Amazon lists more than 179,000 books on leadership. I love to read them—especially if they are written by someone well known. It is much easier to relate when you see how their leadership lessons inspired themselves.
That challenge, however, with high profile people writing books on leadership is that they put themselves in glass houses.
A few years ago I had the chance to spend some time with Jared Fogle—formerly of Subway fame and now living at Henderson County Detention Center in Kentucky before being sent to prison in Littleton, Colo.
We all know his Cinderella story: A fat kid drops 245 pounds by eating Subway turkey and veggie subs, becomes their pitchman, experiences wealth beyond what most of us will ever experience (a net worth more than $15 million), propels his brand to new heights, and is America’s darling. He even ran the New York City marathon—the same kid who couldn’t walk a block at one point!
He was so popular he would make up to $10,000 for a motivational speech.
Five years ago he got married and the couple had kids in 2011 and 2013. Life was good. Great wife, great life, it couldn’t get any better, right?
On my shelf I have an autographed copy of his book—“Jared the Subway Guy—Winning Through Losing: 13 Lessons for Turning Your Life Around.” Jared’s 13 lessons:
- Open your eyes—admit you have a problem;
- Do something—get out of the rut;
- Reach for the stars—be the hero of your own life;
- Find your personal spark—turn your worst fears inside out;
- One size doesn’t fit all—create a plan of action after analyzing your problem;
- Change your mind to change your life—do what has to be done;
- Don’t tell anyone—change for yourself … not the rest of the world;
- See the big picture—It isn’t how fast you progress towards your goal … it is how steadily you do it;
- Throw out conventional wisdom—follow the path that works for you;
- Fill the void—find distractions that keep you from falling back into your old patterns;
- Change is for life—achieving your goal isn’t the end … it is the beginning of a new life;
- Move on with your life, embrace the change in you … even if it means accepting changes in your personal relationships; and
- The harder you work, the luckier you get—you have to work hard and make your own luck.
When I spent some time with him I walked away thinking, “What a great guy. Humble. Unassuming. A man who appreciates what he has and doesn’t take it for granted.”
Wow—was I wrong.
In August the other side of Jared Fogle hit the news. A man who paid for sex with underage prostitutes and justified it. In fact he spent more than $12,000 a year for sex. He was addicted to porn. A professor of forensic psychiatry analyzed Fogle in August and testified Jared suffers from hyper sexuality, pedophilia, along with alcohol use and dependency.
The U.S. District judge delivered a severe sentence in federal court last week. Fogle’s attorney was asking for five years in prison for Jared. The prosecuting attorney wanted 12 years. The judge fined him $175,000, along with more than $1 million in restitution to his victims and sentenced him to more than 15 years. Fogle, now 38, will be in prison until he is more than 50 years old.
It is all about doing what is right. Leaders do know what is right and what is wrong. Great leaders continually do what is right.
In the past several years we’ve seen many Congressmen convicted of crimes. I’m from Illinois. Four of the last seven Illinois governors have gone to prison. We’ve seen many religious leaders plead for forgiveness because of multiple issues and crimes.
Leadership. We have learned to watch what people do in leadership positions—not what they say or who they are.
No one on the planet today wishes they were Jared Fogle. Sad. Very sad. Fogle forgot his 13 lessons. You don’t have to let those principles go to waste. If you are seeking to make changes in your life, they can provide a good roadmap.
Remember great leaders know what is wrong and what is right and do the right thing.