“Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday you leader . . . Happy Birthday to me.”
Today is my 52nd birthday – a year for every week in a calendar year. The other day I was thinking about how birthdays are different as an adult than as a kid. If you are like me, birthdays probably aren’t as big of a deal now as they were then; and perhaps you still get gifts, but probably not as many as you once did. This reflection led me to think about the kinds of gifts we might want to give ourselves, if we are feeling a bit short in the gift department, on our next birthday.
Of course, we could give ourselves things like vacations, or new cars. If you want to do that, go for it – but that isn’t my purpose here. My purpose is for you to think about things you could give yourself that would, in the end, benefit others. So put on your leader hat and consider one or more of these gifts for yourself at your next big day.
Give yourself a great book. Make this one about a topic you are personally interested in. Don’t buy the one “everyone is talking about” (at least not because everyone is talking about it), or the one “everyone needs to read” (unless you really do). Pick something that interests you, that won’t really be a chore to pick up and read, even if you aren’t a reader. Regardless of the topic, as you read it, consider what insights you can take from it in your leadership role. I guarantee that if you read with that thought, you will garner leadership ideas while you enjoy the book on its own merits. Consider it a double gift.
Give yourself a break. You can’t be perfect, so stop trying to be. You can’t know all the answers, so stop pretending you do. I am not saying you shouldn’t have high expectations for yourself and that you shouldn't set a high bar for your work. I am saying that you are human. In the end you will lead more effectively as a genuine fallible human than as a person pretending (or trying) to be perfect. You will make mistakes. Give yourself permission to notice, admit and learn from them. After all, that is what you want others to do, isn’t it?
Give yourself a coach. The best performers at any skill or endeavor have a coach. Do you? If you want to give yourself the gift of higher job satisfaction, lower stress and frustration, and great success, get a coach. Your coach could be someone you hire, a colleague who has a skill or habit you would like to emulate, or anyone who can give you feedback and hold you accountable. Perhaps you have a leader or someone else who fulfills this role for you. If so, great, you can cross this one off your personal gift list.
Give yourself a great learning experience. In the end your leadership development belongs to you – it is not the responsibility of your organization or your supervisor to provide you these opportunities. If you want to be more effective, why not give yourself a chance to practice and improve your skills? Ask your leader for an opportunity, or open your own wallet and invest in your future.
Give yourself an hour a week. This is my favorite of the five gifts and all it requires is desire and discipline. As a leader (and a human being), give yourself an hour a week, to think. to reflect, to read, to meditate, to plan, to learn.
If you will find an hour a week for this important work, I will nearly guarantee greater results in virtually every area of your life. You will benefit and you will love the recurring gift you are giving yourself. I know, you think you can’t find that hour, but you can. Maybe it’s a little less TV, a little less Facebook, or perhaps just a bit less sleep one day a week. Whenever that hour can be found, you will be glad you found it.
I know it is my birthday, but you don’t even have to wait for your birthday to give yourself one of these gifts.
Pick one. Give that gift to yourself.
You deserve it.

Author's Bio: 

Join leaders from around the world as a member of the Remarkable Leadership Learning System. This system includes two complimentary months of that unique system as part of Kevin Eikenberry's Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever today at http://MostRemarkableFreeLeadershipGiftEver.com.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can learn more about him and a special offer on his newest book, Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a time, at http://RemarkableLeadershipBook.com/bonuses.asp .