Four Fingers and a Thumb

The good folks at the blog Leadership and Influence have posted a piece by Bob Burg and me called “The Five Keys to Legendary Leadership.” Here’s a brief excerpt: There have been a thousand good books on leadership, and will be a thousand more. But for all we describe it and study it, it still seems elusive — which is why it so often surprises us when a truly great leader appears in our midst. Why so elusive? In part, because great leadership is shot through with contradiction… The piece talks about “the four fingers and thumb of leadership.” That is, the first four principles are strong, they have validity — but trying to implement them without the fifth is like trying to pick up and use a tool with just your fingers, and no thumb. Like the thumb, that fifth principle is, in a sense, “opposed” to the other four principles. Yet it’s what makes them useful and effective. What is that thumb, that fifth principle? In a nutshell, or perhaps more aptly, in a thumbnail: it’s not about you. Here is the heart of the contradiction that is great leadership: great leadership isn’t a place you arrive, it is a place into which you disappear. Ahh, contradiction and paradox: always a whiff of a clue that you might be onto...

Fireflies and Shaken Sleeves

Kat Kiddles, a self-described “globetrotting bookworm with a tendency to overthink the scientifically unexplainable,” is one of a handful of reviewers at the site, The Uncustomary Book Review. Kat (whose bio on the site observes that she believes in “unicorns; sales; and the health benefits of coffee”) asked me some months ago if I would submit to their Featured Author review procedure. I told her I would be glad to … um, soon. Real soon. Kat waited. And waited. And after she had patiently waited for weeks and weeks … she waited some more. Finally last week I sat down in a hastily snatched odd moment and wrote out answers to all her questions in a dash, without premeditation (or for that matter, any postmeditation, either). One question, for example, was, “What are writers for?” I wrote: When I set up my website some years back, I started the home page with this: “Jedi knights roam the universe helping to set things right. What I do is something like that—the difference being, I help set things write.” Much like creating illumination in a darkened night by catching fireflies and putting them in a closed jar, writers capture the feelings, shapes and tastes of experiences that we all have and somehow, through the alchemy of words (those remarkable closed jars), make those experiences translucent, sometimes even transparent. Joan Didion wrote, “I write to find out what I think.” Here’s what I think: we live to find out who we are—and writers help us gain insight into both the “live” and “are” sides of the equation. Another of Kat’s questions: “Describe your...

Turned Tables

After twenty-one and a half years of being a journalist chronicling the development of the network marketing world and writing about its successful leaders, I just for the very first time switched seats and became the interviewee, rather than interviewer. Yup: one of the journals I write for has done a cover story on me rather than by me. The September/October edition of Networking Times is focused on the theme, “writing as the new social medium,” so not surprisingly, they wanted to interview writers. Here is the result. Note: Although normally you need a paid subscription to view Networking Times’s feature stories, for this story they have given me the link above, just for you here on this blog. (Sweet.) You do need to register yourself on the site to read the article (which in essence means creating a username and pasword)—but do not need a paid subscription. Thanks, Networking...