Before anyone can reach his full potential as a leader, he must first be a leader to himself. He must capitalize on innate talents and strengths, challenge the habits that hinder his growth and manage the fears and negative emotions that frequently keep him from realizing his goals.

As you know, our minds function in two distinct spaces-conscious and subconscious thought. Our ant is the intentional part of the brain-houses our critical, analytical thoughts. Our elephant, however, is the instinctual, impulsive part of the brain-it houses emotions and memories and even guides the body to perform its vital functions. While we tend to know our conscious minds-or ants-rather well, we often overlook the power of our elephantine subconscious minds. Unfortunately, when we do, we squander a wellspring of human potential.

Imagine a tiny ant on the back of a massive African elephant. No matter how diligently that ant marches east, if the elephant he sits upon travels in the opposite direction, the ant will end up even farther west than his starting point. Similarly, we will find ourselves receding from our goals if our conscious and subconscious minds are not aligned. What elephant-like aspects of our personalities hold us back from meeting challenges? How do our emotions get in the way of our ability to act and communicate effectively? What does it truly mean to commit to realize a dream?

A good leader may recognize that he indulges elephant-like habits that keep him shy of his goal-but a great leader does something about it. He confronts the behaviors and routines that keep his subconscious stuck. He works to refashion deep-seated beliefs, attitudes and truths so that they support his conscious efforts. The great leader conquers his hidden fears, antes up and makes an emotional investment in his vision to show others the way to success.

Tip from The Ant and the Elephant

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