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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Leading with Character: Discovering Our Self

Those who learn to lead themselves will strive to make good choices. They’ll find contentment in taking responsibility for their actions.

Have you been following the controversy over social media and how it impacts us? I find it intriguing. We Americans are living in a time of plenty, enjoying the highest standard of living (depending, of course, on how you define it) in history. Yet many of us are discontent. Unfulfilled. Searching for happiness in all the wrong places.

We’ve become more dependent upon forces outside ourselves for our welfare and satisfaction. We look for government handouts. We blame others for our problems. We’re divided against each other. We’re self-centered but not self-aware. Some believe this phenomenon has to do with the impact of social media, which can be a powerful force for better or worse.

We Need to Change Ourselves

Last week I read a piece in the Wall Street Journal by Sherry Turkle, professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and author of the book The Empathy Diaries. Regarding the influence of social media, Ms. Turkle postulates, “Changing social media is not enough. We need to change ourselves.”

Making Good Choices

That phrase caught my attention. To me, it means we have to take ownership over our lives. To become more self-aware. To make an effort to change ourselves instead of trying to change others. What happens to us or how we feel is not the fault of social media, the government, our workplace, or other people. In this great country, we have the power to choose. To choose what we look at or listen to, to choose how we act and react to influences. But to make good choices, we need to be secure in who we are. We need to understand ourselves: our motivations, our purpose, our resolve to live the life we want to live, not the life someone else tries to persuade us to live.

Leading Oneself

The best way to be secure in who you are is to first discover who you are. What are your core values? Your core values define you and are the foundation of your character. Leaders of character start with learning to lead themselves. From there they progress to leading others, then leading at higher levels in the organization.

Those who learn to lead themselves will strive to make good choices. They’ll find contentment in taking responsibility for their actions, in achieving the goals and objectives they’ve set for themselves, and in serving a higher purpose. Those people will become leaders of character who others want to follow.

Look in the Mirror: Do you need to make any changes in your life to become a more content, responsible, and positive leader?

Please join me again next week for more on Leading with Character.

Sandra L. Stosz
Vice Admiral Stosz, a Homeland Security Today editorial board member, started out in the U.S. Coast Guard as an ensign serving on polar icebreakers, conducting national security missions from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Her 40-year career is filled with leadership lessons gleaned while breaking ice and breaking glass as the first woman to command an icebreaker on the Great Lakes and to lead a U.S. armed forces service academy. She finished her career as the first woman assigned as Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, directing one of the Coast Guard’s largest enterprises. She has lectured widely on leadership, and has been featured on CSPAN and other media outlets. In 2012, Newsweek’s “The Daily Beast” named Vice Admiral Stosz to their list of 150 Women who Shake the World. Proceeds from “Breaking Ice and Breaking Glass: Leading in Uncharted Waters” will be donated to the US Coast Guard Academy James M. Loy Institute for Leadership.

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