Many people dream of stepping forward, taking on a leadership role, and leading a team to glorious victory. However, a leader cannot expect to do this effectively without first making a commitment to what we at Fired-Up! Culture call “leading self.” Otherwise, any wins or gains will be short-lived.
Leading self involves cultivating self-discipline, remaining dedicated to one’s core values, respecting oneself and others, appreciating the value of hard work, and more. It’s an ongoing process, not a set of lessons to be quickly absorbed and applied. And, it isn’t always easy, though the rewards are great.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Unknown
Perhaps you’re beginning the important work of leading self or taking the next steps in a long journey. Either way, these foundational books will help you broaden your perspective while building and keeping your commitments.
Book 1: The Richest Man in Babylon
I frequently recommend a book by George S Clason titled The Richest Man in Babylon. Originally published in 1926, it’s still in print today because its lessons are timeless. The book is made up of a series of parables set in the ancient world that offer advice on building personal wealth.
Near the beginning, two friends are having a conversation and arrive at a realization that they’ve both been working their whole lives but have very little to show for all their labor. They’ve been getting through, but they never got ahead.
One of the reasons is because they never committed to growing their own wealth. “In those things toward which we exerted our best endeavors we succeeded. The Gods were content to let us continue thus. Now, at last, we see a light, bright like that from the rising sun. It biddeth us to learn more that we may prosper more. With a new understanding, we shall find honorable ways to accomplish our desires.”
As the tale continues, The Richest Man in Babylon outlines a series of guidelines for the intentional use of money. It covers self-discipline, the power of saving, the importance of hard work, and about growing your personal capacity. It also illustrates the importance of turning to wise people for counsel.
It helps to think of money as a metaphor for any resource you might possess, including time and energy. There’s often a temptation to take things as they come, but that approach often allows opportunities to slip casually through your fingers. As a leader, it’s important to thoughtfully manage what’s available to you, so you can better serve yourself and your team members.
Book 2: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World
Another book that leaders cannot afford to miss out on is Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe the World by four-star Navy admiral, William H. McRaven. It parallels nicely with the messages in The Richest Man in Babylon, offering 10 lessons to help people overcome life’s challenges. The book was inspired by a commencement speech McRaven gave at the University of Texas at Austin, if you’d like to take a look.
McRaven had long background as a military officer, included organizing and overseeing the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed. He built the 10 lessons in his book based on his experience going through Navy SEAL training. But, these lessons expand well to help with life and leadership.
The title of the book comes from McRaven’s assertion that small, intentional steps performed regularly add up to big results. “Making my bed correctly was not going to be an opportunity for praise. It was expected of me. It was my first task of the day, and doing it right was important. It demonstrated my discipline. It showed my attention to detail, and at the end of the day it would be a reminder that I had done something well, something to be proud of, no matter how small the task.”
Book 3: The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy
As an accompaniment to the previous two books, I also recommend taking time to read The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. This book pinpoints the common behaviors and traits shared by those who accumulate large amounts of wealth. It also offers wisdom on building the small habits that can be so meaningful over the long term.
“Have you ever noticed those people whom you see jogging day after day? They are the ones who seem not to need to jog. But that’s why they are fit. Those who are wealthy work at staying financially fit. But those who are not financially fit do little to change their status.”― The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy
One of the most useful things you can do as a leader is to be intentional about how you use the resources you’ve been given. Along these lines, Tim recently wrote a blog post titled 168 Hours: What You Do with Them Makes All the Difference. In it, he shines a light on time management, making a case for detailed planning and organization. Otherwise, time has a way of simply slipping away.
The very first commitment any leader makes should be to themself. Read as much as you can, invest in your growth, and be intentional about not letting your resources go to waste. Doing so will make you a stronger leader and a better person.
Are you ready to take further steps to lead yourself and develop your own purpose, skills, and abilities? Download our free eBook now.
Author, Speaker, and Change Agent.
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.