(before, during and after leading others)

Why is self-leadership critical before, during, and after leading others?

  1. You’ll become a much better leader.

  2. You’ll have much better mental health.

  3. Your team(s) will have much better mental health.

Did you know that approximately 66% of workers experienced burnout on the job? — Gallup global analytics

Back in 2016 I ‘adulted’ to such an unsustainable level that I experienced stress-induced clinical depression with ‘protective’ psychosis. I was hospitalised for my own safety. I did not have the mental health or brain capacity to realize that the choices and behaviors I’d made in the years prior to this disruptive episode would result in a life-changing; almost life-ending outcome.

In hindsight:

I did not practice self-leadership.

I did not practice self-care.

I did not focus on serving others, including myself.

I ended up simply going through the motions of an untenable and unfulfilling lifestyle until my mind and body could cope no more. It broke down. I broke down.

Now, I’ve learned from my past mistakes, rebuilt strength, and doing my best to help others to not make the same serious blunders. It’ll save you so much valuable time and heartache.

Being of service to others is massively important for leadership. But, what’s most important is creating a solid foundation of self-service and self-leadership so that you can effectively and sustainably serve others for the long-term.

Ok, now, how?

1 Self-Awareness

Practice improving your self-awareness skills

Observe the observer.

Create a daily habit allocating just five minutes to simply sitting with yourself and doing the following:

  1. Thinking – who are you?

  2. Detaching – from yourself, from your ego. Practice separating ‘you’ from your thoughts (the answer to 1)

  3. Observing – with non-attachment. See your ‘self’ from above. Zoom out so that you’re observing: imagining your physical body from a beautiful perspective on the moon. Yes, the moon.

Remember: you are not your thoughts. You are so much more, and then some! Repeat the cycle 1–2–3 for three rounds. Stick with it. Admittedly it’s not easy. Although, anything worth doing usually isn’t.

You’ll improve your awareness by practicing OTO (Observing The Observer) Bring self-awareness to your particular use of language, visuality, physicality. Respectively, how you hear your inner voice; see your mind’s eye; and feel your body will determine a current level of self-awareness.

2 Feedback-looping

Practice real-time feedback-looping Apply what you’ve discovered from your answers to 1 (Practising improving your self-awareness skills) to other areas of your day so that you allocate consistent time slots of five minutes throughout a 24 hour period.

This is when you’ll check-in with yourself again to observe the observer. Complete at least three cycles of 1–2–3 (Thinking, observing, detaching)


Because it will help you pause and reset in real-time and then carry on with your great day – reenergised

Remember: life is non-linear, even though everything may feel and look linear. In reality, with this feedback loop you’ll be able to measure where you actually are; mentally and physically. Applying strategies and unique solutions that will certainly help you to improve self-awareness.

In order to improve self-leadership so that you become a stronger leader for yourself and others; for powerful mental health; to reduce the potential problem of burnout: practice daily O.T.O’s (Observing The Observer)

Do daily feedback-looping to measure where you’re really at.

Self-leadership is critical before, during, and after leading others because you’ll build an almost unbreakable foundation transcending linear time; past, present, and future.

If you’re interested in delving deeper and potentially learning more please go ahead and ask a question here

Thank you for reading, Adam Bowcutt Mental Health Author

There’s only one growth strategy: work hard -William Hague

Strategy builds confidence, because you have a solid framework and action plan of what to do and, more importantly, what not to do. With clarity comes power, and with power is strength. You’ll gain mental strength, because you’ll know exactly what you’re focused on and why.

It’s like a pilot plotting a course to their destination. Careful and strategic planning is considered before take-off. Safety, weather, weight, fuel, and other variables come into play. For example, a pilot is skilled in the technical aspects of flying a plane. She is also skilled in map-reading, leadership, and collaborating with her team, especially the air traffic controllers. Once the plane is airborne after a successful take-off, the captain must now manage and control the plane to get

all passengers to the agreed destination safely and in good time. All of a sudden, there’s a faint shudder, and the aircraft tilts violently, with no warning. What happened?

Now to ensure the safety of all four hundred passengers, the captain must

adapt to a potentially life-threatening situation with calmness, speed, and


Strategic thinking is all about using the power of your mind to execute your

Strategy. ‘What is my strategy?’ you ask. Patience, my friend. We’ll get to

that. But first, let’s go back to our captain, piloting the 300,000 kg flying

chunk of metal hurtling through the sky at 900 km/h. What is going through our pilot’s mind? Panic? No. If this captain panics and loses control of her thoughts, four hundred humans’ lives are at risk of being lost too. So now is the time to see if the strategy works in reality. All the years of training, flight school, leadership skills, growth mindset, and technical mastery comes into play. This is it.

In a calm and controlled manner, our captain makes a critical assessment of

the situation in the most effective way she knows. I leave the technical details

to your imagination. Then our composed pilot delivers a clear message to the

passengers: ‘Hello, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. What you just

experienced was a result of a small foreign body entering one of our engines.

I’m here to reassure you that everything is going to be okay and it’s under

control. You may feel some unfamiliar movements of the plane. Please do

your best to remain calm. Our highly trained flight attendants are here for

you, as am I. Thank you for choosing to fly with ...’ You get the story.

Now the story ends successfully, with our courageous pilot flying the plane to

the nearest landing strip by following emergency protocol. You see, it’s all

part of the strategy.

Turns out a griffon vulture had flown directly into one of the jet engines! It

was a serious emergency situation. With leadership, critical thinking,

calmness of mind, training, and execution of a strategy, our captain literally

saved four hundred lives from death.

The importance of strategic thinking cannot be underestimated.

How will you incorporate strategic thinking into your daily life?


Thinking strategically is massively important because it helps you open your mind in thinking of a way that is more likely for you to reach your goals connected to your core values. So in a sense, it’s a way of thinking by zooming out and observing the observer. You are the observer. You’re thinking about your environment, in your environment. However, when you begin to think strategically and practise strategic thinking, you begin to observe the observer. You can look and think from a different perspective, which in turn will help you realise that thinking strategically is beneficial not only for yourself but also other people. So it’s a practice. The more you practise, the better you will become.


An influential aspect of strategic thinking involves your goals, what you will do?

SMART goals

S is for specific.

M is for measurable.

A is for attainable.

R is for relevant.

T is for time-sensitive.

Smart goals enable you to be specific about your goals. It’s highly likely

you’ll be able to achieve them, because you have clarified exactly what your

goals are, and clarity is power.

Now write down your goals on a piece of paper. Writing on a piece of paper

ensures 80 percent of retention, so your goal starts to act yourself into your

mind and your psyche. Once you’ve done this, you can create your strict

action plan by thinking strategically. So start to purposefully write the following letters on a clean sheet of paper or simply type them up on your smartphone or laptop.

S _______

M ______

A ______

R _______

T _______

Why do you want to achieve this one smart goal?

Why is it important to you?

Then write it down.

For me, the most important purpose for my goal is, one of my goals is to spend quality time with my son, Zachary. That’s my purpose. My purpose is to spend quality time with my son, because my values are family, love, and spending time with my son. Time is more valuable than money and two children. Love equals time, time spent with them.


Then you write your results. What results do you want? Be specific. For

example, I would like to spend two hours every other day with my son

outside in nature. Be as specific as possible, and then you can write one to three results—specific results—you want to achieve. Then you write your

purposeful action plan. So what specific actions are you going to take with respect to purpose and results you want to achieve? What actions are you going to take? For example, schedule time in your calendar at 4 p.m. I’m going to spend time between 4pm and 6pm. I’m going to pick my son, Zachary, up from the daycare. I’m going to go and play football with him in the park for two hours. That’s the action plan.

You can create one to three actions that you’re going to take, then from those actions, you can break them down into priorities. You can prioritise the action, to most important meeting and least important, and then you can categorise them into two times. Then you can schedule them. What gets scheduled gets done.

Thinking strategically is massively important to reaching your goals. Use your SMART goals to realise your strategy. Execute your strategy to get to your goals, whether they are short-term or long-term, and they’re really purposeful and important to you. By thinking strategically, it increases your motivation—relentless motivation—and increases your energy. And energy is awesome.


When you think strategically, it’s massively powerful in how you create your

reality, your personal reality, and your personality. It improves focus, because you’re focused on where you want to go, what you want to do with your life. Your daily life for your entire life. This includes, business, relationships, and financially. Clarity is power. So what is strategy, and what is thinking strategically? It’s opening your mind to a way of thinking about how you’ll get to where you want to go. What you will do and what you won’t do determines your long-term strategy. It’s a dynamic action plan focused on a long-term future outcome or result.

Ask yourself these questions:

What’s most important to you?

What are your core values?

Where do you want to be in five years’ time or even ten years’ time or


Building a foundational structure helps you plan out your strategy, what you

will and won’t do. Here’s an analogy. An aircraft and pilot leave the airport.

They know the coordinates. They know where they need to get to, and know

their destination. Beforehand, they have a strategy and a goal. There are

various situations and variables. For example, the weather. The weather could

change. For example, slight adjustments need to be made during the process,

so the pilot might have to adjust the route slightly. However, he’ll still get to

the destination, being adaptable and making slight adjustments, focusing on

the process to enable the outcome to happen which is the destination. Benjamin Franklin said ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’, so make sure you have a great plan in place by thinking strategically about what you can do. Once you’ve answered your questions honestly and authentically, you can reverse-engineer an action plan, your dynamic action plan, your strategy. Work backwards, say, in five years’ time, four years, three years, two years, one year, up until today. Then you’ll have a great framework to execute your plan.


Start to meditate. Meditating regularly gives your mind and body a gap of

time and space, some space and time to connect with who you are, your

mind, and your body, and it really helps you zoom out of all the noise, of all the chatter that’s going on in the world, in your world, and all the

distractions. This helps you refocus and gain balance in mind. It helps

creative thinking and being able to execute your strategy.

Thinking strategically is massively important in realising your life goals by implementing a dynamic action plan with what you will do and what you won’t do, connected to your values and goals. Have fun with it and be patient and enjoy the process.

Three challenges for you:

1. Meditate for two minutes in silence, focusing purely on your

breath, simply inhaling and exhaling. If thoughts come to you,

racing thoughts, observe them and let them be. Imagine your

thoughts are wispy clouds that are moving across the sky with a

gentle breeze.

2. Think of a creative idea. Think of a random object. Do your best

to connect two seemingly random ideas together. To create a new

idea, write down on a piece of paper two random items that come to

mind. For example, it could be a banana and a cloud. Then think of

an idea from those two items.

3. Think of your last argument with someone. It could have been a

colleague, or it could have been a family member or partner. Think

about how it made you feel, and then think in hindsight about how

you could have implemented a strategy. How you could’ve thought

strategically to create a better outcome for both parties to create a

win–win outcome. Write it down. It’s one for your archives.

Thank you for reading!

Adam Bowcutt

Please feel free to also read: 5 Simple Ways to Become More Creative; Boost Confidence & Add Value

Adapted from Confide: The New Psychology of Confidence. How to Power Up after Experiencing Depression

Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics — Victor Pinchuk

Releasing creativity empowers you to shift from consumer to creator. Once you begin to create value you will begin exchanging this value for money. It’s a resource to use as you choose. We could all dedicate more energy to increase our creativity, because humans need to create things. It’s part of human nature; it’s part of who we are.

Did you know that daydreaming provides a mental incubation period, enhancing creative thinking, long-term planning, and self-awareness

I used to daydream regularly when I was younger. My mind would wander. I imagined scenarios that were so much fun. But I felt guilty because I was supposed to be in reality when I was imagining and creating, daydreaming in my mind. Being guilty is a waste of your mental resources, I have found. Now without any guilt, with confidence, and in the excitement, I regularly daydream. Daydreaming is a way to practise releasing creativity. Let your mind wander.

1. Schedule regular daydreaming sessions every single day, and you’ll start to discover how creative you really are. Then write down what you daydream about. This way, you will start to practise releasing your creativity, therefore empowering you to shift from consumer to creator.

You’ll start to imagine and use your powerful imagination to think of ideas, new ideas that could provide great value to yourself and other people. Personally and commercially.

Also, focus on your five senses whilst daydreaming. Touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing. So in turn think about at least two things connected to each sense. For example, touch two things nearby. It could be a cup of water. It could be a pen. Then move to taste. Drink a glass of water and taste a juicy green apple. Then smell what two things your sense of smell detects. Now sight. What things immediately draw your eyes’ attention? Hearing. What two things are you hearing right now?

You are releasing creativity by scheduling daydreaming sessions and focusing on your five senses and not being guilty about daydreaming. You’ll provide your imaginative mind and your powerful unlimited imagination with an important incubation period, therefore releasing creativity and empowering you to shift from consumer to creator.

You will create. You are creative.

You’ll be able to create value, which can be exchanged for money. Have you ever thought about starting your own business? Think of the possibilities!

Releasing creativity is a critical part of building confidence with respect to your psychology. Confidence and psychology relates strongly to creativity. Being creative and practising creativity in releasing your creative potential is hugely beneficial to building confidence and creating value in your life and in other people’s lives, for your lifestyle and also for business and commercial aspects too. So there are definitely benefits to releasing your creativity.

Biopsychology is a part of psychology that focuses and stems from the brain and biological sections and ideas and frameworks with respect to psychology. Releasing creativity through tried-and-tested methods of neuroscience and behavioural neuroscience which adds scientific weight to your neurophysiology, your brain system, your thinking, and various molecular structures in your brain, and how that relates to your creativity.

Another benefit of releasing creativity is a focus on your RAS. It’s your reticular activating system. It’s a filter in your brain that filters all extraneous stimulus and information, because there are millions of bits of information vying for your attention as you go about your day. Your brain simply cannot handle all the information out there. So the reticular activating system acts as a set of, let’s say, traffic lights. It lets in certain bit of information, to be processed in your brain. So green light in, red light out. For example, you’re walking down the street, and there’s lots going on in the busy outside shopping mall or high street. There’s lots of different noises, people talking, a helicopter going past, lots of advertising lights, and flashing cars going past.

What your reticular activating system does is, it filters out all the other bits of information. This will be focusing on absorbing the relevant information at the time. For example, to keep you safe and make sure you’re not walking out into the street, you can hear cars and a wealth of other important information.

So with releasing creativity with respect to psychology and neuroscience, there are certain solutions that can help you as a strategy to improve your creativity. Before we do that, I will let you in on a few secrets of nature to give you a contrast of the reticular activating system in humans and then in nature.

Have you heard of the mantis shrimp? It is an absolutely magnificent creature. Why? Because compared to humans, what it can do is, it can absorb thousands and thousands of pieces of information all at once into its brain without processing it first, compared to humans, where with the reticular activating system we have, we can only process maybe one or two pieces of information at once before it gets absorbed into the brain. Conversely, the mantis shrimp can, without processing, absorb hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of data at once. An amazing creature.

How do we improve our creativity? How do you practise creativity, and how do we release creativity, most importantly to build confidence?

2. Language.

Your language is massively important in creating creativity. How is language? What comes out of your mouth, the words, phrases, the tone — all have an effect and influence on your creativity and therefore your confidence.

The words you use are a representation of your thought processes, and if you use terms like ‘I’m an idiot’, that acts as a command to your brain, to your mind. Through the reticular activating system, it’s filtered into your brain as a command. And with that language, ‘I am an idiot’, you’ll start to believe it, and with repetition, that can have damaging effects on your confidence, on your creativity, on your emotional state, and on your physical state. So your language is massively important.

Be mindful of what language you use. Ask people to keep you accountable for what language you use with yourself and with others. Reframe your language. Use positive language — for example, ‘I am intelligent. I am intelligent. I am intelligent.’ Repeat it. Repetition is the mother of skill, so repeat, repeat, repeat the language you use. It is massively important to building creativity.

3. Physiology.

How you use your body affects your creativity in your mind. If you feel tired, for example, you can, in fact, kick tiredness by literally jumping, performing ten star jumps. Get your heart pumping, get your body moving, and it changes your mindset. It changes your body and psychology, and it changes you by adjusting your physiology.

By jumping up and down, for example, that will create energy in your mind, and the amount of energy that you can release is incredible, beyond what you think. For example, if you say ‘I am a marathon runner. I commit to running a marathon.’ Usually, 99 percent of people who say ‘I commit to running a marathon’ do it. They actually do it. And physiology for starting to run, starting to jump up and down, it trains your mind to release energy to be focused on what you need to do. So instead of it coming from your mind first, it comes from your physiology first, which is strong.

Focus on your language, your physiology, your reticular activating system, and your mindset changes your state so you can go from an apparent tiredness to massive energy. All that it takes is a little switch in your physiology and having focus on your language, and this all helps release creativity, release energy, and most importantly, build confidence — a great foundation of confidence. And did you know that people who are open to new experiences are more creative than others who are not?

Be open to new experiences. If someone asked you ‘Would you like to go for a run?’ and your immediate thought was ‘No, I’m not a runner’, how about giving it a go? You could even start with a short walk. It will change your physiology, it will change your state, and there are massive benefits to it. You might even have your million-dollar idea while still running.

Also, did you know that loss and trauma can have creative effects? If your mindset is one of gratitude for having loss and trauma in your life, it shifts your perspective on your life. It’s called post-traumatic growth. Building resilience and ultimately confidence in the process.

4. Less is more.

Less is more is important because releasing creativity doesn’t have to always be adding things. By doing less and removing or omitting things, you help to simplify your creativity. Being mindful of this will help your unique creative process now and into the future. It will reduce any perceived pressure to add extra. So, less is more. Important because ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ Doing nothing can sometimes be the best course of action. Do less.

Did you know that by focusing on less you increase clarity. Clarity is power.

I used to overthink. I still do a bit. I am definitely improving. But, once I began to simplify my ideas I’d become more confident in executing them and making my creations a reality. I’ve written this!

5. Create habits

Daily habits that will improve the likelihood of you getting into a great habit of being creative and practising creativity, where you don’t even have to think about it. For example, going back to the shower, every time you have a shower, but taking a notepad not into the shower, it’ll get wet! Put it out to the side so that it prompts you to get your creative juices flowing.

Once you’ve repeated this for about two weeks you’ll develop a habit that sticks. It’ll be like brushing your teeth daily, we can start to create a great habit. I’ve been creative by putting that trigger in place, whether it’s putting out a pen and pencil and pad down by the side of your bed or in the bathroom before you have a shower or before you go to sleep creates that trigger. So start to get into a great habit of being creative.

Creativity is building something, creating something, linking two initially disconnected ideas or thoughts into one. So creating something new, something innovative, something imaginative from your imagination. Being creative by linking two separate ideas or items from your mind together to create something completely brand new and innovative.

What will you create today, and how confident will you feel afterwards?

Thank you for reading!

Adam Bowcutt

Please feel free to also read: Why Commit to Lifelong Learning?

Adapted from Confide: The New Psychology of Confidence. How to Power Up after Experiencing Depression