THE BLOG
10/23/2014 04:48 pm ET Updated Dec 23, 2014

Leadership Matters: Never Too Many Leaders

William Andrew via Getty Images

"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better." -- Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States

No one is immune to the need for leadership. There are already too many followers in our world, and the oft-quoted idea that only 1 percent of the population leads the many is actually true. This is not an effective, humane or sustainable paradigm for humankind.

The truth can be confusing, but in our world and in your personal life, even in the smallest of small families, the more leaders there are, the better everything gets.

Because true leaders lead themselves.

You see, the first and only person you really need to lead is you. And if you are not the one leading you, you are following someone who cannot, even if they are the most skillful leader in the world, lead you anywhere except where they want you to go. And where they want you to go is never the optimal place for you.

People make assumptions. They look at you, or listen to you, or even just hear about you, and then they make an unconscious judgment about your potential. We all do this. We limit what is possible for a human being in order to fit their life into our worldview.

"Violence is a personal necessity for the oppressed ... it is not a strategy consciously devised. It is the deep, instinctive expression of a human being denied individuality." -- Richard Wright, Native Son

When the deepest, most authentic parts of ourselves sense the oppression of the labels slapped on us in this world, we unconsciously react. We defend ourselves. We act out. We ruin our lives, and too often, when we finally wake up, we are so far off the track of realizing our dreams that we lose hope, sit down, and turn on the television or grab for the potato chips. Addiction is rampant in our world because people are numbing themselves to the reality that they have lost touch not only with their dreams, but who they actually are.

Leadership is only possible, and in fact it is the natural result, when people work hard on their identity.

It does not matter what goes on around them, true leaders are in control of themselves. There may be chaos in the surrounding universe. They may be under bombardment from exterior forces. But they are protected from it all by self-assurance and self-control. They do not worry about things they cannot control outside their bubble; they focus instead on matters within their power to influence.

Imagine a world filled with people who are focusing on matters within their influence, while they inspire others to do the same. Consider 7 billion people leading themselves to victory each and every day. The entire world could change for the better.

If you want to end poverty, or war, or just stop wasting your own unrepeatable 24 hours, find and nurture your identity. Discover who you are and learn how to lead yourself. It matters more than you can imagine. It will make a profound difference in your life.

It will alter the future of this world. Lead yourself. Others will follow and if they are also self-disciplined people who lead themselves, a revolution of kindness, compassion and success in your life, and the lives of those you lead, is guaranteed.

Identity leaders are competent, capable, confident, and self-aware people who practice self-directed, effective, self-inspired leadership. They are leaders who bring out the best in others, by mindfully cultivating and expressing the best parts of themselves. People must lead themselves before they can even think about leading others.