‘A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business’

When researching attributes of what you may to succeed in business: money, determination and commitment are three aspects that brought up by an article in Forbes. But in reality, is that what makes your business career? Bob Burg and John David Mann certainly do not think so. The co-authored short story on “what matters most in business” is quite the page-turner on great business ethics. It’s Not About You takes the reader through the life of the main character, Ben, a corporate closer with the reputation of high-priority mergers. Proceeding with his current challenge of merging a failing family-owned furniture company with his current employer, the corporate conglomerate, turns out to be quite the endeavor. With the mindset of how he can turn them into thinking he knows what is best for them, he is met with the opposing mindset of many other characters, one being a discretely mannered woman. With these 5 key principles of “legendary leadership”, Ben’s “I know what’s right for them” mentality takes a 180 degree turn.

Hold the Vision

Being able to lead with your mind, not your wallet, is an aspect that takes many years of practice. It’s not a something that is learned overnight. Anyone can come up with a vision, but holding it, takes talent. You need a team of people to truly believe in your vision to succeed in business. Also never forgetting where you came from is key. If you’ve come from a wealthy family is New York, or the tough farmlands of Iowa, remember where you’ve come from. This will help you stay grounded whether times are tough or your company is doubling in bounds.* And lastly, watch your personal pronouns. It’s not all about me. I can’t do everything by myself. I need help from peers and mentors to point me in the right direction.

Build Your People

As the well-educated Aristotle says: ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to rest satisfied with the degree of precision which the nature of the subject admits, and not to seek acacdtness where only an approximation is possible.’ Reread that a few times to make sure you fully understand that quote. It took five times for me to fully grasp the concept. If yielding more leads to greater satisfaction, influence and power, it seems like a simple concept—but takes time and great effort on your part. Also knowing that just because yielding is giving—it is does not perceive giving. Yielding is giving away power that you could have, and getting even more in return. Another concept in ‘building your people’ is influence. A direct quote from the The Go Giver that also shows up in this text says it this way: ‘your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.’ Coming to the realization that your interests are what really matter first, is truly mature in mind.

Do the Work

A decision, does not mean having all the information at hand and then considering all the options. I personally think that the text puts it well: ‘..If you had all the information, there’d be nothing to it. But sometimes you have to decide, even when you don’t have all the information.’ Keeping this in mind, decision are difficult, some college courses are taught solely on this life skill. Know a bit more about this newly found definition, hopefully helps gain more insight into the thought process.*

It has been said, ‘the second you think you are humble-minded, you are not’. Thinking of humility from the Latin root word, humus, literally meaning “grounded”, “from the earth” or “low”, may help put the term into perspective. ‘The more humble you are, the more personal power you have.’ This quote comes from one of the characters in the book, helping another grasp the concept that if you remember your ‘muddy’ beginnings, you will be truly humble.
‘Leaders don’t expect anyone else to do anything they haven’t done themselves. They get dirt under their nails and mud under their boots…’, meaning leaders have been through thick and thin. With this humbling mindset, you can believe that most, if not all leaders, have gotten where they are today because of the work they put in. In other words, the subheading is very fitting, do the work.

Stand for Something

‘Leadership is not something you can put on and take off, like a set of clothes. Your capacity to influence is not something you can rehearse, like a speech in a play.’ Similarly, ‘You can lead only as far as you grow. And you will only grow as far as you let yourself.’ I throw these two quotes from the text in because I believe they are key to growing as a leader.

Alongside this, competence matters, but character matters more. Character matters more because it’s what happens when no one is watching. It’s what happens ‘when life scratches itself onto your soul’.

Share the Mantle

Before you get too high up on your mantle, share the wealth—did you really get where you are today by yourself? Are great parenting skills based on the parent or the child? Is great teaching based upon the teacher or the student? It happens to leaders all the time. Once people start looking to you for advice, guidance, hope and dreams, you start becoming a container for their intangible product. Becoming overwhelmed by a self-redeemer mindset, you tend to think of yourself as the deal. The text puts it in other words, leaders tend to get in backwards after awhile. ‘Sharing the mantle’ helps divide up the glorified works, letting yourself become self-conceded. Because ‘the best way to increase your influence is to give it away’, meaning you can be a greater influence by giving away the responsibly—by giving away way you may hold closest.

In summarizing these five principles of “legendary leadership”; it’s ultimately determined by your own self interest in the matter. My hope is that you have been challenged to take a deeper look at what matters most in business. My challenge to you is to take the time, read this powerful short story—it may make you look at business differently, it may make you look at life differently. Bob Burg and John David Mann have created a wonderful book and I hope to have shed some light on what I have learned from the book, while giving proper credit to the authors that created a work of art.


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