‘Small children, small worries and big children, big worries’, a truism when it comes to your offspring's mobility. During childhood, the child's safety is central, just think of learning to ride a bike. But the stakes are raised when a teenager starts driving training because suddenly your survival as a parent is under threat too. It starts with, in our case, a hand-geared Ford that seems to constantly remind you of your own mortality. Giving driving lessons to your dear son or daughter confronts you with primal fears whose existence you had repressed. The moment the student mistakes the accelerator for a brake pedal, you see your fragile life flash by, in addition to the astonished looks of other drivers. And swerve into the empty parking lot of a supermarket out of preservation of life offers no solace either. After all, it is not empty, not even on Sundays. No, it is full of cars marred by 'L' stickers, crying teenagers and frustrated parents. And this is because we seem to forget that the latter also have an important lesson to learn.
For, as a parent, we forget that our skills to drive a car differ from the skills we need to learn to drive another person as a passenger. And the latter we often have less developed. Faced with this stalemate, we then often lose ourselves in irritation over the blundering son or daughter. And this while we should realise that we cannot lead others without first being able to lead ourselves.
In the workplace, it is no different. Often you get a leadership position because you can bring something to a successful conclusion yourself, because you are a good driver. But as a leader, you have to dare, and be able, to hand over that wheel to ensure that others become a good driver. And that requires strong self-leadership in the first place. That is the skill of influencing yourself so that you properly complete all assignments. And by all tasks, we don't just mean the tasks that suit you. No, it also means the tasks that are much more challenging for you and the tasks for which you sometimes have less patience. And so you achieve this by developing self-leadership and you do this by focusing on its three dimensions: 'self-knowledge', 'self-motivation' and 'self-activation'.
Self-knowledge is immersing yourself in what you regularly do and drawing lessons from it. Consider yourself a study object and map out what behaviours you frequently perform and what outcomes these behaviours lead to. Then try to set improvement goals around behaviours that don't help you complete assignments successfully. Also try to identify what you can do to reinforce your effective behaviours and translate this too into concrete goals. For driving lessons, an improvement goal might be to focus on one skill to be developed per lesson.
Your self-motivation, or ability to push yourself, is strengthened by keeping the focus on the road in the pursuit of an outcome. Chart the journey, the destination will follow. Furthermore, you do well to look at 'what' and 'who' motivates you. Based on that, try to surround yourself with people who energise you. Also immerse yourself in activities that positively feed and/or energise you. To continue with the metaphor of car lessons, translate the goal of developing one skill per lesson into steps such as giving some theory, coming up with a fun practical exercise and structured review per lesson. To give yourself extra incentive, work all this out with a fellow sufferer in your favourite brasserie.
Finally, there is self-activation, the skill of putting yourself in motion. You acquire it by starting from concrete initiatives. So no grand resolutions but small actions that together lead to a greater result. Also visualise the progress by mapping these initiatives and ticking off when you have carried them out. In short, the improvement goal of one skill per lesson translated into giving some theory as an intermediate step could be translated into initiatives like calling a driving instructor and looking up a YouTube instruction video.
Believing that after reading this article there will be more peace and quiet in the car park, you must excuse me now, there is a Ford AND a daughter waiting for me.