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  • Writer's pictureA D Ackerman

Self-Leadership: The Key to Unlock Your Full Potential

Composite design showing four photos of people making promises
Composite design copyright © Alice D. Ackerman 2024, all rights reserved

What promises have you made as we start this new year? How many of those will be broken before the year is over? I am not here to judge you or reprimand you, but I am here to continue our conversation on Self-Leadership.

The last two posts from 2023 focused on  some of the ways that I know that you are wonderful, and then some ways in which you may not always feel so wonderful. And, at the end, I mentioned that developing optimal Self-Leadership is the way to make more of the moments in your life reflect your beauty, power, uniqueness, and complexity. I also mentioned that Self-Leadership is necessary before you can optimally lead others--in your job, your family, or any other part of your life.

Those of you who know me well know that I have been in leadership just about all of my adult life. My field of medicine (pediatric critical care) was so young when I joined it, that my very first job out of my fellowship was to start the new division of pediatric critical care at the University of Maryland School of Medicine way back in 1986. In those days, there were very few programs to teach doctors how to lead.

We were expected to learn as we went, with no one to teach us. There were some early programs available (such as the AAMC's program for Women in Medicine, and the AAP also had a leadership program) but at the institutional level you were just expected to BE a leader. If you made mistakes, you were expected to learn from them, but most of all, you were expected to NOT MAKE THEM to begin with. That was a very hard lesson to learn. How do you learn without making at least some mistakes?

Can you imagine a toddler learning how to walk if they never fell down?

So, one of the questions is how do we start the year in a way that will support our development of self-leadership and self-awareness? How do we make sure that we can feel good about who we are, not just about what we are doing.

And, the answer to this question is that to become the best person we can be takes commitment to self-awareness and self-development. And, that brings me back to my favorite topic: Self-Leadership.

And that brings me back to promises: The best promise you can make in 2024 is to commit to becoming the best Self-Leader you can be.

Being the best Self-Leader does not mean making no mistakes. No. The best Self-Leader is a person who is completely human. A person who makes mistakes, and learns from them. A person who supports others who make mistakes. A person who learns to lead themself so they can also lead others (as a colleague, as a parent, as a sibling, or as a manager or boss). The best Self-Leader is able to recognize how to create value for themselves and for others. They are not self-centered, but rather centered on the creation of value for all--value for those around them, value for the earth and all its inhabitants, value for those who mean a lot to them. They teach themselves to add value not just for today, but for the future, and they learn over time how to frame their lives, their thoughts, emotions, and actions in such a way that value sits at the heart of all they do.

As for me, I am doing the work of becoming a better Self-Leader every day. It's not the kind of thing that happens when you snap your fingers, or when you wish it to be so. It's the kind of thing that requires practice and repetition. It requires self-forgiveness when we mess up. It requires a willingness to admit that we are not perfect. In fact, perfection is unattainable. Yet, we can always try to be our best, to do our best, all the while accepting that we will never be perfect in the eyes of the world, or in our own eyes. But we can create value by forgiving ourselves for our imperfections, and we can pat ourselves on the back for trying. We can look forward to the next day and the next, where the potential of creating value will be there. And, we can hold high our heads and walk boldly into this new year with the promise that we will do the best we can to lead ourselves and to lead the others who depend upon us. We will utilize Self-Leadership to unlock our full potential.

That is the promise that is worth making in this new year. It's never too late to commit to the development of your own Self-Leadership. And, it's never too early. No matter how many mistakes we may have made yesterday, today, our spindly legs can figure out how to hold us up for even a few more steps. If we fall, we fall. Every step makes us stronger. Every time we get back up we are learning that we can get back up.

So, promise me that you will promise yourself to develop your Self-Leadership skills in 2024.

You can start by asking yourself the "Central Question"
What choice can I make and what action can I take, in this moment to create the greatest net value?

How you answer that question and the choices you make will start you on the road to value creation and Self-Leadership.

Let me know if you have questions, thoughts, or comments.


Thanks for reading. I value your time and am honored you chose to spend the last few minutes reading this post. I hope it provided value for you. If so, I would appreciate it if you would share it with someone who might also find it of value.

I would love to hear from you. Please connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at  

To add more value to your life, ask yourself this question every day: What choice can I make, and what action can I take in this moment to create the greatest net value? Then take the free VQ (value quotient) assessment to start your journey with Axiogenics, and learn how to consistently play your "A" game.

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