My final post of 2016 for strategy+business really hit a chord. It focuses on writing a personal manifesto–a highly individual exploration of what motivates you, how you define success, and what drives your fears. Based on an interview with Michael Hess of Core 6 Management Advisors, the post explains how a manifesto can be more powerful and have greater resonance than the typical list of goals or resolutions:

The manifesto is a tool that he uses with sales managers and salespeople to help them focus on their true personal and professional aspirations as well as what it will take to achieve success.

The genesis for Hess was a collection of quotes and thoughts he had written on Post-its and stuck on his computer monitor. As Hess began to spend less time at his desk, he put all those notes on a sheet of paper, kept folded in his wallet, so that could reflect on them wherever he was. Along the way, he realized what an essential compass these scribbled words had become. They weren’t just notes, they were the fodder for his personal manifesto.

A manifesto is a rigorous written account of where you are, where you would like to be, and why. Unlike New Year’s resolutions, the personal manifesto isn’t tied to the time of year or to specific acts. It is a way to keep yourself focused, thoughtful, and on-track through the ups-and-downs of a busy life. And it can be amended as needed.

A personal manifesto begins with an honest conversation with yourself. That’s not as easy as it sounds; honesty takes work — and guts. It also takes time.

I have been working on my own manifesto. As I note in the post, it isn’t easy and it takes time. However, I have found the work to be both revealing and rewarding. It is an exercise I recommend for anyone who aspires to lead as self-awareness and self-understanding are inextricably linked to leadership success. Give yourself a half-day retreat where you can sit and explore your passion for what animates your life. Appreciate your proficiencies and acknowledge your fears. Get to know yourself a bit better. It’s the first step to being an effective leader.

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