Behavior is often harder to change than acquiring knowledge of what to do. Many of us know what we should do but struggle in the doing of it. Unlike a machine that can be programmed to do a task and repeat it the same way each time, we are human. It often requires tremendous effort on our part to exercise personal leadership. King Solomon wisely observed that “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32.

So how are we doing ruling our own spirit? How would those who know us best, characterize our exercise of personal leadership on the whole? How well do we recover when we respond poorly? A respected colleague of mine recently reminded me to say out loud, “that is not like me” or “that is not who I am” when I act in a way that is inconsistent with how I desire to behave. These simple statements can serve to remind myself and others that this is not how I expect to conduct myself in the future. Many times this will be all that is needed for an apology and to self-correct my own behavior. For more grievous offenses given, I may need to seek forgiveness and offer to make things right. Then I move on, seeking to rule well my own spirit.

Exercising personal leadership and accountability has helped me in both my private and professional life. I find that life with others is more fun and rewarding this way.