For many years, I have shared with the teams I’ve had the honor of serving with that 90% of what I know today is due to learning the hard way. I have tried to equate “trying and failing” as a necessary part of developing yourself with the knowledge that you keep a virtual tube of Neosporin handy to put on your bruised and sometimes bloody knees when you do fall down. Most of the times, these lessons in life (and leadership) were the ones that stuck the longest and had the most impact on me as I encountered similar challenges later in life. While some of my family members are a bit more private about the experiences in their life and rarely share specific examples of “fails” or “lessons learned” I am the exact opposite and have never had any issues with putting everything out there even when those things may not necessarily reflect very positively on me or my decision-making capabilities at the time. My very wise Grandfather, mentioned in several of my earlier posts, used to say “not saying it out loud doesn’t make it not so” which I always thought was a great way to approach things from an accountability perspective.
I remember early in my career, one of the owners of the hotel company I worked for attended a seminar where a speaker by the name of Michael Leboeuf was presenting on a book he had written “How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life”. I don’t know what compelled our owner to secure extra copies of the book and bring them back to us but I can remember him giving me that book and the emotions that I experienced when I believed that he thought I was worth investing in and recognized me as an up and coming leader. That gesture by somebody who was a seasoned and successful business person sent a deep and resounding message of expressed confidence to me that I will never forget. That one book began a waterfall of other books over the past 30 years and I took a valuable lesson from that very first gift I received so long ago. I have purchased many books over my lifetime and can humbly share that I have given away many more than I’ve ever kept for myself. Knowledge is not intended to be stored away or kept on a shelf. It is meant to be shared, to be expressed in such a way that others can learn from it. Even if the story is kind of icky or doesn’t always start off well for whoever is telling it. And I can assure everyone that the majority of my stories and shared experiences had a place where I “fell down”, did things the wrong way and desperately needed that tube of Neosporin to put on my bloody knees. Not some of my prouder moments, for sure, but they are the truth and not sharing those stories doesn’t mean they never happened. They are more of a way to connect with other individuals I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with along the way. A common thread to help let them know that nobody’s perfect, we all have things in our background or in our lives that aren’t the most positive to share. That we all fall down. But hopefully, that imperfection is an area of common ground that I can honestly say has created opportunities for me to establish relationships with people that have lasted my lifetime.
Several years ago, my sister Tina, put me on to a series of Leadership Podcasts by Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church out of Atlanta. I can remember listening to them on my phone and thinking “where were these 20 years ago?” I devoured every single podcast, listened to them over and over, and shared many of them with the teams at work. In 2013, Andy brought a young leader on as a guest to a couple of the podcasts by the name of Clay Scroggins. The reason Andy had invited Clay to join him was due to a principle or a series of belief that Clay had lived out as a part of serving on Andy’s team. The title of the 2-part podcast series was “How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge”. It was AMAZING! Clay talked about leading yourself first before you could expect to be positioned for leadership. He said that we should all focus on creating our own “oasis of excellence”. To ask ourselves “how should I lead with the opportunity I have?” He also said that “healthy leaders are continually developing and maturing. They have an internal motivation to get better.” And I thought, “Yes They Do!” I listened to those podcasts multiple times over the past few years and was thrilled when they did a refresh on that topic a couple months ago AND announced that Clay had written a book on that very same material. The release of “How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge” by Clay Scroggins was scheduled for August 22nd and I couldn’t wait! When I saw that they were asking for anybody interested in helping to get the word out about the book, I put my name in the hat immediately. Talk about getting behind something you deeply believe in…sign me up! I received an advanced copy of the book which I devoured immediately and pre-ordered several copies to share with my team at work. This book is one of the SINGLE most influential tools in growing and maturing Leaders for your business or organization. Clay’s book speaks to personal accountability, a hunger for always learning and growing, servant leadership, how to be faithful with what we’ve been given. The material presented in the book will resonate with both the young and the seasoned leader. His communication and writing-style is an easy read and the authenticity with which he conveys experiences from his own life was not only heart-warming but speaks to leadership principles that have rarely been communicated in such a straight-forward way.
If you have an opportunity to secure a copy of Clay’s book, buy more than one. You are bound to want to share it with other people in your life. I can speak from experience when I say that it will be one of the best gifts you will ever give. To show people you are connected to that you are also still learning and growing, that you have confidence in them as a leader, that they are worth investing in. Thank you, Tom Schaefer, for giving me my very first book. I will never forget it. Thank you, Andy Stanley, for making Leadership a part of your ministry. And most of all, thank you, Clay Scroggins, for stepping out there and writing what I know will be a Leadership Book for all time. A must read. A book with life-altering principles for ALL leaders.