A flight attendant’s job might look simple but I’m sure that it is not. Take, for example, the safety procedures. Each flight the same routine. Listening to a tape the flight attendants show what you need to do in a water landing – or more accurately, a crash. One procedure that reminds me of leadership is the procedure to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. Even when you worry about your elderly neighbor passenger or if you have young kids sitting next to you.

This procedure reminds me a lot of leadership. Often when I first meet with a client they don’t understand that the foundation is leading by example. Leadership starts with you. Then the rest.

How can you ask employees to be engaged when every morning your first thought before getting out of bed is “Two more years and then I can retire!” Or you think every workday – except on Fridays, “Gosh I wish it was Friday.”

Leadership starts with you.

Leading yourself has many pitfalls. As you know, I like to keep things simple so today I’ll give you two pitfalls. If you can overcome these two pitfalls of leading yourself, you’ll go a long way in leadership.

The first aspect is Self-Sabotage.

A quick and often used tool for self-sabotage – ohh, how we love this one – is our self talk. I don’t think that there is an app for recording your self-talk. But if it would be available even I, as a totally non-app person, would buy it. The idea of being able to listen to a recording of what I tell myself would be a shocking experience. I would hear self-blame, anger because of mistakes that I’ve made, words of self-doubt… Do I need to go on? The list is long. The problem is that all that negativity undermines your leadership. It impacts your presence, communication, engagement, and your decisions.

As the self-talk app is not available yet, listen to your self-talk by taking a step back once in a while. Listen and learn. As a leader you will be judged, blamed, and criticized. Others are more than willing to do so. Don’t be one of them. Understand why you made that mistake, learn, and move on.

The second aspect is Complexity.

If you want change, make it simple. If you prefer staying being stuck, focus on the complexity. Humans like to make things complex. And leaders are not an exception. Why?

Guess what. If it is too complex then you don’t have to change. Yes. Complexity is avoidance based on fear. If it’s too complex then change is not an option.

The solution is to make it simple. So simple that you can’t avoid making the first step. It’s so easy. Then change starts.

My request for this week is to watch when you are sabotaging yourself or making things too complex. Watch and learn.