I am a full time student because I feel the need to get the right qualifications for the job I want.

I am a part time worker because I need an income to buy the things I want, to hangout with the people I like, and to travel to the places I want.

I am full time AIESECer because I love the culture, the environment, the friends made here and the endless opportunities.

I used to feel that my life was filled with things to do and always not having enough time; not enough time to slow down and think about who I am, what I care about, and what I have learnt from my previous experiences.

Is your life similar to mine?

After taking up a few roles in AIESEC, I felt that I had everything it takes to lead a team. I felt that I had what it takes to give team members a valuable experience while achieving an ambitious goal together. I realized I was wrong. It’s not only about the experiences I had or the skills I have learnt through these experiences. I lacked something — something some would call the inner journey of a leader.

What is the inner journey of a leader? This is part of what I think it might be:

Everything you will ever do as a leader is based on one audacious assumption. It’s the assumption that you matter. Before you can lead others you have to lead yourself and believe that you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe that your words can inspire and your actions can move others. You have to believe that what you do counts for something. If you don’t, you won’t even try. Leadership begins with you.

The quest for leadership, therefore, is first an inner quest to discover who you are and what you care about, and it is through this process of self-examination that you find the awareness needed to lead. Self-confidence is really the awareness of and faith in your own powers, and these powers become clear and strong only as you work to identify and develop them. The mastery of the art of leadership comes with the mastery of the self, and so developing leadership is a process of developing the self.

Often a time, my daily life is moving at such a fast pace that I didn’t pause to reevaluate or reflect who I am, what matters to me the most, and what I think my purpose in life is.

Mastery of self is not something we can complete in one go. It is something we have to keep doing. We need to keep on discovering ourselves, and consciously develop ourselves. In the end, I learnt that what I am still lacking in becoming a better leader is to consciously develop the “Mastery of Self”.

I have started to think about my inner journey. How about you?

By Fonsey Foo

Cross-posted with permission from Fonsey Foo