5 Steps to Personal Greatness

UPDATED: July 24, 2020
PUBLISHED: December 20, 2016
5 Steps to Personal Greatness

At the core of personal mastery is self-understanding. Transformation is about dealing with fundamental motives and causes rather than simply dabbling at symptomatic issues.

Related: 126 Ways to Be Extraordinary

Nurturing these five selfs will fuel your quest for personal mastery:

1. Self-Awareness

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is not as easy as it sounds. To understand our personal surpluses and deficits is not an option on our journey to personal greatness. If we want to drive our performance, then we must be able to manage our emotions in ways that energize and direct that drive.

The research is plentiful that IQ accounts for about 20 percent of a person’s success. Moods account for much more. If we are not aware of our moods, then they can end up controlling our behavior in counterproductive ways. Self-awareness means we are growing in our ability to read our emotions accurately. This gives us the ability to self-regulate and self-manage destructive moods and attitudes. Mood mastery is necessary for personal mastery.

Be self-aware instead of self-conscious.

2. Self-Affirmation

We know it’s not healthy to speak against or gossip about others. It becomes even more destructive when we use words to speak against ourselves. Self-affirmation is a matter of choosing what we focus on. If others talked to us the way we sometimes talk to ourselves, we would avoid them. It can become easy to degrade ourselves, sometimes subliminally. Instead of letting other people and circumstances decide what you will focus on, make it your choice.

Attitudes that asphyxiate include: You’re no good… lousy… incompetent… unable… ordinary… worthless. Attitudes that affirm? I am lovable… forgivable… capable… have strengths… am multi-talented… have purpose. The world can be a negative place. You must counteract toxic noise.

Be self-affirming instead of self-degrading.

3. Self-Motivation

If you are waiting to be motivated by someone else, personal mastery will elude you. Always giving your best is an inside job. Some days are better than others, but give your best every day. Anything less than that leads to a thin life and ultimately, regret.

Motivation is the underlying reason why a person does or doesn’t do something. The stick and carrot incentive is not nearly as powerful as a person’s innate interests. This raises the level of personal productivity and individual engagement. It’s about knowing how you are hardwired and drawing on your natural sense of intrigue.

Be self-motivated instead of self-absorbed.

4. Self-Differentiation

Knowing where you end and others begin is the key to healthy living. You have to understand that when people get together, they create an emotional force field. This force field is powerful. It can cause people to get enmeshed with others and fall into groupthink, or what some refer to as the herd instinct. On the other extreme, it can cause them to disconnect from others and lose important feedback loops, which are the keys to learning. One extreme leads to a sense of helplessness, blame, rationalization, denial, co-dependency and victimhood.

When we self-differentiate, we take responsibility for who and where we are. Responsibility means we have the ability to respond. This powerful skill gives us increased choices and freedoms. It strengthens our immune system to the opinions and actions of others. To not do this is to become the victim of needless suffering.

Practice self-differentiation instead of self-pity.

5. Self-Love

If we are to “love our neighbor as our self,” then I will submit that your love for others cannot and will not exceed your love for yourself. To love others without loving yourself is often an act of desperation to seek someone’s approval. As a result, it says more about the sender’s needs than the needs of the receiver. Sometimes wanting the best for others can involve pain. And wanting the best for yourself includes telling yourself the truth. And who, at times, hasn’t found that to include some pain?

There’s a reason why the airline’s safety instructions tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. You’ll be no good to them without it. You can’t give what you don’t have.

Be self-loving instead of self-serving.

These five self’s will help you discover and express what you want. They lead to clear communication and help avoid drama, regret, sadness and misunderstanding. Personal greatness is not possible without them.

Related: The 3 Parts of Personal Development


This post originally appeared on LeadershipTraQ.com.

Mick Ukleja, Ph.D., is the founder and president of LeadershipTraQ. He empowers leaders to optimize their talent and equips them to excel in their professional and personal life. Mick is an author, speaker and generational strategist. He writes and speaks on engaging millennials at work. He is the co-author of Managing the Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce, 2nd Edition, which is used in corporate training and business schools. He co-founded the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership at California State University, Long Beach, which promotes ethics across the curriculum. Mick is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Concordia University. His book Who Are You? What Do You Want? has been praised by legendary coach John Wooden: “I have always taught that success can be achieved by each one of us. These principles provide an excellent life-planning guide for bringing out your best.” Mick has been featured on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business Network, NBC and in numerous publications. Keep up with Mick at Leadershiptraq.com.