You Have a Profound Capacity to Lead

My inner stirrings this week revolve around defining LEADERSHIP—something I've valued immensely since I was a child. I always looked up to people in positions of power. I thought, what an awesome responsibility to manage, direct or otherwise command the fate of another.

Then, this past year, as I approached 30, I felt called to put all of my values on trial (were they authentic or egoic?) and leadership was first to the stand. On the other side of self-study, meditation and some key learnings from the greats, I realized leadership is as authentic a value as any other, but not by my previous definition.

Here are my findings:

1. LEADERSHIP STARTS WITH YOU. Influence is the result of the mastery you have over your own self and life. And it comes from the power that lies within you—the power to align your thoughts, words and actions with your unique genius. True power has nothing to do with authority and everything to do with integrity, which is staying true to your inner compass. Our greatest leaders are no stranger to solitude. They know themselves, they understand their power—regardless of anyone else—and they exude a quiet strength that speaks much louder than barking commands.

If you've lost sight of the innate power within you, build an inner (mindset) and outer (network) environment that mirrors back what makes you exquisitely you. Chances are, if you don't entirely like who you are, you've forgotten who you are. Go to meet yourself. You're pretty fucking great.

2. LEADERS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. When you make a commitment to owning every facet of your life and circumstance—when you release any form of victimhood—you step into a place of empowerment. Doing this requires a psychological surrender. We may have a tight grip on bad things that have happened, are happening and will happen to us. And we think, by keeping them in the forefront of our minds, we're controlling our fate. But we're actually manifesting and perpetuating negativity.

Leaders see their external circumstances as a direct result of their own thoughts, words and actions and, in doing so, harness their capacity to effect positive change for themselves and others.

3. LEADERS ARE INTENTIONAL. The "trick" behind setting intentions is, quite simply, focusing your energy on what you want. I appreciate spontaneity and surrender. I've also learned the hard way that, without deciding first what you want, it's terribly difficult to shape a life you actually want to live. Everything great that anyone in history has ever accomplished started with the intention to do just that. Meditate, visualize your intentions manifesting, write them down and then practice aligning your thoughts, words and actions with those intentions, day in and day out. Practical magic.

4. LEADERS ARE EXPANDING. A leader is always seeking deeper understanding. Ever-curious, ever-learning and ever-expanding. According to Positive Psychology research, growth is a pillar of human happiness. So, naturally, people gravitate toward those who are expanding because they also want to grow. If you want to be a leader, prioritize learning and commit time to self-expansion every day.