Dave Kerpen | 4 Simple Steps to Becoming Your Best Self at Work
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4 Simple Steps to Becoming Your Best Self at Work

4 Simple Steps to Becoming Your Best Self at Work

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” -Benjamin Franklin

Ever since I became a huge Oprah fan, I’ve become interested in becoming my best self.

I’m a strong believer in self-improvement for both our professional and personal lives. In fact, one of our core values at Likeable Local is #AlwaysBeImproving. In an effort to help others be the best version of themselves in their career, I’ve asked Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. to share 4 steps to being your best self at work. Harry is the best-selling author of Becoming The Best: Build a World-Class Organization Through Values-Based Leadership.

In addition to being an author, he is the former chairman and CEO of Baxter International Inc., and is now a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management as well as an executive partner with Madison Dearborn Partners. This is what Harry shared:

People at every level and with any title can become values-based leaders. By their actions and interactions they set an example of what it means to be their “best selves”—and motivate and inspire others to do the same.

Your “best self” is the foundation of values-based leadership, which can be practiced by anyone from the cubicle to the corner office by following four key principles:

1. Engage in self-reflection—the most important values-based leadership tool.

Self-reflection is the intentional practice of taking time regularly (ideally, daily) to step back and look inward to gain clarity on your values and priorities. Through self-reflection, you identify what matters most to you, which will give you greater confidence in your decision-making. Otherwise, you’ll move from activity to activity—and one crisis to another—without a sense of direction or purpose. When you get off track (and everyone does occasionally) self-reflection will bring you back to center and help you navigate the challenges that you’re facing. Self-reflection can also counteract worry, fear, anxiety, pressure, and stress: first, by shedding light on what you’re really feeling, and, second, by keeping you grounded in reality.

2. Practice “balance” — seeing a bigger picture to make better decisions.

At every level of the organization, being your best self means you value balance in how you view any issue that needs to be addressed or problem to be solved. You don’t just rely on what you think or what you know; you purposefully seek a broader perspective by engaging others. That doesn’t mean dragging out the process or engaging in “paralysis by analysis.” However, if the decisions you make can be better, stronger, or more assured by reaching out to a colleague or team member whose input you can gather quickly, then being your best self demands that you do just that.

3. Have true self-confidence—to know what you know and what you don’t know.

To be your best self you must truly know who you are. You acknowledge your skills and accomplishments (what you know), as well as areas where you are not as strong (what you don’t know). No matter how good you are at something, true self-confidence is never arrogant. You know there will always be others who are more talented or successful than you are. When you act with true self-confidence you will attract others who want to work with and for you, whether you’re a team member or a team leader. Because you freely acknowledge what you know and what you don’t know, others can relate to you and will want to be part of your network of contacts and experts to share information and answers.

4. Display genuine humility—showing respect to everyone, equally.

When you act as your best self and a values-based leader, you focus on others. When you are the team leader, for example, you don’t take all the credit, but put the spotlight on the contributions of your team. Genuine humility also helps you see how and where you can extend a helping hand to others. As counterintuitive as it might seem, genuine humility is also a sign of strong leadership because it reminds you of where you came from, which allows you to relate to, influence, and lead others.

Your best self isn’t about perfection—it’s an ongoing process. By following these four principles of values-based leadership, you will develop the discipline and the commitment to be your best self every day.

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