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The Merits of Self-Centred Leadership

The world is crying out for leaders who lead from the front and ensure no one is left behind.  We need leaders who have the creativity and courage to create something that goes beyond their personal gain.  We want leaders who get the big picture and see what is truly possible for them and for their team.  They have the ability to enlist others into their vision, to make an impact and be remembered.

Leaders who inspire others simply by being utterly inspired by their mission are few and far between.  This is unfortunate, because every one of us has the potential to become such a leader.  And it begins with first taking leadership of your own life’s journey, really “owning” your choices and actions.

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of people in this world: victims and owners. 

When you have the mindset of an owner, you look at your own role in any given situation, however small and take complete responsibility for it.  You also take ownership of your own subsequent choices and actions. When you adopt the mindset of a victim, your default response when something goes wrong is to find someone to blame.  And then you wait to be rescued to make things right.

A victim will always think life is happening to them, that they are passive recipients of whatever is being sent their way – good or bad.  They are unlikely to feel they have any control over what happens next. Owners believe life happens for them, that opportunities and challenges are there to enjoy and learn from.  And crucially, they believe that they have a role to play in how things turn out.

Victims indulge in the blame game, can come across as entitled and focused mainly on what their rights are.  Consequently they can become stuck and are often unable to see past their own predicament. Owners take responsibility for their role in any situation and actively find ways to move forward from there.

Taking responsibility is not the same as accepting blame or feeling at fault.  It’s not always about the past.  It is about the present moment and about creating a better future. Taking complete responsibility for all your choices and actions in this life is what leadership is about and being in the flow state is about.  When you think and act like an owner, you become a leader who is self-aware, has self-belief and exercises self-control in all walks of life. When you become an “owner” in your life you not only treat others how you’d like to be treated, you also treat yourself with love, compassion and respect.

This is easier said than done.  Most people who are altruistic and want to make a difference to others’ lives often tend to put themselves at the bottom of their list of priorities.  By focusing on the needs and wants of those who depend on them, they may feel good about helping others.  But if they’re not careful, they can end up feeling drained and depleted.  Once you’ve reached that place of “empty” you’re no good to anyone, not even to yourself. Take the oxygen mask analogy.  When you’re on an aeroplane, they tell you that in event of cabin pressure falling you must first secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.  The analogy applies in life, whether it’s about collective effort or individual contribution towards a greater cause.

Before you can turn your attention to causes beyond your self, you must first focus on yourself and become centred.

As a technique centring has been used in martial arts for hundreds of years.  It involves focused thought, muscle relaxation and rhythmic breathing.  The merits of being centred are now widely understood and practised in many other sports too.  Centring helps to minimise distractions so the athlete can focus on the task at hand with the body and mind connected in a flow state of optimal performance.

Isn’t it time these practices were also adopted in other settings, notably in business, involving leaders, teams, goals and a plethora of unknowns? 

And today it begins with you.

How many times in your life have you felt guilty about focusing on yourself when there are a million other things that are demanding your attention?  Have you ever been labelled as selfish for putting yourself first?

I invite you to grant yourself permission to become SELF-CENTRED and understand how it is different to being selfish.

Most people use those two terms interchangeably believing they mean the same thing.

A self-centred person is self-aware looking within for answers, whereas a selfish person is self-absorbed looking externally for solutions.

Being self-centred is about going deep within your self and taking ownership of all your choices and actions.

Being self-centred is about accepting that everything you need and want can be found within you.  It means that even change around you begins with you.

When you are self-centred you focus on yourself without make everything about you.

Selfishness on the other hand is making everything about you, expecting others to focus on your needs and wants.

When you're self-centred:
1) You create change from within
2) You love and accept yourself as you are
3) You believe in yourself and what's possible for you
4) You listen to your body and inner voice and pay attention
5) You take leadership and ownership of your own life's journey
6) You find fulfilment in the choices you make and actions you take
7) Your life acquires a purpose that goes beyond your own wants and needs

Being self-centred helps you take ownership of your life with responsibility and purpose. 

The day I understood the difference between being self-centred and being selfish was the day I took a huge step towards becoming a leader in my own life.  I invite you to do the same.  It is only then can you focus on things bigger than yourself and make a meaningful difference in this world.

Rohini Rathour is a Leadership Coach and Mentor who helps leaders become more self-aware, have deeper self-belief and exercise greater self-control.  She previously spent two decades in wealth management investing in global stock markets and engaging with corporate leaders.  Her two signature programmes Find Your Flow and Create Your Own Breakthrough are designed to be a leader who will make an impact and be remembered. More information about them is available on her website

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author

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