67 Lessons From the Strongest Leaders I Know…

Recently, I was speaking to a friend and had the realization that I have been privileged by the opportunity to work with and learn from a host of incredible leaders.

From my dad who is responsible for the leadership of engineers in our nation’s space program; pastors who are actively shifting the culture of their community; band directors who are leading one of the largest and most reputable college marching bands in the country; start-up entrepreneurs who have built thriving businesses from the ground up; athletes whose team rose to the highest echelon of their sport; and elected representatives in our nation’s government; these are men and women whose success is a testament to their leadership. And, these are men and women who have graciously taught  me a lot. 

Upon having this realization, I pulled out my phone and started listing the most important things I’ve learned from these people. I hope you get as much out of this list as I did. My current top 10 are in BOLD.

  1. Never let your mood dictate your effort.
  1. Be known as someone who follows through.
  1. Be yourself. People can smell fake from a mile away.
  1. Life goes better when you honor and respect authority.
  1. Be on time.
  1. If and when you are late, don’t make excuses. Apologize.
  1. Give more credit than you take.
  1. It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.
  1. Be an easy laugher.
  1. Ask more questions than you answer.
  1. Don’t settle. Don’t let the people around you settle.
  1. Take what you do seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.
  1. Set goals that you can’t achieve alone.
  1. Be specific about your vision for the future.
  1. Sometimes, praise given in private can be more valuable than praise given in public.
  1. Put people first.
  1. Do things that don’t benefit you. 
  1. Spend time alone.
  1. Don’t avoid hard conversations.
  1. NEVER NEVER NEVER underestimate the power of “I’m proud of you.”
  1. There’s a difference between what you could do and what you should do.
  1. Be authentic with everyone and transparent with a precious few.
  1. Sometimes, the most valuable thing you can give people is time and attention.
  1. Define your non-negotiables. What are the things in your life that you simply won’t give up?
  1. Surround yourself with people who will disagree with you.
  1. Let TRUTH set the tone for your day.
  1. If you can’t invest in it fully, it’s not yours to do.
  1. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
  1. Be humble enough to recognize you have blind spots. Be smart enough to surround yourself with people who see your blind spots.
  1. Pride and burnout are your greatest enemies.
  1. Nothing replaces hustle.
  1. Leadership is about results and relationships.
  1. Even when you’re not speaking, you are communicating. What are you saying?
  1. Reward and recognize the things you want reproduced.
  1. Never use a weakness as an excuse.
  1. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take ownership. You are responsible. Period.
  1. Be intentional about the impact you are going to have on a room before you enter it.
  1. Care enough not to wing it. Leaders prepare.
  1. Don’t hold a grudge.
  1. You will produce more than you can sustain.
  1. You don’t have the luxury of lacking energy.
  1. Learn to encourage yourself.
  1. Handwritten letters are game changers.
  1. Celebrate small wins.
  1. Be honest about failures.
  1. Plan tomorrow today.
  1. Seek purpose in every conversation.
  1. Creative solutions cannot be manufactured.
  1. People thrive on trust.
  1. There is a difference between competition and comparison. One brings out the best. The other brings out the worst.
  1. Know your definition of success.
  1. If you aren’t elevating the people around you, you’re doing it wrong.
  1. Make a habit of giving REAL compliments.
  1. Evaluate your perspective regularly.
  1. Trust is a product of performance, proximity, and time.
  1. Place a premium on someone’s ability to be coached. Never lose the ability to be coached yourself.
  1. You will never silence the critics so don’t try.
  1. Eradicate distraction with purpose.
  1. Love people too much to let them off the hook.
  1. People respond to passion.
  1. There is an economy of words. The more you use, the less valuable they become.
  1. People love being around people doing what they love.
  1. Never let those around you lose sight of what they’re working FOR and what they’re working TOWARDS.
  1. Laugh at yourself.
  1. Don’t leave culture up to chance.
  1. Amplify your passion with discipline.
  1. Take the risk of truly caring.

67 Bullet Points is a lot. And if you’re like me, you feel like you have some serious work to do. Here’s my advice. Just choose ONE this week. Pick ONE area you want to improve. Write it down on a handful of post it notes and put them all over the place so you don’t forget. And then, commit to yourself and others to DELIBERATELY MOVE FORWARD in that area this week. I can’t wait to hear about the results.