coaching personality and story

Creative and connected #11 – on the special value of self-leadership

August 25, 2017

 “Become a scientist of your own experience.”

Elizabeth Gilbert quoting her guru on The Good Life Project


Here’s a round-up of what I’ve enjoyed this week on self-leadership and how we work towards being wholehearted through taking personal action.

My guest post on How To Become The Heart Of Successful Leadership featured recently on It celebrates the art of self-leadership and knowing yourself as a leader. It was based on the recently published book, Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude by Raymond M Kethledge and Michael S Erwin. My personal experience as a leader, introvert, life-long learner and committed autodidact also influenced my thoughts and reflections.

Two key threads underlie Quiet Writing: one is being wholehearted and how we create our stories; the other is self-leadership and how we work towards being wholehearted through taking personal action. The key to taking action and knowing which actions to take are:

  • knowing ourselves and what we value and desire
  • learning to listen to our inner knowing
  • understanding our innate personality, including its strengths and what is challenging for us
  • seeking out, incorporating and acting on influence and inspiration from others.

My thoughts on wholehearted self-leadership stem from being a leader in the workplace and learning from this experience. The leadership of creativity and my impact on others’ ability to be innovative has been a key theme in my life’s work. I’m interested in how this lens can now be applied more broadly so that self-leadership is a way of promoting self-driven approaches to more holistic career and creativity.

The key aspects I have chosen to focus on in Quiet Writing are:

  • Life Coaching – for wholehearted self-leadership
  • Writing – to discover our wholehearted stories and in this how we strive for creative lives and careers
  • Personality assessment and exploration – to be able to explore our personality stories through Jung/Myers-Briggs frameworks and other perspectives to help us in our quest for understanding, accepting and knowing ourselves.

These three threads interweave throughout Quiet Writing. Today, let’s focus on the special value of self-leadership: what it means to me and what’s in the literature about this idea so that we can build on it together.

Podcasts on aspects of self-leadership

It was difficult to find podcasts specifically on this subject. This made me reflect on what self-leadership is and how my listening and reading choices and influences now and over the years are part of self-leadership. How I’ve decided to spend my time, who I’ve decided to engage with and listen to and read and who I’ve decided to learn from and study with – are all part of my self-leadership choices, especially as a self-directed learner.

I wrote many years ago about My Seven Stars and it’s amazing how these stars still influence me today. They have reappeared in critical podcasts this week, with themes that reappear over time. This week seemed to be all about these influences coming together in new ways.

Susannah Conway on Building a Heart-centred Business – on The Priestess Podcast with Julie Parker

This podcast felt like two parts of my world coming together – both centred around building a heart-centred business. Susannah Conway is one of my seven stars from my 2010 post, so I have been connected with her for a long time. I have done just about all of Susannah’s fabulous ecourses and each has been a critical part of my life, especially Blogging from the Heart. She has inspired my notions of building a heart-centred business.

When I made a plan to pursue Life Coaching as a new wholehearted career, I was naturally looking for a program aligned to my goals of being heart-centred. It was such a thrill to find Julie Parker and the Beautiful You Coaching Academy. I have just finished this life-changing program and am now a Beautiful You Life Coach working with clients. To hear Susannah and Julie talk together on this podcast – their first chat together – about building a heart-centred business was amazing. It’s a fabulous example of self-leadership in action as they follow their hearts in business. And it’s not with a business plan, but with a passion and desire to make a difference and connect authentically with people.

Curiosity and the Passion Fallacy – Elizabeth Gilbert on Jonathan Fields’ The Good Life Project

Jonathan Fields is another person I’ve followed for many years. He is a big fan of the examined life and what makes a good life. Elizabeth Gilbert is another major influence on writing and creativity and especially how we can give ourselves permission and take charge. This conversation was full of gems about self-leadership in life and creativity and especially the role of curiosity and learning. I love the quote that heads this post that Elizabeth cites as advice from her guru: “Become a scientist of your own experience.” I love that thought of having self-compassion as we learn and not beating ourselves up too much as we try new things on our journey. I need to listen to this one again with a notebook in hand.

Feels like the first time – on Personality Hacker with Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge

Knowing our personality type and its strengths and challenges is a key part of Quiet Writing. That’s why I’ve gained certification in personality assessment given the impact that knowing more about my personality type had on me. It was another life-changing step on my self-leadership journey. On the Personality Hacker podcast, Joel and Antonia talk about their recent experience of learning more about their personality and how, even as experts in this space, it felt like the first time. They talk about how we can resist integrating parts of our personality and that it may take time to absorb the information, especially for the more challenging aspects. This podcast highlights how learning about yourself is an ongoing and open-ended adventure which can be so enlightening.

How to be a writer: traditional publishing to indie and hybrid – with John Birmingham on The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn is another of my seven stars and not a week goes by when I don’t learn something from her! So much of being an indie author is about self-leadership and self-learning. This chat with Australian author, John Birmingham, was a fantastic insight into the publishing industry. It shows how, even for experienced full-time writers, indie publishing offers a self-directed alternative that puts control and resources back in the author’s hands. It’s an honest and fascinating account of how John Birmingham took himself through this shift to being hybrid for practical reasons. Great to hear an Aussie voice on the show too!


Lead Yourself First

Books and reading notes

My reading week

In line with my recent post on reading more productively and the accountability here, I’ve been reading a few books concurrently. I’m reading Sharon Blackie’s If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging in hard copy and also Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis by Helen Bynum as an ebook. Both very different reads, but fascinating in their own way.

I’ve also been listening to Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No Luck Required Guide to Self-publishing Success) by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant with David Wright, as an audiobook. The authors make their living as full-time indie authors and tell you how they did it and make money from it. And yes, there’s a lot of self-developed knowledge and self-leadership in there – including a heap of mistakes they’ve learnt from. There’s a lot of swearing and honest fun in this practical book based on years of experience.

I’ve also been really hard at work reading my own ebook ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’ as I prepare to send it out into the world to Quiet Writing subscribers! There’s been so many practical stumbling blocks and so much learning as I go through my own first self-publishing journey. My plan is to launch on 3 September so make sure you sign up to Quiet Writing so you can receive it!

Book and blog notes on this week’s theme of self-leadership

First mention goes to the fabulous ‘Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude‘ by Raymond M Kethledge and Michael S Erwin. Reading this book intensively over a weekend as for the guest post, How to Become the Heart of Successful Leadership, was a deep, immersive read on the aspects of self-leadership at the heart of being a successful leader. This was something I had long known and felt myself, as the post explains. This book really helped to understand these aspects of self-leadership in a new and thorough way.

Based on case-studies of leaders and interviews with contemporary leaders, it is full of grounded advice on managing the self as the first step in leading others. It’s about how people need solitude to be clear and in touch with themselves as they lead. And it’s not just about introverts; the case study examples show that extraverts also need to check in with themselves through solitude especially in challenging leadership circumstances. I highly recommend this excellent book. More in my guest post – so hop over to and have a read!

To be honest, the idea of self-leadership has been with me for quite a while. It was there before I read ‘Lead Yourself First’ and before I found anything online about it. It emerged from my own thinking and experiences, especially ‘wholehearted self-leadership’ as a central focus of Quiet Writing.

It’s been interesting to see what is already out there about self-leadership. So here’s a snapshot of some information.

Self Leadership International which provides the definition:

Self-leadership is having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, where you are going coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviors on the way to getting there.

The article What is self-leadership reinforces the central role of self-leadership in leadership and making a difference. The article postulates that self-leadership begins with self-awareness and self-management then shifts to awareness and management of others.

Derek Lauber provides 8 principles in The zen of self-leadership, based on the premise that:

Self-leadership is your ability to masterfully lead yourself so you can create the success you want for yourself, your family, your business and your life.

In Self-leadership and success, Brett Steenbarger’s thoughts are most in line with what I am thinking about. He says:

Think of your life as a diversified organization. You are in the business of living….

When you think about it, you are the CEO of a rather diversified enterprise. Any such business requires capable leadership.

His key message is that:

Self-leadership begins when we stop prioritizing tasks and start prioritizing the elevated state in which we are most productive.

This is very valuable advice! I see our personal productivity as a key piece in being positive self-leaders.


Blog/Twitter/Instagram posts and interactions:

A favourite blog read this week was Nicole Cody’s post on healing stones and their energies, something I am exploring more. I sought out a few key stones this week that were calling me: amethyst, citrine, black tourmaline, amazonite and carnelian.

On Instagram, there’s been plenty of activity around Susannah Conway’s The August Break focused around noticing, community and inspiration. My photo for ‘silver’ this week featured the shimmering waters of the beach beckoning me. I haven’t been there as much as I would like and need to get back after being unwell. One thing I’ve learnt about self-leadership is that self-care and exercise is a huge part of it! I need to honour this.


On Quiet Writing and Tarot Narratives

On Quiet Writing, it was busy behind the scenes as I worked on my 36 Books ebook. I also prepared for our next ‘Wholehearted Stories’ post on Monday in partnership with the author. I can’t wait to share this beautiful story with you from a very special guest blogger.

My Tarot Narratives on Instagram have continued to be a rich source of inspiration and insight for my journey. Thanks for all the creative interactions. It was so lovely to celebrate the arrival of Lisa McLoughlin’s Life Design Cards along with my healing stones this week. It’s a deck focused on tools and practices for self-leadership and ‘weaving a different story’. It was lovely when #28 ‘Enjoy the lush and flourishing’, popped up to say hello with the message:

Through the simplest of pleasures, be more present to the warmth, colourfulness and juiciness of life. What is holding you back from making pleasure a priority?”

Indeed. It’s a good time for getting unstuck in many ways.

Have a fabulous creative weekend!

Life Design Cards

Creative and Connected is a regular post each Friday and the previous posts are below. I hope you enjoy it. I would love any feedback via social media or comments and let me know what you are enjoying too.

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You might also enjoy:

Creative and Connected #9 – on the art and love of reading

Creative and Connected #8 – ways to honour your unique life blend

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