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    I first heard this over 30 years ago when I was listening to cassette tapes by the personal development guru, Zig Ziglar. The words spoke to me then and they speak to me now.

    Ten years ago, someone told me about something that had “literally, changed their life.” It was a video called ‘The Secret’. I was interested so looked into it. My memory of the the premise of the documentary was, if you really want something, all you have to do is ask the universe for it and it will somehow appear.

    Now, I really believe in positive thinking, creating a vision for the future and self belief. But the thing about The Secret that bothered me was, it seemed that all you had to do was ask for something and it would turn up. You could be sitting on your lounge in your track pants, eating chips and BOOM, your dream job would land in your lap. I didn’t buy it (the concept or the video).

    Back to Zig Ziglar’s tapes. 10 two letter words that can change your life. My take on this was that if you want something great, like a dream job, a big house, a fulfilling career or a great relationship, then fundamentally the responsibility is yours. Sitting back, waiting for good things to happen – expecting others, the government, or the universe to grant them to you is futile.

    Sorry folks, but from my point of view, there is no substitute for developing a vision for the future based on what you are passionate about, good planning and hard work.

    Are you taking personal responsibility for the way your life is turning out?



    American author and speaker, Jim Rohn is known for his motivational quotes. I am a fan of many of them, but this one is my favourite. “You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” Let’s unpack that a bit as it has implications for all of us, particularly if you want to get better at leadership.
    If you spend most of your time with negative people, it follows that your mood might also be brought down. If you spend time with positive people, you probably feel uplifted by them. Jim Rohn reckons that if you could measure either the negativity or positivity of all five, you would be the average of the group. I’m not aware of any scientific evidence to back the claim up, but I certainly believe the sentiment of it.
    If you want to be fitter and healthier, start hanging around people that value fitness and health. If you want to be a speaker or an author, find groups of like minded people and spend time in their company. Many of us, by the nature of our chosen careers, spend time with fellow work mates and colleagues, so it may be a challenge to spend time with others beyond this group. But this is a choice that we can make if we want it bad enough.
    People who aspire to be more effective in their leadership need to spend time in the company of others who want the same thing. Here are some ideas and options that might result in you widening your current circle of contacts.
    • Find a coach or mentor and have some one on one sessions to challenge your thinking and create a bigger picture.
    • Join your professional industry association and attend regular meetings and conferences.
    • Become a board member of a charity or not for profit. Your fellow board members are there because of the expertise they bring and you will learn from them.


    I'm not much of an historian, and certainly not a military historian, but the name of Field Marshall William Slim keeps coming up in my leadership reading. Slim commanded a British field army in Burma fighting the Japanese in the '40s. Here are some things that Slim did that made him highly effective as a leader, despite being low profile.

    1. Keep it simple. Slim regularly received 100 pages of orders when what he really needed was five. He writes in his book that the most important part of an order was the 'commander's intent'. I'd call that vision.

    2. Establish a battle rhythm. Despite spending three and a half years fighting the Japanese, when at the time an 12 month deployment was more common, Slim maintained his energy and focus by exercising, reading and sleeping. He trusted his men to handle things while he rested.

    3. Planning is everything and nothing. Slim was a mad planner and made sure of everything before going into battle. Even then, not everything went to plan and when it didn't, he was flexible about changing.

    4. Ruthlessly enforce standards.  Slim made it known exactly what he expected and ruthlessly followed through. His people responded and he achieved results. For example, malaria was rife at the time and was a major threat to his troops. He banned shorts and short sleeves to protect against mosquitos.

    Here's my favourite quote from Slim.

    "When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take, choose the bolder."



    One of the best stories to come out of the Rio Olympics was the gold medal won by 24 year old Sydney woman, Chloe Esposito in the Women's Modern Pentathlon. I must admit I didn't know much about the event until I saw a video about Chloe's miraculous win. Click here to see the 4 minute video. It's worth it!

    Here are some details about the event and how it's just like leadership.

    1. Success is not determined by one thing. There are five components to the event and the winner is the one that wins the last one, which is handicapped based on results of your performance in the others. Leadership is not a sprint, it's a marathon.

    2. The five disciplines are diverse - 200 metre freestyle swimming, fencing, show jumping (that's on a horse!), and finally a 3,200 metre cross country run interspersed with four rounds of pistol shooting. Being a super star at one thing won't get you the gold medal. Leadership success comes from consistent effort across a number of disciplines.

    3. Composure under pressure. The final round called the Run and Shoot is a massive challenge as competitors are fatigued and distressed from the physical exertion of the run, but then have to compose themselves enough (mentally and physically) to hit five targets with an air pistol, as fast as possible. Oh, and they do that four times! Chloe hit her 20 targets with 21 shots! Leaders need to be calm under pressure.

    4. You can't control everything. A little known fact about the little known event is that the horse a competitor rides in the show jumping is not theirs! There is a random draw for horses so a rider has to deal with what the are given. Leaders can control some things, but not everything.

    5. It's hard. All components of the Modern Pentathlon are held on ONE day. They start early, they finish late. It is a massive challenge, both physical and mental, and a test of character and resolve. Leading is not easy.

    Well done Chloe Esposito!



    Leadership is about positively influencing others.

    In order to influence others, you need to have a good relationship with them.

    One of the best ways to establish and strengthen relationships is for there to be trust between the parties.

    Trust comes from reliability.

    Ultimately, being reliable means that you do what you say you are going to do.

    If you want to be an effective leader, you must deliver on your promises.

    I don't think it gets simpler than that!