The First Person You Must Lead

Every person is a leader. Or so I believe.

We are all called to lead at least one person. That person?


lead yourself first

The First Person You Lead


You may hear varying reports on how you become a leader. One thing is certain: The first person you lead must be yourself.

It’s hard to lead others when you’re not leading yourself.

This may sound odd, but it’s true.

We have no actual control over others. We do have control of ourselves.

We tell our bodies what to do. We tell our mouths what to speak. We tell ourselves when to go to the bathroom. We tell ourselves what to eat (or not eat).

We are the only ones that can control these aspects of our lives.

How well we do these things impacts how well we can lead others.

Why We Must Lead Ourselves First

People are looking for a leader. But they’re not looking for just anyone.

Followers want someone who can show the way. Someone who has been where they have been.

They want someone who:

Has worked out and lost weight

Has experienced success in business

Has control of their emotions

Has great family relationships

Has proven they can lead

Each of these actions tells other people something: That you know how to lead at least one person. That person is yourself.

They desire to follow someone who has chosen to lead.

Be that person.

How To Lead Yourself

Leading yourself can be difficult. Just thinking about it seems weird.

You may ask yourself: How do I lead myself? How can I be a good example? How will I be able to this?

That’s simple. It’s back to the fact we must lead ourselves first.

You lead yourself by:

Making time to continue to educate yourself

Exercising and keeping fit

Spending time with your loved ones

Creating a schedule for work and for home

Getting up when you don’t feel like it

Turning off the TV when you want to watch nine more episodes of The Walking Dead

Sitting down to write when you’d rather be doing anything else

Finding time to interact with mentors

Leading yourself looks a lot like leading others.

Question: Do you believe you must lead yourself first? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I found an accountability partner this year. I was hoping that would help, but the reality is – I’m failing at accountability because I am failing at leading myself. Lots to think about here, Joe. I went back and read your linked articles. I have a schedule. It’s built on water. Which of course requires that I am able to walk on water to achieve it.

    • That’s a great first step Jane. But, like you said, there’s still that requirement to lead yourself. What could you do to firm up getting that accountability and making your schedule more firm?

      • That is definitely the question I need to find an answer to.

        • Could it be a weekend to do some soul-searching on it? Hope you can get to the bottom of it soon.

          • You’re right. I need to do that. Try to figure it out. Thanks Joe.

  • Absolutely! If you can’t breath, you can’t help others. Just follow the advice of the airline flight attendants. We lead best when we lead by example.

  • I’ve always believed this Joe. How can you lead others if you can’take first lead yourself?

    • Exactly Leo! I think that’s why we see a lot of bad leaders out there. Agree/disagree?

      • Definitely agree, and one of the reasons I’m passionate about leadership.

  • Bezaye Abakano

    I strongly believe that the only person we can change and control is ourselves . I thought a bible verse which says “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” which demonstrates that a person who discipline, control, lead her/himself is a person greater that one who takes a city. I Cannot see any better way of leading others before leading oneself.

    • I love that scripture Bezaye. It does align well with this post.

  • Shira Garnett

    It starts with us and ultimately ends with us. Yes Joe, I’m in total agreement with this one!