Looking Into History for Lessons on Life

Perhaps some of the greatest lessons we can learn come from what leaders did or didn’t do over the centuries. That’s because with the perception gained over time, it’s possible to see where certain choices have taken us as humans and within societies. While leadership books abound, two men co-authored a book called Launching a Leadership Revolution. The book was written by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, and they use historical figures such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, FDR, John F. Kennedy, and Winston Churchill to introduce you to new ways of seeing beyond all the same old stories you learned in grade school. Inviting the reader to look at those well-loved stories and turning them until new lessons can be seen and learned.

Perhaps more than anything, these basic insights that are taught in all the major religions can be used as a reminder. We certainly aren’t getting much of them in the 24/7 information overload coming from our social media-driven world. True leaders are mentors, teaching their “disciples” to develop leadership skills and venture out on paths that are unknown to them when they started their leadership learning journey.

They learn that teaching others to become leaders and mentors as they have been taught is a path to becoming a leader just as surely as some of the more negative paths to leadership, like using fear or intimidation to impose your will on others. The too often believed concept that leaders are all about power and ruling with an iron fist goes out the door with these concepts. Helping others turn back to the concept that leaders are there to serve those who come under their scope of influence.

When a person learns to merge the more positive understanding of leadership, their experience changes them. Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady are among the top 25 leadership gurus and personal development speakers (along with other motivational leaders such as Tony Robbins, Darren Hardy, and John C. Maxwell). When you can find a book that incorporates the combination of outstanding teachings, a new way of looking at them, and a somewhat quirky way of saying things, it makes learning fun again. Just like it was when you found that one amazing teacher who opened up the world when they spoke. Building possibilities and dreams you’d never had before.

Everyone eventually becomes a leader for a time. Once that fact is accepted, it becomes our responsibility to start developing those leadership skills needed to do the best possible job of guidance when the mantle falls on our shoulders. Most of us will have to work at those skills. Of course, there are some who are born with the talent and skills to lead, it just seems to flow out of their pores with every breath they take – most of us aren’t that person!

But we can improve the skills and talents we have, and we can start learning some new ones as we go through life. That’s what becoming a leader is about – learning the new skills, starting from where we are and choosing to improve through personal development work, and exercises to hone our abilities..

Some of the great thinkers espouse this belief about leadership and mentoring – Steven J. Stowell said, “Great Leaders find ways to connect with their people and help them fulfill their potential.” Max Lucado reminds us that “A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” And Solon teaches, “He who has learned how to obey will know how to command.” Alongside those quotes, here’s one from Woodward – “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.”

For all of us, once we learn the skills and begin to master them, we gain even more understanding and ability as we begin to teach those principles for others to improve their skills as well. When someone trusts you enough to teach them valuable life lessons, it’s time to step up to the plate, and swing for the fences. It’s time to really show how much your road to leadership and personal development have given you.