keep-calm-and-start-a-revolution-6This week, millions of people are making their New Year’s Resolutions but the sad fact is that, according to The Journal of Clinical Psychology, only eight percent of them will be successful in achieving their goals. So if you really want to change your life this year, you need more than the same old recycled resolutions you trot out year after year. You need a revolution in how you approach change.

It’s what I call The Revolution Inside, one of The Four Resolutions of a Leader. It’s revolutionary because you can’t lead others until you can lead yourself and you can’t lead yourself until you make some fundamental changes in how you wire your mind. And it starts with knowing yourself.

This is not a new idea. The words “Know Thyself” were carved over the entry to the temple at Delphi, where tragic Greek leaders went to get their questions answered. The trouble was, people would look up at that inscription and they would smile and nod and say, that’s nice. Then they’d go in and pay a lot of money to get their question answered. But in most cases the answer they got back never made any sense. It was always a riddle. The ironis is, had they really known themselves, they could have answered their own question. Or, even more important, they could have asked the right one.

The priestesses who ran the Oracle were no dummies. They had it very well thought out. They put the Temple way up on top of a mountain, so you had a lot of time to think as you walked up there. The idea of a long hike up a mountain was to help you still your mind. With your head bowed as you stepped up the trail, you would be engaged in your physical body and your mind would calm down.

ATH Delphi Apollo Temple panorama_bAnd then your reach the top, where the temple is. What are you supposed to see on a mountain top? You’re supposed to have a better view of things. You go to the mountain top to have deep insights, not to ask stupid questions. You stand on the mountain top and take a deep breath. You think about the question you are asking. You think about why you’re asking it and what you really want to know: the question behind the question. You take a moment to get real quiet inside so you can hear yourself think.

After all that, when you reach the door of the temple and see those words over the entry—Know Thyself!—you can stop, because you’ve probably just answered your own question.


“If I had twenty days to solve a problem, I would take nineteen days to define it.”

Albert Einstein


The Revolution Inside begins with the ability to know yourself. But suppose you don’t have time to climb a mountain every time you need clarity? Here are the two killer questions you have to ask yourself.

The Two Questions that Will Rock Your World.

When I coach leaders, this is where we start. Every morning when you wake up, ask yourself these two questions. Every moment of the day, from the moment you get to work until the moment your head hits the pillow. Before you write that e-mail, pick up that phone or walk into that meeting. Every time you walk through a door. Two simple questions.

Question 1: Who Am I Being?

The language is very specific. It’s not about who you want to be. Who you ought to be. Or who you aspire to be. Those are irrelevant ideas. The only thing you want to know is, Who am I being right now, right here, in this moment? That’s all.

Maybe you’re irritated. Maybe you’re balanced. Maybe you’re completely hunky-dory. Which is it? You need to know. Maybe you’re about to blow your top. Maybe you’re looking for a way to avoid bad news. Maybe you’re freaking out. If you don’t know that about yourself, you’re heading for a fall.

Who you are being is important. But it’s not as important as knowing. Because in the moment that you truly know who you are being, you can change in an instant.

And that’s where the second question comes in.

Question 2: What Do I Want?

You want to rip somebody’s head off? Go with God. But is that really what you want? Probably not. Probably what you really want is a problem solved. A relationship improved. Or a moment of transformation. This question, like the first one, is focused in the here and now, in the moment.

All those “resolution” desires—I want to lose weight, I want to find love, I want a billion dollars—are future-based. They’re probably irrelevant to the door you’re about to walk through, unless maybe it’s the door to the gym. But even then, if you really ask yourself what you want in the moment of entering the gym, your answer is probably more like, “I want to focus on my workout.” The ten pounds you want to lose will come as a result of that desire to focus.


“All experience happens for one purpose only: to expand your awareness.”

Paul Ferrini


With practice, these two questions become as one. Asking yourself who you are being actually changes who you are being. You soon find that just asking the question puts your mind into an alert, focused state. And in that state of presence, asking yourself what you want changes what you want. Chances are, you find yourself wanting to be in a state of alert observation and intuition, a state of curiosity about the world around you and what wants to happen.


“So far, the evidence seems to be compelling. What seems to be happening is that information is coming from the future.”

Brian Josephson, Nobel Physicist


And That’s Where The Revolution Occurs.

Leaders who know themselves operate from a state of present clarity. They are more perceptive and able to read behind what people are saying to understand what they are really asking. And when you can understand the people around you—when you identify who they are being and what they want—you can help them fulfill their own destinies, which is what leadership really is.

And now that you understand that, let me ask you this: who are you being? And what do you want?

Interested in digging deeper? I’m working with executive teams on Leadership Presence Coaching. Reach out and let’s talk about how we can start a revolution in your leadership.

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