A lesson in growth: learn To lead yourself before others.

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At Ruby Receptionists, we believe in and honor five core values: Foster Happiness, Create Community, Innovate, Practice WOW-ism, and Grow (my personal favorite). As someone who thirsts to learn and stretch her comfort zone, I’ve been lucky to work for a company that feels the same way about growth as I do. Ruby’s most palpable embodiment of this value is in its creation of our Leadership Development Program. Comprised of four phases, this program teaches Rubys a treasured skill set, allowing graduates to leave the classroom prepared to take on leadership roles here at Ruby and in the outside world.

The first phase of the program focuses on developing the leader within—delving into self-discovery and self-exploration. As a graduate of this phase, I’ve learned so much! Here are my biggest takeaways.

Core Values. While I knew of Ruby’s core values, I’d never taken time to think about what my own core values might be. With much time and focus, I thought about what makes me tick. I thought of the stories behind my biggest successes, failures, and the people I most admire. I considered the common themes and qualities in those stories and people, narrowing those to the one’s with which I most closely identified. After this self-reflection, I found my values to be Grow, Love, Family, Integrity, and Adventure.

Now that I’ve determined my core values, they have brought me a step closer to understanding who I am as a leader. My beliefs positively impact my decision making as I incorporate them into everything I do. If I am faced with a decision I am unsure of, I ask myself whether I am honoring these values. Will my actions result in personal growth or encourage the growth of others? Am I acting in a way that shows love and kindness? How does my decision affect my family? Am I being honest and moral? Am I acting with bravery in the face of the unknown?

Mission Statement. Similar to defining my individual values, I then took that one step further by creating a personal mission statement. Exploring the common themes that matter most to me helped me to create a mission to live by—a roadmap to refer to throughout my life journey.

When creating a mission statement, it should answer why you do what you do. This is why knowing your core values first are so helpful, as you’ve already become aware of what matters most to you. Looking through the lens of my mission statement, I’ve found I’ve become much more confident in the choices I make as leader in both my personal and professional lives.

One example of a powerful mission statement is that of Mahatma Gandhi’s. His statement is a short list of actions.

  • I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
  • I shall fear only God.
  • I shall not bear ill toward anyone.
  • I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
  • I shall conquer untruth by truth.
  • And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.

Self-Talk. It may seem like an obvious observation, yet I was profoundly moved by the idea we are all telling ourselves something at any given time. For instance, we continually evaluate our behavior and the behaviors of others. We think of the laundry list of tasks we’d like to accomplish in any day. I became much more aware of whether my voice was being kind and positive toward myself. Proactively switching the phrases I used in my head brought about a noticeable change in my effectiveness as a person. Switching my thoughts from “I should do” and “I have to” to “I want to” and “I am” meant a shift toward accomplishing goals, rather than ruminating about them.

As I began to incorporate these three notions into my daily life, there were challenges—my biggest being awareness of my self-talk. As I embraced the idea of changing the tone of my mind’s voice, I realized I faced breaking a habit I had practiced my entire life. With vigilance and dedication to change, it became easier to monitor my thoughts.

I became a better leader and others noticed. I began to demonstrate a higher level of accountability and confidence. I felt much surer of myself as I took on newer and bigger challenges. I began to help foster growth in my teammates by sharing my new found knowledge. Less than a year after the program ended, I was promoted to a leadership position within the Client Happiness department. Now that I know how to lead myself, I am ready to embrace the next step—leading one-on-one. I’m now embarking on the second phase of the program and am excited to see what this new journey brings!

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