Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to “be somebody.” For the major part of my life, I worked very hard at being whatever I thought I needed to be – to be a good leader amongst my peers. I wanted so deeply to inspire and motivate others, and to make a difference in a way that was unforgettable. I thought being a leader meant that I had to constantly prove that I was good enough to win the acknowledgment and appreciation of others.
For the early years of my life, I just didn’t feel I was good enough, so I exhausted myself trying to run away from anything that would make people know me. “Me” was not interesting and wasn’t somebody I wanted to meet, much more others. So I became to others what I thought others wanted me to be.
My University days were worse and as anyone who has gone through a University system knows, as you move through each level, the demands on you to present yourself articulately and orally increase; whether it’s having to answer questions in class, participate in group discussions, or deliver group or individual presentations in front of the class – it never seemed to end.
And boy did I hate it!
As a result, I sacrificed my authenticity, my intuition, my self-respect, and my self-love—all because I never believed I had the capacity to be “somebody” in the eyes of other people. I sabotaged myself in the face of opportunity because deep down, I felt I “myself” was never enough. One of my friends once told me, “You can’t help people if you can’t find yourself”, that you can only discover your capacity when you allow myself to be found. That made it much harder to keep doing the things I knew weren’t helping me, hence my reset button was activated. I began to let go of the need to constantly prove myself, to be a leader, and instead focused on learning to be and embrace myself. Now, I’m not afraid to be me and own ME. I realized that being a leader is being complete with who you are and not being afraid to speak from that place, giving feedback and sharing opinions from that place. It didn’t take long for me to get nominated for a leadership role at the church I worshiped in Lagos, Nigeria where I served as a leader until I relocated to Abuja.
Until we know ourselves, we are lost. Once we find ourselves, we can be found by others. As we continue to learn more about who and what we really are, we fully embrace the idea that life is a choice. We get to choose how we interpret and perceive everything. What we choose determines whether we rise or fall. I am also learning that a real leader doesn’t try to lead, but simply becomes the kind of person who others observe, learn from, and are inspired to follow.
A leader is a teacher and servant by default. A leader doesn’t try to be happy all the time, but embraces every aspect of his or her process, quietly shining the light for others to do the same.
As I learn to live my life for me first, I have begun to see how the choices I make affect more than just me. When I’m operating from a place of fear, worrying about how I am nobody, that limits the positive impact that I can have on the people around me.
This makes me realize how much opportunity there is to be of service in the world, just by living my own life honestly, authentically, and in alignment with my own heart.
It’s important for us to understand the power of learning about who we really are and what really matters to us. Then, we can align our choices with the morals and boundaries we set for ourselves from a place of self-love and self-respect. What we contribute to the world through the choices that we make has a ripple effect. Your life affects mine, and visa-versa.
Ultimately, the way we choose to interpret and perceive things will not only affect our own well-being, but it will affect the collective well-being of others. Therefore, we must lead by example. We must honor ourselves instead of judging ourselves. Judgment keeps us stuck exactly where we are, and the world suffers as a result. When we’re conscious of the simple, yet profound power that lies within our choices, we can create a better world every day and be powerful leaders just by shining our own light.
I believe we are all leaders inside. I believe that we all have something to teach one another. I believe that there is power in living authentically, in alignment with our own hearts and intuition.
Everything we do matters, whether we realize it in the moment or not. This is not to say that we should expect ourselves to be perfect, because that’s not realistic, and we can always learn a lot from our mistakes. If we choose to reset the leader within, then life is no longer about “us against them” or comparison, competition, and all these things that are rooted in separation and fear, which ultimately destroy us. Instead, we can choose to quietly lead by example, from a place of wisdom, responsibility, integrity, trust, love, joy, and connection to each other.
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