When I first started my career, I would say that I was a hesitant leader.

I didn’t really view myself as a leader. I was riddled with fear and anxiety, suffered from low self-confidence, and preferred to avoid interacting with others.

I started my career as a computer programmer working for one of the big five banks in Toronto, Canada.

Looking back, this was when I was the least self-aware as I would much rather work with computers then interact with others.

What opened my eyes, was my first self-help book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.

After reading this book, I set three primary goals for myself …

Goal #1 – Triple my income – I was making $33K at the time, which was more than my parents combined, and I wanted to hit six-figures.

Goal #2 – Move into a management position – I realized that there were more options open to managers then to individual contributors.

Goal #3 – Find the ideal relationship – I didn’t think it was good to have all professional goals, so to balance things out, this was my number one personal goal.

I planned to achieve these goals in five years.

Over this period, I continued to read, learn and focus on the achievement of these goals.

I’m happy to say that I achieved all of these goals within five years.

I hit the six-figure milestone, was promoted to a management position and ended up getting engaged to my high school sweetheart.

Top 3 Lessons

During this phase of my mindful leaders’ journey, there were three key lessons …

Lesson #1 – Invest In Yourself

I didn’t have any positive role models growing up. My father left when I was seven, and my step-father was verbally abusive.

Both played havoc on my self-confidence, and, surprisingly, I didn’t turn out to be a complete a-hole.

The turning point for me was books.

After reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey, I started inhaling personal development books.

Along with Stephen Covey, my mentors where Anthony Robbins, Tom Peters, Seth Godin, John C. Maxwell, and Robin S. Sharma.

These authors were my mentors and inspired me with their stories, and I took their lessons to heart.

If you happen to be surrounded by people that believe and support you, don’t take this for granted. Listen to what they have to say and figure out how you can apply their knowledge.

And if you don’t have any positive influencers in your life, look beyond your immediate surroundings toward authors, writers, speakers, and course creators.

Lesson #2 – Set Some Goals

For the first 20 or so years of my life, my only goal was to graduate school.

Once I graduated and landed my first job, my life plateaued.

I was a few years into my career, and I remember thinking to myself, “Is this all there is?”.

School work was much harder than my “job” as a computer programmer. I liked what I was doing, but it wasn’t much of a challenge.

It wasn’t until I set my top three goals that I started making real progress.

So if you find yourself stuck, set some goals.

Lesson #3 – Do The Work

Goals don’t magically achieve themselves.

If you don’t make your goals a priority, they will not happen.

You need to do the work.

To achieve my five-year goals, I continued to read, learn, and apply the lessons from my mentors.

I took on projects that would move me toward my goals.

I developed the habits and routines required to get the work done.

I repeatedly stepped out of my comfort zone to develop the self-confidence that I was lacking.

I definitely made mistakes along the way. Looking back, with what I know now, I probably could have achieved these goals a lot faster.

But that wasn’t the point.

I needed to make mistakes, learn the lessons, and develop the mindset required to walk the path of a leader.

Summary

The few steps of walking the path as a mindful leader are really quite simple.

Step 1 – Invest in yourself. Make learning a priority.

Step 2 – Set some goals. Where do you want to be in 3 to 5 years?

Step 3 – Do the work. Complete the projects and build the habits required to achieve your goals.

Do you have a lesson from early in your career that you want to share? Post it in the comment below.

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