Self-Leadership: A 3-Step Guide to Achieving Personal Success

By Mihaela Plugarasu and Heather Bermudez, APR

J.K. Rowling, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, Steve Jobs, and other well-admired individuals, made the impossible the inevitable through their exquisite ability to self-lead. What do these leaders have in common? How did they beat all the odds?  There are immersive workshops, pilgrimages, self-care books to help but, we’ve broken it down in three steps to help guide you toward achieving personal excellence — steps that will give you practical tools to discover and leverage your creative potential, so that YOU can achieve your dreams too.

  1. Uncover your beliefs system and your thinking patterns. This task seems daunting to many, but it is the utmost urgent. As humans, we think between 50,000-75,000 thoughts a day. For the most part, we are not aware of our thoughts- who can keep track of such “busy” mental activity? However, we know from science that our thoughts impact our lives. So, this begs the question: Wouldn’t we want to know how our thinking patterns support (or not) the goals we want to achieve? And even more intriguing: where do thoughts come from? They come from our beliefs. In order for us to live our lives to our fullest potential, we have the responsibility to, at least, be curious about our beliefs and how they impact our lives, so we can take appropriate action.
  2. Connect with your needs and acknowledge other people’s needs at the same time. As social beings, we share universal human needs and simultaneously, we have uniquely personal needs that we must honor in our lives. Consciously or unconsciously, every action we take has the purpose of fulfilling one or more needs. Once we become aware of our needs and other people’s needs, we communicate from a place of connection and empathy — with ourselves, our peers, our audiences and our employers. We become more emotionally intelligent.
  3. Identify your values and align them with your career trajectory. OK, so this may be two steps in one but it’s connected, you’ll see. Once we identify our top two values, we understand that all decisions we make are rooted in our innate desire to live in alignment with our values — in other words, to live an authentic life. This personal awareness places us at an advantage where we become curious and eager to support other people’s values. As a result, we shift from competition to cooperation in college or at work; we unlock our creativity; and ultimately, we get closer every day to seeing our dreams become reality.

It all starts with you. It’s important to remember that self-leadership is a journey of inner discovery and a continuous learning process. And, it that process you must honor your own story, your own pace and your own authentic self – and, embrace the moments of triumph and defeat that guide you toward achieving your personal success.


Mihaela Plugarasu is an instructor in the Global Strategic Communications master’s program at Florida International University. Plugarasu is a dynamic facilitator, moderator and presenter on empowering topics related to Personal Branding & The Power of Social Media, Communication and Leadership, Conscious Living, Conscious Parenting, Personal Development and Self Growth.

Heather Radi-Bermudez, APR, is an instructor and the marketing director for the Global Strategic Communications master’s program at Florida International University. Radi-Bermudez is co-director and faculty lead for BOLD, the student-run, faculty-led strategic communications agency at Florida International University.

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