It is not well known, but William Shakespeare, in addition to being one of the greatest writers of all time, was also a successful entrepreneur. He was part owner of an acting company, helped build the largest open-air theater in London, England and purchased a great deal of real estate which doubled in value. Shakespeare also understood what his audiences wanted in his plays - providing comedy, drama and a combination of both. Over 400 years has passed, but this genius has much to teach us today about how we can lead our own lives to improve our careers and businesses. In this post, I study 8 texts and beliefs of Shakespeare and apply them to self-leadership in this modern age. 1. Believe it or not, you are in total control It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. Forget fate. We are in control of what happens to us every moment of every day. God gave us free will, we need only to use it in the best way we know how. Far too many people are expecting money to fall from the sky or a miracle to take over their lives. Your destiny is indeed in your hands. You are the miracle. Take back your power. 2. It's all about how we see things There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. There are, of course, bad things that happen in this world. But in our daily lives, how we view things will determine whether we act and what actions we will take. A manager who is demanding may appear to some as a bully, but to others he or she may be just what is needed - a person who will challenge us so we can become the better for it. Things can be seen as positive or negative. It's our choice. Much of what happens in a daily work environment, while seemingly "bad" may in fact be "good." Think first about potential benefits before condemning a thing or a person. 3. Effective self-leadership is admitting we don't know everything A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. It's about humility. Arrogance is a fast track to disloyalty. Be humble. Be appreciative. Admit when you don't know something, rather than pretending you do. People will respect you more and be attracted to you as a result. 4. Be known for action, not words Talking isn't doing. It is a kind of good deed to say well; and yet words are not deeds. There are people who "say well" as Shakespeare would put it. They are good talkers, and they believe their talk will win them points. But far too many people make promises they have no intention of keeping. Desperate to get others to support and like them, they say what they feel others want to hear. But their failure to follow up results in discouragement and disbelief. Actions always speak louder than words. People will judge us, not on what we say, but on what we do. Become a person of action, not a talker. 5. Adhere to your values and you can't go wrong This above all; to thine own self be true. Have you thought about what principles you adhere to in business and in life? What are your values? Do you, for example, value honesty above all else? Do you believe in helping others? Whatever your core values, you must make every decision in your career and life according to them. Let your values guide you. Decisions then become much easier and natural. When applying for a job, find out if the company shares your values. When selecting a friend or partner, find out if they have the same values as you. Shakespeare believed that being true to yourself was the most important thing. He was right. 6. Doubt is the enemy Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt. Doubt. It stops so many of us from even trying new things. There are countless inventions, new products and services, and new ways of doing things - that have yet to see the light of day because their creators experienced doubt. Act in spite of your doubts because along the journey, you will uncover the answers. 7. Be brave Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. Each time we decide not to follow a dream, we experience death. That part of us dies. Years ago, I opted not to follow my ambition to be an artist. I was told that I was quite good and just needed some practice. But I didn't have enough faith in myself so I gave up. The artist in me died many years ago but I still wonder today what would have happened had I decided to at least try. 8. Be brief Brevity is the soul of wit. I am always amazed how impressed people are of me when I say nothing and just listen to them. At social functions, I ask the odd question and let people talk about their favorite subject: themselves. Later, they say, "It was so great talking with you" (but I didn't say anything!). When it comes to conversation, less is more. We live in a world where everyone wants to talk and few are willing to listen. Be among the few and you will stand out from the crowd. Take back your power, follow your values, and forge a reputation for action. Let the wisdom of Shakespeare lead you to success.