Have you ever read a book that completely changed the way you think? That reoriented you and stunned you and pushed you to go places you’d never gone before?
I had that experience recently after reading Jordan Zimmerman’s book Leading Fearlessly: Transform Your Life and Find Success.
This book singlehandedly revolutionized how I think about life and leadership. Why was this book so powerful? Here are three killer lessons I took away.
Lesson #1: Be Insanely Committed
Zimmerman begins his book by stating that he is insane. Sounds kind of odd, right? But he goes on to explain that he is insanely committed to everything: his life, his job, his customers, his health, and anything else he sets his mind to.
He used this “all insanity all the time” approach to build his ad agency into the 14th largest agency is the United States, with $3 billion in annual billings. He feels that life is too short to be anything less than all in on whatever he’s doing.
Growing up, he saw too many people who dreaded going to work every day, and he resolved that he would create a career for himself that he could be passionate about and love deeply. He resolved to make a mark on the world and have a blast doing it.
How did he do this?
By being insanely committed to building something that set his bones on fire.
But here’s the thing: building a dream takes a lot of sacrifice, and Zimmerman is convinced that most people just aren’t that dedicated. If you want to build the life of your dreams, you’ve got to be insanely committed, which means being responsible for achieving your goals. There are no shortcuts or workarounds. If you’re not completely focused on building your dream career, you won’t achieve what you want.
When Zimmerman’s agency lost a $40 million account, he told his board room not to fire a single person or cut payroll. Instead, he said that he was going to hit the road for the next 4-6 months to bring in the amount they lost. Within 4 months, he had secured $45 million in new business.
Lesson #2: Drop The Excuses
If you’re running your own business, you don’t have the luxury of excuses. The buck stops with you and everything's your fault. No blame shifting or trying to paint others in a bad light.
Zimmerman says that true leaders don’t make excuses, they accept responsibility for everything, and they jump at the chance to celebrate the victories of their teammates.
Additionally, true leaders don’t use position or pride as an excuse for not doing a particular job. If you’re going to be successful and insanely committed, you’ll do whatever it takes. No job is too small, no job too unimportant.
When Zimmerman’s agency lost the $40 million account, he could have blamed his team and then told his sales reps to hit the road immediately. Instead, he took a pay cut until the agency won more business. He didn’t make excuses, he took massive action. He worked tirelessly to build trust in his industry, and eventually, it paid off.
Lesson #3: Fear Is Fuel
Fear can affect leaders in one of two ways. It can paralyze them and push them into a corner, keeping them from doing the things that matter most. Or, it can be used as fuel to propel them to previously unimagined heights.
Fear is the great enemy of success. It keeps us from taking risks and prioritizes comfort over big accomplishments.
Zimmerman is fond of saying, “Don’t let a naysayer live rent free in your head.” In other words, don’t let your brain hijack with your negative, fearful self-talk. Don’t let the fear of what might happen keep you from actually making things happen. Rather, use the fear as fuel to push yourself further.
Zimmerman refers to the “inspiration of desperation”. When you find yourself in fearful, desperate situations, you’ll often discover new sources of inspiration that you hadn’t seen before. You’ll be forced to think creatively and strategically, which can lead you to places you wouldn’t have gone otherwise. This inspiration born of desperation often leads to massive breakthroughs.
If you’re constantly running from fear, you’ll never encounter this profound desperation, which leads to profound inspiration. Fear must be your fuel.
Are You All In?
Zimmerman’s book forced me to look myself in the mirror and ask tough questions. Am I all in on what I’m doing? Am I willing to be insanely committed to creating something all your own? Do I shrink back from tough situations because I don’t want to face my fears?
Dale Carnegie said, “If you want to conquer fear, don't sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
What about you? Are you going to conquer your fears through intense commitment or sit at home and think about it? I know which I’ll choose.
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