Leadership Lessons—Who Are Your Five?

“I’m sitting in church last Sunday when the Pastor asked this piercing question, ‘If you had to list the five people you thought are the most successful—who would they be?’”—Mark Liston

So I’ll ask you the same, who are your five?

First, let’s define “success.” Does it mean successful financially? Spiritually? Family-wise? Politically? Here is where you need to better define what success means to you.

For instance, in the U.S. the wealthiest are Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison, heirs of the Walmart fortune, and the Koch brothers. Does that define success for you?

In 2008 the U.S. News and World Report cited Lance Armstrong as one of American’s best leaders. How did that work out?

Business Insider listed, in their opinion, the most powerful people in politics. Among them were Bill Clinton, Chris Christie, Warren Buffet, Michelle Obama, Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh. I’m not sure about you but I don’t think I would personally define “success” by some of the people on this list!

In 2013 Forbes proclaimed the most successful actor was Robert Downey Jr. Let’s stop there. I agree he is a fabulous actor. But has dealt with drug issues, he says, since the age of eight. Is that success to you?

Golf success?—Tiger Woods. It has been five years since he won a major. I think many of us remember when some of the problems really started, even though he has faced health issues for some time. Does he define success to you?

Lincoln? My favorite president ever. Maybe because I’m from Illinois—a state called “Land of Lincoln”—even on the license plates. He had an unhappy marriage with a woman who was “certifiable.” He also died thinking his Gettysburg Address was a failure.

Baseball—the best hitter of all time (base hits) is Pete Rose. Best home run hitter of all time is Barry Bonds. Neither are in the Hall of Fame. Does that mean they were not successful?

Are you seeing how difficult this can be? It all comes down to your view of success. Maybe success looks like your parents because of the way they raised you and you love them. I know my dad makes my list even though he never made much money in his life. Yet, I view him as very successful just based on who he was and how he was.

If you have children, how do they see you? If you have employees, what are their thoughts about you not only as a Leader, but also as a successful person?

Success to me comes in all sorts of costumes. My challenge is to simply define what true success means to me and then to try and follow my heart.

Walter Bond at www.walterbond.com says you should surround yourself with successful people because you will rise (or fall) to the level of the five people you hang out with the most.

Think about it the next few days. Who are your five? Better yet, how do you define what those five are all about? This will give you a better indication of what you are all about. You might surprise yourself. You might just change your entire focus of what type of a Leader you really need to be.

Leadership Lessons on Second Chances

The news came last Friday – The Chosen One has returned. No, this week’s story is not about religion. It is about second chances. Leaders understand that life is about second chances. Sometimes you need to get second chances. Sometimes you need to give second chances.

LeBron James revealed on Friday that he was going home. The young man from Akron, who has blossomed into the best basketball player on the planet, was headed back home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. I lived in a Cleveland suburb in the early 80s when the pro teams were looking to win a championship. The Browns, in their quest to make it to the Super Bowl, lost in the closing minute, a play immortalized as “The Fumble.” The basketball team was nicknamed the “Cadavers.” When the Cavs finally got better and were vying for an NBA Championship Michael Jordan, with time expiring, made what became a poster for so many young men, “The Shot,” at the expense of Cleveland.

Now LeBron is returning home. It has been 50 years since the city has seen a professional championship. I remember, however, the scenes when he left Cleveland for South Beach and the ridiculous press conference in South Beach with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The fans in Cleveland reacted like this. Fast-forward to last week. Now Heat fans are burning his jersey in Miami, even though he brought them two NBA Championships.

What does this have to do with leadership? Everything! Leaders get it. Leaders understand people forget. They may say, “I’ll never forget what you did, NEVER.” Leaders know, however, that people are fickle. They forget. And they forgive.

Personally, it is hard for me to just let things roll off my back. I realize that it is because I’m still on my journey to being a good leader and I have a lot to learn. Although I shouldn’t – I do take some things personally even though it is just business. Yes, still in my baby stages in leadership at times I think.

What about you?

Are you where you need to be as a leader? Do you need to make amends to anyone like LeBron has made amends to Cleveland? Should you rehire someone? Is there a family member or coworker who needs to hear from you because of something that happened previously in life? Has anyone come to you looking for a second chance?

Leaders know how to say, “I’m sorry . . . my fault . . . I was wrong . . .let’s try this again.” You see this in sports, you especially see it in politics, and you see it in life—second chances. Leaders have a tendency to jump in and make decisions (sometimes too quickly). But leaders aren’t afraid to make decisions.

Think of the biggest failures in American history: Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Abraham Lincoln and Babe Ruth. These four leaders have failed more than anyone can imagine. Each has failed many more times than you or me. Yet, they believed in second chances. They moved past their failures into some of the biggest, most notable successes in history.

Quick example: Edison is credited as harnessing electricity and has some other 1,093 U.S. patents. Walk around your office or home and see where you would be without electricity. Better yet, next time you have a power outage think about how dependent we are on what this inventor, this person who needed second chances, was able to accomplish.

What about us? In what aspects of our lives do we need second chances? Do we believe that our greatest successes are still ahead of us?

In Cleveland, there is a two-year-old little boy, Noah (my grandson) who is becoming a huge sports fan. His dad taught him how to hit a golf ball and to putt. When he makes a putt he says, “Just like Tiger Woods.” Tiger is another person who needed second chances. Soon, Noah will learn how to shoot free throws and say, “Just like LeBron.” I’m glad the King has returned to Cleveland. I’m glad he was a leader who believes in second chances!

If you have any interest in the 8-minute story of LeBron’s return, enjoy this YouTube video.