Top 10 Lessons in Leadership from Elon Musk

Randy Ottinger, Executive Vice President at Kotter International, said of Elon Musk: “Elon Musk is an inventor and builder wrapped into one; kind of like a combination of Benjamin Franklin and Steve Jobs on steroids.” Assuredly, Musk is a magnificent one-of-a kind leader in today’s changing world. In her Predictive Success article, Top 10 in Leadership, author, Kelly-Ann Lahey shares Musk’s top 10 lessons in leadership.

Lesson  #1. Lead by Example
Lesson  #2. Lead with Purpose
Lesson  #3. Be Creative
Lesson  #4. Be Collaborative
Lesson  #5. Encourage Innovation
Lesson  #6. Be Decisive
Lesson  #7. Be Comfortable with Change
Lesson  #8. Hire Carefully
Lesson  #9. Set Exceptionally High Standards
Lesson #10. Put the Right People in the Right Role

Musk’s lessons reflect his life learning from his personal experience of leadership. He has gone through the harsh realities of difficulties and failures to understand how each of these lessons has impacted his career and life and how they can affect others. His selfless sharing of these lessons allows both him and the recipient to continue to learn the lessons of leadership through his new-found perspectives. May his lessons serve as seeds to each of us to further grow and develop our own leadership skills, talents and knowledge that we, too, can be “an inventor and builder wrapped into one.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Our Relentless Commitment to Never, Ever Give Up

Ceaselessness is a relentless passion to achieve. It embodies a mindset where obstacles are not perceived as insurmountable, but merely things to be overcome. It is a magical combination of resilience and persistence and one of the foundation pillars of great leadership.

In a recent leadership workshop at Seton Hall University, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author, John Gallucci, filled the room with excitement and passion as he inspired his audience of future leaders.  His message was powerful and simple: Believe in yourself and your infinite possibilities and have a relentless self-commitment to never, ever to give up. Knowing your mission, passion and what you love to do, he said, are the keys to a highly successful  and happy life. He shared six essential elements that powerfully capture the ‘how’ of achieving that success: preparation, risk and sacrifice, networking and relationships, doing what others won’t, investing in our team and people and learning from mistakes.

He asked his audience: “Are you able?” What able-ities make you able?” His beautiful response to the latter question was a list of able-ities: adaptable, accountable, absorbable, capable, employable, impressionable, knowledgeable, marketable, presentable and valuable. These are the game changers that great leaders possess that not just tell people their dreams, but show them the realities of their dreams. He captured his own recipe for personal success in his words: “I have done what others have not. I can do what others could not. I will do what others will not.” In his concluding remarks, Gallucci cautioned the team: “If you don’t build a dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.

Dream your dreams! Build them into extraordinary realities. May you also passionately and proudly say: “I have done what others have not. I can do what others could not. I will do what others will not.” Choose to be more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Purpose and Passion

An inspiring quote from an unknown author tells great leaders… Purpose is the reason for your journey. Passion is the fire that lights the way.” In their book, The Power of Moments, Chip Heath and Dan Heath share the research of Morten Hansen in his recent book, Great at Work: How Top Performers Work Less and Accomplish More. They write that Morten distinguished between purpose and passion: Purpose is defined as the sense that you are contributing to others, that your work has broader meaning. Passion is the feeling of excitement or enthusiasm you have about your work.” Morten wanted to know which contributed to greater job performance.

Morten grouped people into categories, e.g., people who were low and high on purpose, and people who were low and high on passion, and asked managers to rank their performance. The following are his findings.

The authors write about this work: “The outcome is clear. Purpose trumps over passion…. Passion is individualistic. It can energize us but also isolate us because my passion isn’t yours. By contrast, purpose is something that people can share. It can knit groups together.” Purpose is the beautiful “why” that inspires and provides direction to the lives of great leaders. Passion is the magnificent fire that lights the journey with excitement, joy and exhilaration. It is the magical blend that can change the world. Howard Schultz captures the magic in their synergy saying: “When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” Live your magnificent life with purpose and passion… every beautiful moment. They are all so fleeting.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Asking a Better Question

Tony Robbins said: “Successful people ask better questions and, as a result, they get better answers.W. Edwards Deming adds to this writing: “If you don’t know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.” Great leaders understand the power of asking the “right” question. They know that what you ask is what you get. A simple example helps demonstrate this. When confronted with an obstacle or wall that impedes progress, the question could be asked: “How can I get around this wall?” A better question could be posed as: “ Once I get around this wall, what new wonders will I be able to realize to fulfill my dreams?” The better question creates new possibilities and better solutions.

In his book, The Flight of the Eagle, Jiddu Krishnamurti tells great leaders: “To ask the right question is far more important than to receive the answer. The solution of a problem lies in the understanding of the problem; the answer is not outside the problem, it is in the problem.” The formulation of the “right” question is one of exploration, open-mindedness and big-picture thinking, one emanating from our priorities and purpose… what we think is what we are.  As Bernard Baruch said: “Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.” Be that one who asks why.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On Seeking First to Understand

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” wrote Leonardo Da Vinci.  John F. Kennedy said: “Too often, we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” Great leaders  recognize that, sometimes, opinions – theirs and others –  are not fact-based but simply expressions of their world-view. They realize that their ability to LISTEN and process information objectively allows them to have a greater understanding of the realities around them. It is this beautiful and robust openness to different perspectives and ideas that differentiates them and enables them to introduce and realize change.

Mother Teresa tells us: “The openness of our hearts and minds can be measured by how wide we draw the circle of what we call family.” May the circle we draw be wonderfully expansive and inclusive that our eyes, ears and heart are opened widely to possibilities and realities yet unseen. May we remember that we don’t see things as they are, but as we are. It is the responsibility of great leaders to stand in the shoes of others that, as Stephen Covey tells us, they “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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On the Power of a Simple Act of Kindness

“Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around,” writes Leo Buscaglia.  It is the small things of life that give joy, happiness and magic. From one of nature’s beautiful moments to a caring word uttered that changes someone’s life forever, these are the moments that last for a lifetime. Cherish them with gratitude, humility and joy. May you give them unconditionally and abundantly with caring and love. Lao Tzu reminds us: Seek happiness in small things, you will find life more beautiful.”

Remember also the gentle wisdom from Winnie-the-Pooh: “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” Fill your life and the lives of others with small and beautiful gifts… the small things… any one of which could change a life forever. You have this magnificent and awesome power. It is these little things you do in life that make life big… for the lives of those whom you touch and for your own.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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The 5 Second Rule for a Happier New Year

Tony Robbins tells us: “The one thing we have in this world is we can’t control the events, but we can choose what to focus on, we can choose what things mean and we can choose what to do. Those three choices, those three decisions really control our life.” It is the great leader who takes extreme ownership of these choices, for they know that nothing, or everything, happens until they choose to act.

In her video, Retrain Your Mind, Mel Robbins states: “The way that our brains are wired and the fact about human beings, we are designed not to do things that are uncomfortable, or scary or difficult. Our brains are designed to protect us from those things.” Achieving great success, however, is almost always accomplished by doing the uncomfortable, going outside of our comfort zone and confronting  the difficult and scary. Robbins proposes a simple and powerful tool for great leaders in those exacting moments of choice – The 5 Second Rule.

The 5 Second Rule  states: “The moment you have an instinct (the ‘knowing’ that you should do something even if you don’t ‘feel’ like doing it) to act on a goal, you must push yourself to move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.” It is the countdown we give to ourselves – five, four, three, two, one and go – the decisive, few seconds to take action – to take control – before our survival brain kicks in to keep us in our comfort zone. Very simplistically, it could be our alarm clock ringing in the morning – a choice to get out of bed or press the snooze button a few more times. Five, four, three, two, one – a decision about what I should do or let my comfortable brain and human nature take the easier road and press the button. It can be a magnificent tool.  “Your life comes down to your decisions. You change your decisions; you change everything,” Robbins writes. And in five seconds, we have that power to change everything.

At the beginning of this beautiful new year of your magnificent life’s journey, may you pause and reflect on how you will define what success will be at its end – in the joy, beauty, happiness, wisdom and passion of who you are; in the dreams you made reality; in your inspiration and caring for those whom you serve; in your understanding or your life’s purpose and meaning; in your love of those who you touch; in your life and passion for all that life offers; in your love of the One who created you. May you choose to grasp and embrace every precious moment this New Year offers… with passion, love and caring. May it be our best year yet! The best is yet to come.

Have a beautiful day, a magnificent week and a Happy New Year!!!

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Peace and Love to You and Yours

It is that wonderful time of year again when the holiday spirit fills our mind and heart, and gently moves us away from the hectic pace of our lives… when we pause, reflect in the quiet of our souls and find a warm and soothing peace within ourselves. While results and commitments are no less important, holiday activities – gift buying and preparing for family and friends get-togethers – begin to take precedence in our list of priorities.

The world around us contributes to our change: stores are wonderfully decorated; holiday music streams from radios and iPods; home decorations appear. Our world is transformed around us to one of festivity and joyful tranquility. It is a time of peace. As Norman Vincent Peale, minister and author, once said, it is as though the holiday season “waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Yes, it is a time of “joy to the world.”

Memories fill us. We remember the joys of our youth and the people who were and are integral parts of our lives and happiness. There is sadness for those we love and are no longer with us. This gentle memory of them, however, is our gift to them, and theirs to us.  It is our way of saying to them: “I love you forever and will never forget you… never.” We embrace those around us and share with each other a very special gift of love. Hamilton Wright Mabie, essayist, captured this wonderful spirit of the season: “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

Let us enjoy and take great learning from this magnificent and beautiful time. Let us all be embraced in this conspiracy of love. As Eva Logue writes, may you be as a candle which “makes no noise at all, but slowly gives itself away.” May this be your greatest gift to others and yourself – that in quiet reflection, you see with brilliant clarity the happiness and joy in the endless possibilities that life offers to which you will aspire.

May we pause in gratitude for all that we have, for what others have given us – our family, friends, those whom we serve, our God – and remember fervently that ours is the joy of giving, serving and caring. These are our greatest gifts. Let us join together every moment of our lives in a beautiful and magnificent “conspiracy of love.” Life is so very precious. Capture and embrace it with passion, joy, exuberance and love.

May you and yours have a joyous and beautiful Holiday Season, a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and may this New Year be the best yet – for you, your loved ones and the many people whom you serve.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

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Extreme Ownership

In their book, Extreme Ownership, former Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, write about the power of extreme ownership as a critical element in highly successful leadership. “This concept,” they write, “is the number-one characteristic of any high-performance winning team…. It mandates that a leader set ego aside, accept responsibility for failures, attack weaknesses and consistently work to build a better and more effective team.

Great leaders own and embrace their accountability and responsibility for everything that happens or doesn’t happen in their organization, team or family… “the leader must own everything in his or her world.” It is about everything. As Molière wrote: “It is not only what we do, but also what we do not, for which we are held accountable.”

When situations do occur, it starts with great leaders looking first into a mirror and asking what they could or should have done about the situation. This inward look requires courage and humility to accept responsibility when things go wrong. Ego is set aside and blame is accepted. In this selfless act, great leadership is demonstrated and a heroic model of ownership and accountability is given to those served. Harry Truman powerfully captured the concept of extreme ownership in his words: “The buck stops here.”

Willink and Babin conclude by sharing their thoughts on The Dichotomy of Leadership.

A good leader must be: confident but not cocky; courageous but not foolhardy; competitive but a gracious loser; attentive to details but not obsessed by them; strong but have endurance;?a leader and follower; humble not passive; aggressive not overbearing; quiet not silent; calm but not robotic; logical but not devoid of emotions; close with the troops but not so close that one becomes more important than another or more important than the good of the team; not so close that they forget who is in charge; able to execute Extreme Ownership while exercising decentralized command. A good leader has nothing to prove, but everything to prove.

May you be a great leader, not just a good leader. Be more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more. You are the best!

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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Beyond a Life of Success… A Life of Significance

It’s not what we get, but who we become, what we contribute…that gives meaning to our lives” writes Tony Robbins. John Maxwell adds greater depth to those words saying: “Success is when I add value to myself. Significance is what I add value to others.” And Oprah Winfrey writes: “The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance.”

Living a life of significance goes far beyond the personal successes of achieving wealth, recognition or power. While achieving these things is laudable and gives testimony to finding and applying the gifts within each of us, there is more, another step beyond success. It is living a life of purpose and meaning, of giving oneself to others that they may grow. Ken Blanchard writes “If that’s all you’re focused on, you’re missing the boat… if you focus on significance – using your time and talent to serve others – that’s when truly meaningful success can come your way.” On your magnificent life’s journey may you remember the words of a beautiful quote attributed to William Shakespeare: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” May all your dreams be realized in living your significance.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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