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  • Writer's pictureJosie Coco

Self-Mastery is the Essence of True Leadership

True leaders emerge by default. Those leadership qualities are derived from a commitment to self-mastery.

As we continually grapple with seeking or creating worthy leaders we occasionally have the privilege to witness true leadership in action. Suzanne Moore commented in The Guardian as she observed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in her leadership role recently.

Self-mastery is the essence of true leadership

Dr. Wesley Payne McClendon’s article, Business Insider Nov 2018, “7 Questions that will help you find and unlock leader potential within your business”, speaks to the personal qualities that Corporate Australia needs to identify as they restructure in an effort to improve customer experience, and provides a starting place for aspiring leaders.

When we’re speaking of personal qualities, we’re also speaking of personal responsibility for developing those qualities, and that means continued engagement in personal development work.

Self-mastery develops from knowing ourselves deeply and honestly.

It's not just about our strengths and our competence for the position of influence we hold. It's also about our weaknesses, our limitations, and knowledge of our reactions and responses as we meet everyday challenges.

We’re all running an inner operating programme that supports our efforts in the world, and equally, that brings us challenges.

Self-mastery is about mastering that programme. It begins with examining it, knowing it deeply and honestly, and then upgrading it as we discover aspects of that programme that no longer serve us.

You’ll know if you’re still running an old version of your inner operating programme by how calmly you respond to life's circumstances.

As a species we are adept at adjusting to ensure our safety

We are where and who we are because as a species we are able to intelligently adjust to our environment and the situations we find ourselves in, to ensure our safety and ultimately, our survival.

However over time, some of those learned adjustments no longer serve us, and have become habitual. Discovering the adjustments that are passed their use-by date is key.

You’ll know if you’re still running an old version of your inner operating programme by how calmly you respond to life's circumstances. That speaks to your ability to regulate your emotions. However, your body is also responding and adjusting to life and is an excellent indicator.

Consider how your software, your inner operating programme (inner beliefs, expectations, attitudes, emotions, your worldview, themes that regularly show up in your life etc.) and your hardware (your body) work together.You may be experiencing stiffness and perhaps pain in your shoulders if you feel you are “shouldering” too much responsibility for too long.

  • You may feel weak in the knees if you have a lot of suppressed fear

  • You may have a liver that plays up if you carry around a lot of anger, and especially if you try to keep the lid on it

  • Your digestion will be an ongoing challenge if you find yourself worrying too much

  • Your nervous system will be wired and reactive if you experience a lot of uncertainty

  • You may experience lower back pain if you’re concerned with your ability to provide security and stability

  • and pain between your shoulder blades may trouble you if you’re holding onto a lot of sadness

This is just a few of the tell-tail signs in very general terms, as of course, we are unique individuals, and so are our symptoms.

7 Benefits that only self-mastery will deliver

  1. You will move beyond fear-based, negative emotional reactions such as procrastination, self-doubt, lack of clarity, self-sabotage, indecision and more. Move passed feeling stuck and into thriving. You’ll begin to make the progress that you’re seeking. You’ll experience more self-satisfaction, and will become recognised and acknowledged for your reliability and integrity.

  2. Clarity about your core values will ensure your choices always support you. You may discover that many of your core values are not actually yours, but ones that others thought were a good idea in the past, and it worked for you to adopt them at that time. Now you have the opportunity to choose values that have more meaning to you. Clarity of your own core values ensures that you align with organisations that mirror them. Only then will you be able to step up as a strong and loyal advocate for those organisations.

  3. You’ll develop discernment to recognise inauthentic situations quickly before you get caught up in them. Discernment is a quality that develops when we are able to overcome those fear-based reactions. It will enable you to judge what is aligned with your true, considered core values, and will be the platform from which your energy, enthusiasm and commitment to your leadership roles will rise.

  4. You’ll more easily make decisions that are in alignment with your values. Once you have determined those values that truly have relevance to you, and have embedded new behaviours in support of them, you will become decisive and purposeful with ease in all of your roles.

  5. You will readily access empathy and compassion for yourself and others. You’ll recognise strengths and weaknesses in others as a consequence of your own inner enquiry. Consequently you will be aware of the other’s inner struggles, and be recognised for the way you naturally lead with motivation and collaboration, empowering others as you exercise your humanity in all situations.

  6. You’ll develop the personal autonomy to take control over the direction of your life and choices. You will feel your inner strength and lead with certainty from an inner core of self-confidence. You will become a competent and purpose-driven leader, and an asset to any organisation that aligns with your values.

  7. You will spontaneously have the RIGHT WORDS and the RIGHT ACTIONS at the RIGHT TIME and the RIGHT PLACE.

When you reach this point of self-mastery, of true self-leadership, your charisma will naturally shine through, and you will become a role model for all those who connect with you.

Your influence is magnified as you act authentically from certainty.

You are no longer affected by others opinions or expectations. You’ll approach your work with intention, focus and clarity. You are the leader of your own life and an exemplary role model.

Choose the support you need to develop your own process towards self-mastery, which will include a concise and simple process to use to support your self-reflection, and a nurturing process to support you when those inevitable meltdowns occur. It’s very helpful to work with a therapist to support you over the difficult hurdles.

(This article first published on Linked In)


Access to the right words, the right actions at the right time and the right place. The NEW best version of YOU is about SELF-MASTERY.

I’m a Well-being and Self-Mastery Mentor and Certified BodyTalk Practitioner. You are welcome to seek more information here. If you're ready to learn to live fully with ease and grace, let's talk. Make a time here to discuss your immediate concerns. If I can help you I'll let you know.


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