The Mark of a Great Leader is Personal Mastery
By Sharon Winyi- African Women Leadership Institute (AWLI) July 2016
I have heard many people share key defining moments in their lives usually when they are celebrating major milestones in their lives such as the big 40, the birth of their children or the start of a new career, but as a young woman who has just completed University I am just beginning my journey to celebrating these milestones.
Last week I was honored to attend the African Women Leadership Institute from 25th-27th July 2016 offered by Akina Mama wa Afrika a leading feminist and transformational leadership development organization. The training encompassed an array of topics and distinguished faculty who inspired us to learn to unlearn in order to re-learn, think critically and aspire to impact on our communities for generations to come.
One of the sessions that really spoke to me was personal mastery, which simply means the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening one's personal vision focusing one's energies, developing oneself and seeing reality objectively. We all know one can never stop growing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Therefore for me committing to continuous improvement in everything I do in every aspect of my life was a critical learning. This is an ongoing journey of learning, where your results are reflected as feedback for the future, and not failure as often perceived. Moreover, mastery implies that because you value your innate gifts, you set up structures and support in your life, in order to fully and reliably express them. The so-called self-discipline, then, is not an act of controlling and punishing one’s self, but is motivated by self-love.
I also learnt that mastery doesn’t block unfolding from within, but catalyzes and sustains it. For some exceptional folks it may be fine to just flow with the spontaneous expression of the self, yet for the rest of us, both inspiration and structure are required. Inspiration alone risks losing momentum, and structure without spirit crumbles in the dust.
After a few days of reflection on all the sessions we had, my life’s mantra is “I need to learn to unlearn in order to relearn.” To me this summaries the essence of life’s past, present and future. In order to effectively succeed in my future am committed to letting go of unworthy aspects in my past to let the present flow. This is something we take for granted on so many levels.
By understanding myself better, I am now ready to learn how to make realistic goals, within a given timeframe. Starting small and working to the big decisions step by step and with caution. I have been able to weigh the pros and cons about myself, this way I can work on my weaknesses, seek assistance and guidance when am lacking and most of all utilize my strengths for a greater purpose.
For now, my biggest weakness is procrastination due to the availability of time which in this case I have learnt to beef up with commitment (strength) in order to achieve excellence. Having the time to explore all measures and methods to use on whatever assignment I am given.
Living isn’t good enough when there’s room to improve one’s way of life and how this can be achieved. It all starts with you. Your spiritual growth, being aware of your competence and skills, continuously staying in learning mode to improve your value, these are some of the ways one can get in touch with the self to fuel their development.
All in all one cannot choose to lead others when she can’t lead herself, and as Ms Solome Kimbugwe one of the faculty observed “As leaders we must lead through our actions and ensure that our actions speak for us”
AKina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Sub Saharan Africa- Ethiopia Office.
For more on IIE , ACE or AMwA please follow the links below.