10 Lessons Learned in Search of Success as a Leader

Newsflash: there are no shortcuts.

Alchemy, according to Malouin in the Encyclopedia of Diderot, is the chemistry of the subtlest kind which allows one to observe extraordinary chemical operations at a more rapid pace—ones that require a long time for nature to produce.

Newsflash: there are no shortcuts to great leadership. Much like the failure to change nature’s principles in search of longevity or turn lead into gold, one’s ability to lead develops slowly over time and with much strain.

1. You’re always an apprentice.

If you think you’ve mastered leading, you’re failing. Approach each day eager to learn another lesson, and you will. Approach each day assuming you’ve got this role licked, and you’ll get clobbered when you least expect it.

2. Great leaders require great missions.

It’s the humdrum of the mundane of the status quo that squashes the spirits of leaders and the people around them. If you’re not on a mission, create one. If you’re leading others, know that your job is to define the mission. Not the mission statement, the mission.

3. There’s just one job harder than being a leader.

The only job harder than leading is likely being a mother. Scratch that—mothers are the original leaders.

4. What you did yesterday doesn’t count.

What you’ll do tomorrow doesn’t count. Lead today—it’s the only day that counts.

5. You’re supposed to be uncomfortable.

Being uncomfortable is how the job is supposed to feel. Get over it. Get used to it. Revel in it. Or, get another job.

6. It’s not about you.

No one does anything for you. They do it for themselves.

7. You need to push your best people out.

Sometimes you have to push the ones with the highest potential out of the nest. Your instinct says to do everything possible to retain them. The right thing to do is to help them find the best opportunities to grow even if that means shoving them on their way.

8. The tough days are what make you a leader.

Enjoy the burn. It’s the tough days and issues, and especially your failures that mold you into a better leader.

9. Tenacity counts.

Hire the people who’ve struggled and persevered. I’ll take the person who held down three jobs to pay for college while caring for the sick relative any day of the week.

10. Character, not pedigree is what counts.

Pedigree is interesting, but character counts. Hire for character first, and the rest will follow.

The bottom line for now: If you are in search of success as a leader, know that there are no shortcuts. It’s hard work that requires deliberate effort and ample mistakes. Get on with it. You’ve got some mistakes to make. Make them faster to succeed sooner.