01 Feb Four leaders – five lessons – one thread

In the past few weeks I spoke to four highly regarded executives. We didn’t talk about their achievements, because their learning, growth and development from setbacks and struggles were far more interesting to them.

IMG_1171The leaders comprised of a top executive of a major technical company, an elite litigator, a hall of fame speaker, and a Green Beret turned entrepreneur.

  1. If you don’t learn the lesson, you’re going to keep repeating it until you do.
  2. The secret to getting what you want is helping others get what they want. Be generous without any expectations whatsoever.
  3. Understand what activities truly will be the tipping point for success. And it’s usually the simplest of all the options.
  4. Fear isn’t good or bad, but there is always a choice how to face it.   As Tim Fargo said, “Confidence is what we get when we take fear, face it and replace it.”
  5. Confidence and decisiveness can serve leaders well, but the top job needs a leader who has the confidence to slow down to speed up.

First, each leader was willing to reflect on their own shortcomings with true humility, and by doing so, teach others.

They believe a core question is, “For whose good to you serve?”

Focus cannot be obtained without sacrifice. Fear cannot be used as tool without courage.

Finally, William Deresiewicz provided sage advice to new recruits at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2009 that’s apropos for today’s senior leaders as well:

“…solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one. However many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself.”

Are you taking the time to step back?



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