Do not turn into a fainting goat (seen here) when frightened, excited, or challenged. Why? If you cannot lead yourself through the minefield of your own emotions (a challenge we all face) then quite frankly, you haven’t earned the right to lead others. Self-leadership is a first and constant requirement for being a great leader.
In July, Marion Bartoli won the women’s Wimbledon Championship. If you’ve ever seen Marion play, then you know that “odd” is a good descriptor for her approach to the game. She kangaroo leaps between points, never bounces the ball before serving, and has a variety of other unorthodox behaviors. She isn’t built like a typical athlete. Never seen her before? Watch the first 90 seconds of this training video, and you’ll see why a famous BBC commentator made disparaging remarks about Marion’s win at Wimbledon. He basically said that Marion’s father probably informed Marion that a Miss America title was not in her future, so she’d better work hard at tennis. (Never mind that she’s French and has an IQ of about 170).
Naturally, this incident created its own public firestorm.
How did Marion react? Admirably. She didn’t turn into a fainting goat. She reportedly shrugged her shoulders (as only the French can do) and calmly agreed. “I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a modeling contract? No. I’m sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes. And to share this moment with my dad was absolutely amazing and I am so proud of it.”
We can learn from Marion. Stay focused on you. Stay focused on your dreams (and don’t let anyone define them for you!) Pursue them with passion and ignore any detractors, naysayers, or folks who would be gravity to your orbit. When faced with the inevitable, unexpected criticism or attack, remain strong. Don’t be a fainting goat because all that does is prove that you are not ready to lead yet. It undermines others’ confidence in you.
Self-leadership takes practice – and we’re going to talk a lot more about it because I have some ideas and tools that can help us all be a lot more like Marion. And you won’t faint – I promise! (That thud you just heard was not me hitting the ground.)