feelings? A single one who is not controlled by them, hungers for them, spends every minute of his/her waking life consciously or unconsciously seeking them? When you see this you will understand how people attempt to gain the world and, in the process, lose their soul. For they live empty, soulless lives.

And here is a parable of life for you to ponder on: A group of tourists sits in a bus that is passing through gorgeously beautiful country; lakes and mountains and green fields and rivers. But the shades of the bus are pulled down. They do not have the slightest idea of what lies beyond the windows of the bus. And all the time of their journey is spent in squabbling over who will have the seat of honor in the bus, who will be applauded, who will be well considered. And so they remain till the journey’s end.

Read the full book: The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello (Image Pocket Classics) https://www.amazon.com/dp/038524939X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_BpJnBbY850WJD

Keeping The Government Clean

A precondition for an honest government according to LKY:

A precondition for an honest government is that candidates must not need large sums of money to get elected, or it must trigger off the cycle of corruption. The bane of most countries in Asia has been the high cost of elections. Having spent a lot to get elected, winners must recover their cost and accumulate funds for the next election. The system is self-perpetuating.

My beloved Indonesia:

Indonesia was a celebrated example of corruption on such a grand scale that Indonesian media coined the acronym “KKN”. President Suharto’s children, friends, and cronies set examples that made KKN an irreducible part of Indonesian culture.

Amazing book – https://www.amazon.com/Third-World-First-Singapore-1965-2000/dp/0060197765

The Perfect Type

There are two types of people in this world.

Type one is people who wake up, know what to do next, loving their job, never be aimless, be in the “flow” state often, and when they hit the pillow at night. Poof! They are gone to the dream world in seconds. The cycle repeats.

A different type is the ones who wake up, not really clear about their days ahead, loving some part of their job, browse the internet at work, occasionally in a “flow” state but most of the time not. And when they turn off the lights at night, hit the pillow, and un-poof! They did not sleep and start thinking. Thinking about something, something they want, lack, crave. Some dreams they’d like to achieve, some ideal they’d like to become. Chattery mind.

This writing exists because I was the second type. I raise from the bed and write down what’s on my head. Why couldn’t I go to sleep? Am I not happy with my life? Am I not grateful for what I have? How can’t I just accept everything and be at peace? Why I anxiously lying on my bed thinking that I have to change, I have to be successful, I have to finish my book, I have to switch career, and so on.

Wait, there is another type of people. The one that is more like no. 1 whose life seems aligned with their expectation but turns out they are unable to sleep well at night. So, they continue working until they feel exhausted, had few hours of sleep and back to their work again. The cycle repeats.

Is there a right or wrong about this?

Wait! There is another type. The one who is at peace with whatever state they are in, may or may not work, and able to sleep quickly.

Which one is the right type? Which one is the best and which one is the worst?

Well, I don’t know.

 

What you do defines you

You appreciate your health when you work out. You appreciate your money when you invest. You value your relationship when you discuss and agree on the hard issues. You value kindness when you help others. You value your time and family when you work hard. You appreciate God when you are grateful.

Do only what you value. Don’t lie to yourself. If you know something is bad for you, don’t do it. It sounds simple. But, like me, people are just crazy.

Benjamin P Hardy in his Medium article:

In the recent book, Skin in the Game, Dr. Nassim Nicholas Taleb explains that WHAT YOU DO is the purest definition of your value system. In Start with Why, Simon Sinek said the same thing. Your actions demonstrate what you really believe.

Gandhi said, “Action expresses priorities.” He also said, “To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest,” which is what psychologists call “Cognitive dissonance” — the state of internal conflict. You can’t be confident if you don’t trust yourself. Confidence is a byproduct of congruent and successful behavior.

What you do defines you.