How I Became a Leader

It’s guest post Monday!  This post is written by Vincent Nguyen who writes about self improvement at Self Stairway. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. If you would like to have a post featured on my site then click here.

I was a follower, once upon a time. No shame in that. I’m not afraid to admit it.

I used to just do whatever the old group would do without any questions asked. There was nothing I could offer them because I was a lowly peasant in the eyes of these great kings.

So I stayed in the background for years.

I watched with admiration as these great leaders in my life won everyone else over. Oh, how young me wished he could follow in their footsteps.

I was quite content as the follower for a few years so it wasn’t an issue for a while. Then one day I thought to myself, “Why am I not a leader too?” So I became one.

The transition from invisible shadow to influential leader figure didn’t happen in the course of one day, month, or even year. It happened gradually and through many years of finding myself, losing myself, then once again finding. It was a painful journey, but I’ve gone out on the other side a million times stronger than Past-Vincent.

Looking back on Past-Vincent I can see how much I’ve grown and it just makes me incredibly excited for Future-Vincent’s arrival. Maybe he’ll be President of the United States. No probably not either; future-Vincent doesn’t like politics. Maybe I’ll be a priest that makes a seven-figure salary from blogging about life.

I find that I am a wonderful leader now and these are the steps I had to take to become Present-Vincent.

Stepping outside of my comfort zone

There were so many things I was deathly afraid of. Other than “Bloody Mary,” the dark, and wetting my bed, there were things that were very much real in the fact that I had to face them everyday.

I didn’t have very many friends after I switched elementary schools and so lunchtime and breaks were miserable. Every day I wasn’t sure where I would hang out or who I’d be with because it was like I wasn’t even there to them.

Then one day I figured it out. I had to step outside of my comfort zone and strike up conversation with the people who seem like strangers.

I think my first closest friend since moving schools hated me before we met. Oh well.

I mustered up the courage to talk to him about the cartoons I watched, the games I played, and the sports I was terrible at. For the first time in years I conversed with someone while having the intent of spending time with him during my free time.

The feeling was overwhelming and the results equally as much.  Many years later and we still keep in touch even while I’m almost 400 miles away, all because I stepped out of my comfort zone.

This taught me a few things about leadership:

1)     Sometimes the things we want require our initiative

2)     Leaders often do things they don’t want to do, but they do it anyway

3)     Action leads to results

A leader needs to step out of his comfort zone and expand it if he wants to be in control of his life.

Learning from my real-life mentors

Although I may be able to count on one hand the amount of leaders in my life, the ones I can count are outstanding.

They all had characteristics worthy of me consciously noting down, so I did. I broke down what made others gravitate towards their authority.

I’ve befriended all of them and emotionally invested in them as they did with me and I learned their secrets. I applied most, if not all of what I’ve noted down and rose up in the ranks as a great leader. Confidence, body language, and even usage of certain words, all things I’ve never thought of before. I absorbed all of this and became a leader myself now with others looking to me for guidance because I emit this aura.

Now I try my best to be a teacher to others as well. A lot of times I’m the teacher to the people who previously were my teachers. It’s an amazing relationship when two people can feed off of each other. This is what makes a great leader, one who isn’t afraid to learn and imitate those greater.

Questions: So what is stopping you from becoming a leader? What boundaries of comfort are you still not willing to cross? Are you willing to seek out the leaders in your life and learn from them? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Thanks for the opportunity to write for you, Dan! :)

  • Learning form other leaders is something I’m always willing to do.

    • It’s something everyone should be willing to do! I find that it’s such an easy way to absorb and learn, but so many people are unwilling! It’s this pride that “I should do everything on my own.”

    • It’s essential!

  • I was lucky or blessed, which ever way you want to look at it. Being the youngest of four siblings and my older brothers being naturally strong and leaders it came to me naturally. How I enjoy to read or hear the journeys of others. We all take different paths, have different natural strengths and weaknesses, but in the end it is the wisdom we learn… It’s what we do with that wisdom that makes a difference in the world.

    • I’m somewhat on the same course. I had great friends who were exactly like your siblings and older brothers. I may not have been the youngest, but I sure was the weakest at one point and now I am arguably the strongest. Thanks for sharing your story, Floyd. Hopefully neither of us forget to spread the wisdom. :)

  • Seems God keeps yelling at me to step out of my comfort zone! Funny thing is, I’m not even sure exactly what “comfort zone” I’m staying in…sounds strange but it’s true. I’m open to moving, if I only knew where to go? God hasn’t revealed that part to me…guess I’ll just have to wait!

    • It’s always good to be willing to go outside of our comfort zones. I’m sure God will reveal it to you soon enough, He might just be preparing you:) Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

      • Preparing me…yeah, I can see that. Thanks Dan.

    • I think it’s something you subconsciously try to hide from yourself. There are tons of moments in my life where I reflect in the future and only realize, looking back, that I had something to fear. The present moment may be much harder to gauge but that is why I try to constantly self-reflect so I can recognize these patterns in the future.

      • You’re on to something…looking back in life I can see things clearer (hind sight is 20/20) but the “right now” isn’t always so easy to grasp. It takes work.

        • I don’t doubt it for a second. Once you recognize these things in hindsight, your “present vision” gets a lot better.

  • Vincent, I love what you say about two people feeding off of each other. It reminds me to some degree, how i relate to some of my mentors. I still learn a great deal from them but I have grown to a place where i can add value to their lives too. it’s an awesome thing!

    • It really is the greatest thing! Not only having a genuine mentor that you love, but the fact that you can help them in return is just a great feeling. Not many people have that special bond! :)

  • That’s the best way to truly lead, stepping out of your comfort zone. You’ll never know truly amazing opportunities that await you!

    • Imagine how little we’d all have if we never stepped out of it. It’s terrifying how many things would never have happened.

    • Your a great example of a person who steps out their comfort zone and does. Keep living the dream bro!

  • ‘ Sometimes the things we want require our initiative’ – This is most certainly true, and on this day it’s close to home, I can just hope that my initiative will pay off!

    It’s wonderful to see how things have worked for you, even though I consider it an important topic, I haven’t consciously studied leadership or learnt the skills that go alongside, but you (along with Dan) have given me some great inspiration to get out there and learn about the valuable skill.

    Thanks for the post, Vincent, and have a great day!

    • It’s all about initiative, Nick! Life doesn’t cater to us and you can’t live passively while expecting great results. If only life was that easy.

      Leadership ties into a lot of different areas of life so it is definitely worth studying. If you study personal development in general, chances are you’ve picked up a few traits of a great leader.

      My pleasure, Nick!

  • So awesome Vincent. This is a great reminder for so many young Leaders, or even older aspiring leaders in their respective fields or among friends. Keep learning and keep growing so that one day your time will come. This is great for others to see and show that it does not happen overnight.

    • I don’t think anything that impacts the world happens overnight. All great leaders are works in progress regardless of how high they are in the eyes of others. Some may be higher than most, but that doesn’t disqualify them from improving even further.

  • “Action leads to results.”

    Something every aspiring leader had best remember.

    Cheers!

    • Every current leader better remember that as well! We all lose ourselves every now and then. It is nobody’s responsibility but our own to hold ourselves accountable for taking action.

    • Great point Trevor. It’s all about action!

  • I actively try to seek relationships with those at a higher level of leadership than I am – which is a fast track to finding your own blind spots and making improvements. I think you are on the right track! Glad to see you on Dan’s blog.

    • The hardest part is finding those relationships because there are leaders out there who don’t feel flattered when you admire them. In contrary, it feeds their ego or it may even insult them. As strange as that sounds, people react differently and some in ways that would confuse you.

      Thanks, Tom. I’m glad to be here as well!

    • Associating with better and more talented leaders is a great habit. It can really help us learn and grow faster! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • I think fear and lack of self belief stops a lot of people from becoming leaders – that held me back for years. You’ve got to have confidence in your own ability – and belief in your vision.

    • Fear stops people from a lot of things, but you are right. Self-confidence is vital in a leader because no leader can feel comfortable guiding others if they don’t feel this spark in themselves. It just doesn’t work that way.

    • I totally agree with you Sue. Those two things hold a lot of people back.

  • Great story, Vincent, about the power of stepping out of our comfort zones. The love of comfort kills many dreams and wastes many lives.

    • Thank you, Loren. Being too comfortable has its disadvantages and people often don’t realize this.

  • Same here Vincent. Sometimes it is the quite ones who grow up to surprise everyone by leading nations and armies.

  • Posts offer useful tips for those that want to become the first leader and better things in their abilities. A few of my friends I would be happy to share them with this article.

    • Glad you found value in the post. Feel free to share this article with anyone you feel might benefit from reading it. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.