Leadership Gold | Notes & Review

Posted on January 29, 2012


John Maxwell. Leadership Gold: Lessons I’ve Learned from a Lifetime of Leading. Thomas Nelson, 2008. (256)

Searching for Gold

…everything rises and falls on leadership. (vii)

…please understand that… 1. I’m still learning about leadership. 2. Many people have contributed to the leadership gold in this book. 3. What I’m teaching can be learned by nearly anyone. 4. Much of the leadership gold I’m sharing is a result of leadership mistakes I make. 5. Your ability to become a better leader depends on how you respond. (viii-ix)


Leadership is the willingness to put oneself at risk.
Leadership is the passion to make a difference with others.
Leadership is being dissatisfied with the current reality.
Leadership is taking responsibility while others are making excuses.
Leadership is seeing the possibilities in a situation while others are seeing the limitations.
Leadership is the readiness to stand out in a crowd.
Leadership is an open mind and an open heart.
Leadership is the ability to submerge your ego for the sake of what is best.
Leadership is evoking in others the capacity to dream.
Leadership is inspiring others with a vision of what they can contribute.
Leadership is the power of one harnessing the power of many.
Leadership is your heart speaking to the hearts of others.
Leadership is the integration of heart, head, and soul.
Leadership is the capacity to care, and in caring, to liberate the ideas, energy, and capacities of others.
Leadership is the dream made reality.
Leadership is, above all, courageous. (xi)

1. If It’s Lonely at the Top, You’re Not Doing Something Right

Loneliness is not a positional issue; it is a personality issue. (2)

If you are leading others and you’re lonely, then you’re not doing it right. Think about it. If you’re all alone, that means nobody is following you. And if nobody is following you, you’re not really leading! | What kind of a leader would leave everyone behind and take the journey alone? A selfish one. Taking people to the top is what good leaders do. Lifting people to a new level is a requirement for effective leadership. (3)

No One Ever Got to the Top Alone.

Making It to the Top Is Essential to Taking Others to the Top. A leader’s credibility begins with personal success. It ends with helping others achieve personal success.

Taking People to the Top Is More Fulfilling Than Arriving Alone. A boss says, “Go.” A Leader says, “Let’s go.” (5)

A great leader never sets himself above his followers except in carrying responsibilities. – Jules Ormont

1. Avoid Positional Thinking. Leadership is relational as much as it is positional. An individual who takes a relational approach to leadership will never be lonely. (6)

2. Realize the Downsides of Success and Failure.

3. Understand That You Are in the People Business. …good leaders understand that people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. You must like people or you will never add value to them. And if you become indifferent to people, you may be only a few steps away from manipulating them. No leader should ever do that. (7)

4. Buy Into the Law of Significance. …people don’t work for me. They work with me.

APPLICATION EXERCISES | 1. Are you better at the science or art of leadership? 2. Why do you want to be at the top? 3. How big is your dream?

2. The Toughest Person to Lead Is Always Yourself

Human nature seems to endow us with the ability to size up everybody in the world except ourselves. (12)

We Don’t See Ourselves as We See Others.

We Are Harder on Others Than We Are on Ourselves.

1. Learn Followership.

Civilization is always in danger when those who have never learned to obey are given the right to command. – Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

2. Develop Self-Discipline.

3. Practice Patience. When we are foolish, we want to conquer the world. When we are wise, we want to conquer ourselves. (15)

4. Seek Accountability.

When you see a good man, think of emulating him; when you see a bad man, examine your heart. – Chinese proverb

Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others, as what he does from day to day to lead himself. – Thomas J. Watson

When the leader doesn’t inspect himself, the people don’t respect him. (17)


1. How clearly do you see yourself?

2. Where do you need to grow?

3. How well do you take advice? Ask five to ten friends, colleagues, and family members to evaluate you using the levels mentioned in the chapter. Each of the following is worth the number beside it:

  1. You don’t want advice.
  2. You don’t object to advice.
  3. You welcome advice.
  4. You actively seek advice.
  5. You often follow the advice given to you.

3. Defining Moments Define Your Leadership

1. Defining Moments Show Us Who We Really Are. The choices we make in critical moments help to form us and to inform others about who we are. (21)

2. Defining Moments Declare to Others Who We Are. Defining moments put the spotlight on us…Our character isn’t made during these times — it is displayed! (22)

3. Defining Moment Determine Who We Will Become.

Defining moments are intersections that give us an opportunity to turn, change direction, and seek a new destination. (23)

Leaders become better leaders when they experience a defining moment and respond to it correctly. (26)


1. What is your track record? What kind of defining moments have you experienced in the past? Write down as many as you can remember. For each, note: the situation, your decision or response, and the result. (29)

2. How are you managing your decisions? Using the following list as an example, create a list of choices you will make based on your values and priorities.

Attitude: I will choose and display the right attitudes daily.
Priorities: I will determine and act upon important priorities daily.
Health: I will know and follow healthy guidelines daily.
Family: I will communicate with and care for my family daily.
Thinking: I will practice and develop good thinking daily.
Commitment: I will make and keep proper commitments daily.
Finances: I will deepen and live out my faith daily.
Faith: I will deepen and live out my faith daily.
Relationships: I will initiate and invest in solid relationships daily.
Generosity: I will plan for and model generosity daily.
Value: I will embrace and practice good values daily.
Growth: I will desire and experience improvements daily.

3. How prepared are you for future defining moments? As you face each day, try to be alert to the kinds of defining moments leaders typically face:

  • Ground Breakers — opportunities to do something new
  • Heart Breakers — opportunities to reevaluate priorities
  • Cloud Breakers — opportunities for a clear vision
  • Chart Breakers — opportunities to go to a new level

4. When You Get Kicked in the Rear, You Know You’re out in Front

One of the prices of leadership is criticism. (32)


1. Know Yourself — This Is a Reality Issue

Criticism is something you can avoid easily — by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. – Aristotle

I have…realized that what I need to hear most is what I want to hear last. (35)

2. Change Yourself — This Is a Responsibility Issue.

Some leaders are like seagulls. When something goes wrong, they fly in, make a lot of noise, and crap all over everything. – Ken Blanchard

People with that kind of attitude not only refuse to take responsibility for their contribution to the problem, but they also make conditions terrible for the people who work with them. (36)

3. Accept Yourself — This Is a Maturity Issue

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad. – Aldous Huxley

First people will tell you that you are wrong. Then they will tell you that you are right, but what you’re doing really isn’t important. Finally, thy will admit that you are right and that what you are doing is very important; but after all, they knew it all the time. – Jonas Salk

The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position. – Leo Buscaglia

4. Forget Yourself — This Is a Security Issue

Being who you really are is the first step in becoming better than you are. (38)

5. Never Work a Day in Your Life

I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun! – Thomas Edison

Following your passion is the key to finding your potential. (41)

Don’t put live eggs under dead chickens. – Howard Hendricks

When a person doesn’t have passion, life can become pretty monotonous. Everything is a “have to” and nothing is a “want to.” (43)

When I think back on my career, I recognize that passion has enabled me to do the following:

  • Believe things I would no have believed
  • Feel things I would not have felt
  • Attempt things I would not have attempted
  • Accomplish things I would not have accomplished
  • Meet people I would not have met
  • Motivate people I would not have motivated
  • Lead people I would not have led

The world will belong to passionate, driven leaders…people who not only have enormous amounts of energy, but who can energize those whom they lead. – Jack Welch


6. The Best Leaders Are Listeners

The average person suffers from three delusions: (1) that he is a good drive, (2) that he has a good sense of humor, and (3) that he is a good listener. – Steven Sample in The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership

I once read about a study that stated that we hear half of what is being said, listen to half of what we hear, understand half of it, believe half of that, and remember only half of that. (50)


1. Understanding People Precedes Leading Them. Leadership finds its source in understanding.

2. Leadership Is the Best Way to Learn.

3. Listening Can Keep Problems from Escalating.

Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams. – Cherokee proverb

4. Listening Establishes Trust. “…the foundation of all lasting relationships.” – Brian Tracy

5. Listening Can Improve the Organization.

Minds are of three kinds. One is capable of thinking for itself; another is able to understand the thinking of others; and a third can neither think for itself nor understand the thinking of others. The first is of the highest excellence, the second is excellent, and the third is worthless.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is the gift of attention. – Jim Rohn

It is possible to be a leader without listening. It’s not possible to be a good leader without listening. (54)


1. Give yourself a listening audit. If you’re not spending at least 80 percent of the time listening, you need to improve.

2. Who doesn’t feel listened to?

3. What people have you neglected to seek out? If you haven’t heard from some of your key people recently, seek them out and give them your ear. (55)

7. Get in the Zone and Stay There

People’s purpose in life is always connected to their giftedness. (59)

1. Ask, “What Am I Doing Well?”

2. Get Specific.

The great mystery isn’t that people do things badly but that they occasionally do a few things well. The only thing that is universal is incompetence. Strength is always specific! Nobody ever commented, for example, that the great violinist Jascha Heifetz probably couldn’t play the trumpet well. –  Peter Drucker

3. Listen for What Others Praise. …and start developing it.

4. Check Out the Competition.

Discover your uniqueness, then discipline yourself to develop it. – Jim Sundberg

Organizations exist to make people’s strengths effective an their weaknesses irrelevant. And this is the work of effective leaders. – Frances Hesselbein

8. A Leader’s First Responsibility Is to Define Reality

Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye and deny it. – Garrison Keillor

Truthfully, my aversion to being realistic and my occasional reluctance to embrace the fact that it is a leader’s responsibility to define reality has cost me greatly. (66)

YOU CAN’T DEFINE WHAT YOU DON’T SEE. I have often taught that people change only when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, or receive enough that they are able to. (66)

Six rules for successful leadership (by Jack Welch in Jack: Straight from the Gut):

  1. Control your destiny, or someone else will.
  2. Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it were.
  3. Be candid with everyone.
  4. Don’t manage, lead.
  5. Change before you have to.
  6. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.


1. Admit My Weakness. You can’t define reality if you won’t face reality.

2. Embrace Realistic People. An effective leadership team has members who complement one another. (70)

3. Ask for Honesty from Others. All leaders need to have a group of people around them who will tell them what they really think. (70)

4. Invite “Fresh eyes” to Check Me Out. Good leaders who lead great companies face reality and make changes accordingly. …Never forget, the way you define reality determines where and how you lead. And where and how you lead determines where your followers end up. In other words, a lot is depending on it. (71)

9. To See How the Leader Is Doing, Look at the People

Wherever you have a good leader, the team gets better, the organization gets better, the department or division gets better. And wherever you have a bad leader, everyone that leader impacts has a tougher time. Leadership makes every endeavor either better or worse. (74)


The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers. – Max Depree

When leaders are healthy, the people they lead tend to be healthy. When leaders are unhealthy, so are their followers. People may teach what they know, but they reproduce what they are. (76)

Question #1: Are the people following? All leaders have two common characteristics: first, they are going somewhere; second, they are able to persuade other people to go with them.

You can buy a man’s time; you can buy his physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of his skilled muscular motions per hour. But you can not buy enthusiasm…you can not buy loyalty…you can not buy the devotion of hearts, minds or souls. You must earn these. – Clarence Francis

Question #2: Are the people changing? Good leaders inspire their followers to have confidence in them. But great leaders inspire their followers to have confidence in themselves. (78)

Question #3: Are the people growing?

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of a leader. – Dale Galloway

As a leader, my success in developing others will depend upon the following:

  • My high valuation of people — this is an attitude issue.
  • My high commitment to people — this is a time issue.
  • My high integrity with people — this is a character issue.
  • My high standard for people — this is a goal-setting issue.
  • My high influence over people — this is a leadership issue.

Question #4: Are the people succeeding? Leaders may impress others when they succeed, but they impact others when their followers succeed. (80)

Leadership is the lifting of a man’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a man’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a man’s personality beyond its normal imitations. – Peter Drucker

10. Don’t Send Your Ducks to Eagle School

WHY SOME DON’T SOAR. Experience has taught me a valuable lesson: no matter what I do or how hard I try to help people, not everyone will respond in the same way. Some people will attend a conference and their lives will start to turn around. Others will come and tune out everything I say. Some will change; some won’t. (86)

1. If You Send Ducks to Eagle School, You Will Frustrate the Ducks. Leadership is all about placing people in the right place so they can be successful. (88)

2. If You Send Ducks to Eagle School, You Will Frustrate the Eagles. As a leader, you should always challenge people to move out of their comfort zone, but never out of their strength zone. (89)

3. If You Send Ducks to Eagle School, You Will Frustrate Yourself.

11. Keep Your Mind on the Main Thing

The business schools reward difficult, complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective. – Warren Buffett

1. I Determined Not to Know Everything. Taking myself out of the middle of everything lessens my personal importance to many people in my organization, but it allows me to do that which is personally important to me. It also means that assignments are not always done “my way.” But I have discovered that most things can be accomplished effectively in many ways. (99)

2. I Determined Not to Know Everything First. For leaders, it’s better to know the most important things than to know everything. (99)

3. I Determined to Let Someone Represent Me.

How do you decide if someone else can be your representative, even when the pressure is on and the stakes are high? First, you must know their heart well enough to trust their character. Second, you must have enough shared history so that they know your heart and mind. And third, you must believe in their competence. If they can do the job 80 percent as well as you would, then they’re ready. (101)

4. I Determined to Stay with My Strengths and Not Work on My Weaknesses. Half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb at. (100)

5. I Determined to Take Charge of What Took My Time and Attention.

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple – C.W. Ceran

12. Your Biggest Mistake Is Not Asking What Mistake You’re Making

To get maximum attention, make a big mistake. To cause maximum damage, fail to admit it! (106)

When it comes to success, it’s not the number of mistakes you make; it’s the number of times you make the same mistake. (107)

Whenever I could not get the results I wanted, I swallowed my temper and turned inward to see if I was part of the problem. I asked myself three questions: Did I clearly articulate the goals? Did I give people enough time and resources to accomplish the task? Did I give them enough training? I discovered that 90 percent of the time, I was at least as much a part of the problem as my people were. – Michael Abrashoff, It’s Your Ship

The person interested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top – Joyce Brothers

As if screwing up on the field in front of millions of TV viewers wasn’t enough, the Monday after every game I got to relive my mistakes — over and over again, in slow motion and with commentary from the coaches! Even when we won, we always took time to review our mistakes. When you’re forced to confront your mistakes that often, you learn not to take your failures so personally. I learned to fail fast, learn from my mistakes and move on. Why beat yourself up about it? Just do better next time. – Joe Montana

Good people are good because they have come to wisdom through failure. We get very little wisdom from success. – William Saroyan

If a person will begin with certainties, he will end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he will end in certainties. – Sir Francis Bacon

13. Don’t Manage Your Time — Manage Your Life

…there really is no such thing as “time management.” The term is an oxymoron. Time cannot be managed. It cannot be controlled in any way. It marches on no matter what you do, the way the meter in a taxi keeps running, whether you are moving forward or standing still. (115)

Nothing else distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time. – Peter Drucker

So what can you do? Manage yourself! Nothing separates successful people from unsuccessful people more than how they use their time. Successful people understand that time is the most precious commodity on earth. (115)


Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you. – Carl Sandburg

The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them. – Zig Ziglar

Life management begins with an awareness of time and of the choices we should make to be a good steward of it. Those who do well at it do things that

  • Advance their overall purpose in life — this helps them grow.
  • Underscore their values — this brings them fulfillment.
  • Maximize their strengths — this makes them effective.
  • Increase their happiness — this gives them better health.
  • Equip and coach others — this compounds their productivity.
  • Add value to others — this increases their influence.

14. Keep Learning to Keep Leading

…if you don’t have a plan for personal growth, then don’t expect to grow! (125)

1. Invest in Yourself First. If you want to lead, you must learn. If you want to continue to lead, you must continue to learn. (126)

The greatest obstacle to discovery isn’t ignorance or lack of intelligence. It’s the illusion of knowledge. (127)

What kind of attitude do you have when it comes to learning? I’ve observed that people fall into one of these categories. They live in one of three zones:

  • The Challenge Zone: “I attempt to do what I haven’t done before.”
  • The Comfort Zone: “I do what I already know I can do.”
  • The Coasting Zone: “I don’t even do what I’ve done before.”

Over the years I have developed a highly disciplined growth regimen:

I read daily to grow in my personal life.
I listen daily to broaden my perspective.
I think daily to apply what I learn.
I file daily to preserve what I learn. [VIA: Thank you “Evernote!”]

Leadership and learning are indispensable of each other. – John F. Kennedy

The road to success is uphill all the way, and most people are not willing to pay the price. Many people would rather deal with old problems than find new solutions. to be a lifelong learner, I had to get out of a stagnant environment and distance myself from people who had no desire to grow. I sought out places where growth was valued and people were growing. It helped me to change and grow — especially in the beginning of my journey. (129)

What does a growth environment look like? I believe it has ten characteristics. It is a place where the following things occur:

  • Others are ahead of you.
  • You are continually challenged.
  • Your focus is forward.
  • The atmosphere is affirming.
  • You are often out of your comfort zone.
  • You wake up excited.
  • Failure is not your enemy.
  • Others are growing.
  • People desire change.
  • Growth is modeled and expected.


1. Do you have destination disease? If you think you have arrived (or can someday arrive) by achieving a certain position, acquiring a particular degree or credential, or earning a certain level of income, then you are in danger of finding yourself in either the comfort or coasting zone. (132)

15. Leaders Distinguish Themselves During Tough Times

As a young leader, I was very quick to embrace the perks of leadership. I was much slower to pay the price of leadership. (135)

I can’t lead people if I need people. …Of course leaders need people. The purpose of leadership is to take people where they couldn’t go on their own, inspire and equip them to do what they thought they couldn’t do, and accomplish what can only be done by a group working together. To do that, leaders should love their people and be close to them. However, there are times when a leader must move forward, taking a courageous step an not waiting for others’ approval. It is not healthy for a leader to need people’s approval. As a leader, if I try to please everybody, eventually I will alienate everybody. (136)

When the right person is the leader, he does even better during tough times. – Rudy Giuliani

16. People Quit People, Not Companies

Some cause happiness wherever they go. Some cause happiness whenever they go. – Oscar Wilde

1. People Quit People Who Devalue Them. It is impossible to add value to someone we devalue!

2. People Quit People Who Are Untrustworthy. Manchester Consulting indicates that trust in the workplace is on the decline. They discovered that the five quickest ways that leaders lost the trust of their people in the work place were:

  • Acting inconsistently in what they say and do
  • Seeking personal gain above shared gain
  • Withholding information
  • Lying or telling half-truths
  • Being closed-minded

In contrast, the survey found that the best way for leaders to build trust were to:

  • Maintain integrity
  • Openly communicate their vision and values
  • Show respect for fellow employees as equal partners
  • Focus on shared goals more than their personal agendas
  • Do the right thing regardless of personal risk

3. People Quit People Who Are Incompetent. Leaders need to inspire confidence, and they do that, not with charisma, but with competence. (148)

4. People Quit People Who Are Insecure. People want to work for leaders who fire them up, not who put out their fire. (149)


1. I take responsibility for my relationships with others. When a relationship goes bad, I initiate action to try to make the relationship better.

2. When people leave me, I do an exit interview. The purpose of the interview is to discover if I am the reason they are leaving. If so, I apologize and take the high road with them.

3. I put a high value on those who work with me. It’s wonderful when the people believe in their leader. It’s more wonderful when the leader believes in the people.

4. I put credibility at the top of my leadership list. I may not always be competent; there are times when every leader finds himself in over his head. However, I can always be trustworthy.

5. I recognize that my positive emotional health creates a secure environment for people. Therefore I will think positively, practice right behavior toward others, and follow the golden rue.

6. I maintain a teachable spirit and nurture my passion for personal growth. I will keep learning so I can continue leading. If I keep growing, I will never become the “lid” on the potential of my people. (149-150)

17. Experience Is Not the Best Teacher

Experience teachings nothing, but evaluated experience teaches everything. (155)

1. We All Experience More Than We Understand.

2. Our Attitude Toward Unplanned and Unpleasant Experiences Determines Our Growth. The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. (157)

3. Lack of Experience Is Costly. The acquisition of experience can be costly. But it’s not as costly as not gaining experience. (158)

I know a man who grabbed a cat by the tail and he learned 40 percent more about cats than the man who didn’t. – Mark Twain

5. Not Evaluating and Learning from Experience Is More Costly.

Don’t just learn something from every experience. Learn something positive. – Allen Neuharth

6. Evaluated Experience Lifts a Person Above the Crowd.

18. The Secret to a Good Meeting Is the Meeting Before the Meeting

Anyone who has spent a lot of time in meetings knows that a meeting may take minutes, but it usually wastes hours. And anytime the outcome of a meeting is to have another meeting, you know you’re in trouble. (165)

Certainly you never want to have meetings simply for the sake of having meetings, but there are times when you need to meet with people. In those times, the point of meeting is to get something accomplished. To be a good leader, you have to learn to make your meetings effective. (165)

THE SECRET TO A GOOD MEETING. Olan Hendrix explained that meetings usually fail for two main reasons:

  1. The leader doesn’t have a clear agenda.
  2. Other people in the meting have their own agendas.

Most people have the wrong idea about the purpose of a meeting. I think a lot of us think of them as time savers. …That’s the wrong way to think about a meeting. meetings are for getting things done! To do that, you must often have a meeting before the meeting to prepare people for the meeting. Here’s why:

The Meeting Before the Meeting Helps You to Receive Buy-In. Most people are down on what they’re not up on.

The Meeting Before the Meeting Helps Followers to Gain Perspective. What people see is determined by where they sit.

The Meeting Before the Meeting Helps to Increase Your Influence. Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. How do you gain influence with people? You invest in them. How do you invest in them? It starts with giving them time. (167)

The Meeting Before the Meeting Helps You Develop Trust.

The Meeting Before the Meeting Helps You Avoid Being Blindsided.

Three categories for an agenda:

  • Information Items: …spend a few minutes communicating what has happened in the organization since the last official meeting.
  • Study Items: …items to be discussed openly and honestly.
  • Action Items:

Good planning always costs less than good reacting. – Wayne Schmidt

A leader never has to recover from a good start. (171)

19. Be a Connector, Not Just a Climber

Leadership is relational as much as positional. (175)

Climbers Think Vertical — Connectors Think Horizontal.

Climbers Focus on Position — Connectors Focus on Relationships. Positional people desire to climb the ladder; relational people are more focused on building bridges. (177)

Climbers Value Competition — Connectors Value Cooperation. They see working together as a win. (177)

Climbers Seek Power — Connectors Seek Partnerships.

Climbers Build Their Image — Connectors Build Consensus. Connectors are more concerned with getting everyone on the same page so that they can work together. (178)

Climbers Want to Stand Apart — Connectors Want to Stand Together. Connectors,…find ways to get closer to other people, to find common ground that they can stand on together. (178)

If you climb without connecting, you may gain authority, but you won’t have many friends. (178)

Five qualities you may find will assist you to connect with others:

  • Appreciation allows for differences in people and considers them interesting.
  • Sensitivity knows about personal feelings and quickly adjusts to the moods of others.
  • Consistency has the quality of being “real,” not phony, and gives only sincere compliments.
  • Security doesn’t’ try to be “top dog”; it knows it isn’t an automatic loss when others win.
  • Humor laughs at itself; it is not oversensitive.

If you connect well but possess little desire to climb, you may end up with many friends, but not much authority to actually accomplish anything. (179)

20. The Choices Your Make, Make You

Successful people make right decisions early and manage those decisions daily. (184)

There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you. – John Wooden

It is or choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. – J.K. Rowling

1. My Choices Have Shown Me Myself

2. Many Choices Were Not Easy

3. The Choices I Made Changed Who I Was

Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you — the part that chooses — into something a little different than what it was before. Taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature. – C.S. Lewis


Choice #1: My Standards for Myself Will Be Higher Than What Others Might Set for Me

Choice #2: Helping People Is More Important Than Making Them Happy

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better. – Pat Riley

Leadership is among other things, the ability to inflict pain and get away with it…short-term pain for long-term gain. – George F. Will

Choice #3: My Focus Will Be on the Present

To be a successful leader, you need to know what you stand for and what you will stand up to. The key choices you make regarding how you will conduct yourself and lead others not only indicate what kind of leader you are, they determine what kind of leader you will become. Choose wisely. (190)

21. Influence Should Be Loaned but Never Given

I am more afraid of any army of one hundred sheep led by a lion than an army of one hundred lions led by a sheep. – Count Talleyrand

1. Influence Exists to Speak Up for Those Who Don’t Have Influence.

2. Influence Exists to Speak to Those Who Do Have Influence.

3. Influence Exists to be Passed On to Others

People started asking me to extend my influence for them. Because my motivation as a leader was to help people, I gladly gave my influence to whoever asked for it — with no strings attached. Bad decision. I soon discovered that people were taking advantage of me. Here’s what I mean:

They Failed to Establish Their Own Leadership Using My Influence. If leaders can’t eventually lead on their own, then they are of little value to the organization. (196)

They Took My Influence for Granted.

They Were Unable to Build the Organization by Passing on Influence to Others. People who have no influence of their own cannot pass on influence to others. You cannot give what you do not have. (197)


Not Everyone Will Receive the Loan of My Influence.

Those Who Receive the Loan of My Influence Will Be Accountable. …it is my business as the influencer to know their business and make sure my investment is wise. (198)

I Expect a Good Return on My Loan. I want to see their growth accelerate. I want to know their influence has increased. (198)

22. For Everything You Gain, You Give Up Something

The greatest detriment to tomorrow’s success, is today’s success. – Rick Warren

By avoiding risk, we really risk what is most important in life — reaching toward growth, our potential and a true contribution to a common goal. – Max DePree


1. Trade Affirmation for Accomplishment. I decided that I would prefer to actually get something done than to just make myself look good.

2. Trade Security for Significance. Success does not mean simply being busy.

3. Trade Financial Gain for Future Potential. If you are willing to sacrifice financially on the front end for the possibility for greater potential, you are almost always given greater chances for higher rewards — including financially. (206)

4. Trade Immediate Pleasure for Personal Growth.

5. Trade Exploration for Focus. Once you have found what you were created to do, stick with it. (207)

6. Trade Quantity of Life for Quality of Life.

7. Trade Acceptable for Excellent. If something is worth doing, give it your best — or don’t do it at all.

8. Trade Addition for Multiplication. Leaders who gather followers add to what they can accomplish. Leaders who develop leaders multiply their ability. (208)

9. Trade the First Half for the Second Half.

10. Trade Your Work for God for a Walk with God.

To be an excellent leader, I think you have to learn to travel light. You must learn to off-load before trying to reload. (209)

23. Those Who Start the Journey with You Seldom Finish with You

Anytime you ignore reality for the sake of the relationship, you will have problems. (215)

Not Everyone Will Take the Journey with You

Not Everyone Should Take the Journey with You

Not Everyone Can Take the Journey with You

Make no mistake, to some degree, you choose who you lose. If you keep and reward uncommitted or unproductive people, eventually your team will be comprised of uncommitted and unproductive people. What gets rewarded is what gets done. All organizations have turnover. People come and people go. The question is not, are people leaving? The question is, who is leaving? (217)

In the end, what I have discovered is that leaders cannot think of themselves as the owners of their teams — even if they happen to be the owner of the organization they lead. Good leaders understand that they are stewards. (219)

24. Few Leaders Are Successful Unless a Lot of People Want Them to Be

Without a lot of people working together, there would be no successful leaders. (224)

If you want to be a successful leader, you will need the support of many people. And if you are wise, you will appreciate and acknowledge their contribution to your success. (225)

Behind an able man are always other able men and women. – Chinese proverb

People appreciate working for someone who appreciates them. (228)

25. You Only Get Answers to the Questions You Ask

Confidence can be defined as that uplifting, energizing, positive feeling that you possess — before you truly understand your situation. (232)

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask is a fool forever. – Chinese proverb

Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why. – Bernard Baruch

Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions and as a result, they get better answers. – Anthony Robbins

1. Am I Investing in Myself? — This Is a Personal Growth Question

2. Am I Genuinely Interested in Others? — This Is a Motive Question

3. Am I Doing What I Love and Loving What I Do? — This Is a Passion Question. It is very easy to move from being a serving leader to being a self-serving one.

4. Am I Investing My Time with the Right People? — This Is a Relationship Question

5. Am I Staying in My Strength Zone? — This Is an Effectiveness Question

6. Am I Taking Others to a Higher Level? — This Is a Mission Question

7. Am I Taking Care of Today? — This Is a Success Question. You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. (238)

8. Am I Taking Time to Think? — This Is a Strategic Leadership Question

9. Am I Developing Other Leaders? — This Is a Legacy Question

10. Am I Pleasing God? — This Is a Faith Question

Some people see questions as a sign of ignorance. I see them as a sign of engagement, curiosity, and the desire to improve — assuming that the questions are thoughtful and the questioner doesn’t keep asking the same questions over and over again. If you’re not asking, you’re not advancing. If you’re not listening, you’re not learning. (It’s said that small people monopolize the talking and big people monopolize the listening.) If you don’t ask questions, you won’t get answers. And know this: if you are no longer asking questions as a leader, then you might as well buy a rocking chair, put it on your front porch, and call it a day, because you’ve already retired. (240)

26. People Will Summarize Your Life in One Sentence — Pick It Now

What will my legacy be?

Life is like a parachute jump, you’ve got to get it right the first time. – Eleanor Roosevelt

The average man does not know what to do with his life, yet wants another one which will last forever. – Anatole France

Most people don’t lead their lives; they just accept them. – John Kotter

Most people don’t get to choose when or how they’re going to die. But they can decide how they’re going to live. (248)

We have made at least a start in discovering the meaning in human life when we plant shade trees under which we know full well we will never sit. – D. Elton Trueblood