Over the years, numerous people have asked me how I got started in the speaking, coaching, and writing business. The journey actually started while I was running my organization and approaching total burnout. I was a one-man show doing everything in my organization. In my leadership conferences I called myself “SUPER KEITH.” If anything needed done, it was Super Keith to the rescue. The day my life changed was when I went to another organization and saw the CEO actually allowing others to do the work. I thought to myself, I can’t even get a handful of people to work like that for me. At the end of the meeting with the CEO, I was given a cassette tape by John Maxwell on leadership. After listening to the tape, I realized I had to develop and grow my leadership competence.
Up until that moment, I never saw myself as a leader. I thought, like most people, that leaders are just “naturally born,” and I was not fortunate enough to be chosen. However, this challenged me to become a leader and that leadership is a skill that can be developed.
Leadership is both taught and caught. One of my mentors, John Kelly, is a natural leader; he was raised by a father who built some of the largest bridges in America. As his father modeled leadership skills, John caught those skills that he needed. However, in my childhood, I did not have a role model father from whom I could catch leadership skills; so, I had to be taught.
Most people do not realize how important it is to learn leadership skills. In order to lead, you must be willing to get out front—to be assertive, bold, willing to take risks, and secure in your own skin. Power, influence, and financial rewards go to the person who will take a step out from the timid crowd of followers and have the confidence to point the way into the future. Developing yourself as a confident leader is the solution to reinventing your life, growing your ministry, exploding your business, and skyrocketing your income.
In order to lead, you must be willing to climb out on the edge of the branch where all the fruit is. Followers hug the trunk of the tree because they are afraid to step out onto the limb. Lead connotes “being out front.” It takes confidence, chutzpah, to get out front!
Learn About Leadership from Leaders
Caught up in a leadership vacuum, people will follow anybody who is willing to get in front. If those who are trying to lead are poor examples, they can cause some serious damage to those who are following them. History gives us many stories of people who produced both good and bad examples from whom we can learn. The truism that fits here is, “Those who do not know history are apt to repeat it.” You can learn from the failures of history’s leaders and even those leaders around you. Take the time to sit down with somebody who has failed dramatically but is now stronger than ever and ask, “How did you get to this point in life?” You can also learn from success. Ask a successful leader, “How did you do it?” Leaders love to talk about themselves and share their experiences and wisdom.
Everyone will be remembered for the example they left behind—good or bad. Make sure you are remembered as a good one.
I can categorize everyone on earth into three “success” categories:
- No Success: These people will go to their graves and never taste the fruit of success. The FUD in their lives keeps them from taking the first step in their journey toward success. These people live their entire lives in a continual struggle to survive. They are inward-focused because all they can think about is themselves and how they are going to pay their bills.
- Temporary Success: These people experience a level of success. Their confidence and competence has moved them up the ladder of success. However, their success is only temporary due to their lack of character. Eventually, their character causes them to slip off the mountain of success, crashing and burning back into the valley of survival.
- Lasting Success: These people become and remain successful throughout their entire lifetimes. Yes, they may experience temporary setbacks or even horrific failures, but they have the confidence and character to rebound, to maintain success, and to push beyond mere success to make a lasting impact and leave an impressive legacy for others to follow.