Leading Your Own Life

In 2019, when we hear the word “leadership” or “leader” how many of us think about personal development? Do we think about how we plan to lead our own lives first or do we immediately think of the day where we are finally able to pioneer that new movement or initiative? Before I came to American University and joined the College of Arts and Sciences Leadership & Ethical Development (CAS LEAD) program community, my understanding of leadership was rather limited to the idea that it required an official role for me to fill. It hadn’t occurred to me that the most profound exemplification of ethical leadership relied on an ability to look within myself. 

This in no way suggests that one’s leadership style and approach should fully center on self. In fact, I’ve witnessed that a consistent commitment to self-growth has the linear effect of impacting, serving, and influencing others. Leaders should be amazing, genuine people, right? Well, I’ve found that my daily life affirmations, a morning routine, and even using my iPhone notepad app (yes my iPhone notepad) have improved the way that I lead.

Revisiting the early days of my college experience, I would wake up fatigued to the sounds of my 50 alarms. I began my days scrolling through social media for about 15 minutes before I even attempted to jump out of bed. I know many of you relate. To make a long story short, the fall semester of my senior year I suffered from severe burnout. Over the Christmas break off from school, I thought to myself “As a pre-med student, yes college can be hard but something has to change. There has to be something that I can do!” I opened the notepad app on my iPhone and began to type out a list of activities that made me happy. I remember seeing people who I had greatly admired online share about the power that they cultivated from creating their own daily morning routine. I gave this much thought, as I know I was setting a precedence that fueled how I tackled the rest of each day. 

I began starting my days implementing the recitation of life affirmations, stretching, praying, drinking herbal teas, and becoming lost between a few pages of my current read. The infinite list of obligations that filled the day became seemingly more bearable because they were followed by a routine that renewed my spirit. I found that creating this routine has made me more present and grounded. More importantly, it has truly made me more confident in all that I am and all that I am becoming. 

For a complete breakdown of my morning routine please see a screenshot below:

Repeat these life affirmations after me…

1. I have a powerful voice and it’s important to use it. 
2. I am capable, worthy, and preparing for my wildest dreams. 
3. Today, I will strive to be the best version of myself. I will make tons of mistakes and sometimes I’ll be abundantly blessed with success. I am evolving. God isn’t done with me yet. 

Know that your story, talents, ideas, and experiences are valid. Share them with the world. Anything that life throws at you, you can handle because you’re prepared and built for far worst. You deserve the best that life has to offer you, not just because you work hard but especially because you have. Know that perfection doesn’t breed creativity, imperfection does. So don't strive for perfection. Embrace all that you are not. Your purpose has already been written. 

To think that this simply started as an idea that I wrote down in my iPhone notes app reveals that the most fundamental lesson about leadership doesn’t have to be some revolutionary act or change that you perform. All your great ideas have to go somewhere, so what better way to foster them than by designating a space for it. You don’t need an iPhone to do this, grab an old half-empty notebook, walk around with it, and start jotting your best ideas down. My writing blog and CAS LEAD’s newly created People of Color affinity group were ideas that began in my iPhone notes. These changes seem so simple, right? Well, it took me 4 years to get it right. So, I’m hoping it doesn’t take you as long. 


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