Recognized as a pivotal figure of the 19th century, the life of Susan B. Anthony offers valuable lessons in leadership. Few figures in history are credited with greater accomplishments. As the New York State Senate recognized in a resolution of remembrance, Anthony was known for her "unceasing labor, undaunted courage, and unselfish devotion." Despite failing to achieve her goal of equal political rights during her lifetime, she never wavered in her passion and confidence. Through her words and writings, Susan B. Anthony's approach to societal reform provides a generous roadmap for future leaders.
I'll always remember the summer of '92. My Mom had become very sick the year before, and my middle school life had been turned upside down. During one of our monthly lunches at Wendy's (because we both loved the unusual salad bar), she gave me a copy of The Firm. I disappeared for days into Mitch and Abby's fast-paced world, forgetting my own tough reality. Next, I joined the characters within The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill. In the midst of that difficult summer, I immediately understood the power of a story. My life-long love affair with words had begun with a legal thriller that almost never saw the light of day. As I devoured story after story, year after year, I wanted to know more about the man behind them. Inspired by the chilling testimony of a young girl in a Mississippi courtroom, John Grisham somehow found time to write his first novel while maintaining his legal practice and serving in the state legislature. To anyone seeking to do great work amongst the demands of daily life, Grisham's own story is as riveting as any he created.
First I was the gifted student-athlete. Then I was the teen mom that earned her MBA at 21. Then I was the CPA turned community activist. Then I was the multi-preneur. Then I was the high-flying executive. Then I was the health focused writer, consultant, and business builder. Then I accepted another executive job and the leadership of 93 year-old non-profit. At every transition point, I had a crisis of identity - some minor, some major. This last one, in particular, challenged me to my core.
Called the greatest athlete of our generation by Malcolm Gladwell, Dara Torres has been swimming at an elite level for longer than most of her competitors have been alive. After returning to the Olympics in 2008 and winning three silver medals, she was awarded the ESPY for Best Comeback of the Year. That brought her total to 12 medals from 5 Olympic performances. And she only missed a return trip to London by .09 of a second - at age 45. She's also a mom, national PTA ambassador, author, model, television personality, and motivational speaker. In sharing her quest for unparalleled excellence, Dara reminds us all that most of the limits on our success are self-imposed - and that we have the power to remove them. We can stage our own "comeback" at any time. As Dara says, "you have to be determined to move closer to reaching your full potential, instead of letting yourself slip farther away. For her comebacks, Dara focused on what she calls her "three pillars of life" - what she puts into her body (eating), what she does with her body (exercise), and how she recovers.
As I developed the idea for this project over several months, I always knew who the first profile would be. If there was a (modern) grandfather of self-study and improvement, it had to be Benjamin Franklin. Known as the "first citizen of the 18th century," Franklin was a self-publisher, inventor, signer of the American Declaration of Independence, and diplomat during the American Revolution. There is little debate that his life made an impact. Through his writings, autobiography, and countless historical documents, we can reconstruct the core philosophies he credits with his own success.
As the World Domination Summit came to a close, host Chris Guillebeau unveiled his latest investment. This conference had been a financial success, and by combining the profits and the contribution of an anonymous benefactor, he’d gathered $100,000 – and he was giving it to us. We each received a small envelope with a crisp $100 bill and simple set of instructions: Start a project, surprise someone, or do something entirely different. I knew immediately how I would invest mine.
My husband and I spent this past weekend in Portland, Oregon, at the World Domination Summit hosted by Chris Guillebeau. As you might imagine, that's led to some interesting conversations back home (especially when we admit that we went last year, and we've decided to take our teenage daughters next summer). "World Domination? Isn't that a bit strong?" Not nearly as strong as the pull to lead a dull, conformist life. To us, world domination is about overcoming the resistance to lead a remarkable life in a conventional world. My friend Scott Dinsmore explained it this way, "In a world where most people encourage complacency, we need a sanctuary where people understand why all of us interested in living meaningful lives, do what we do. I go to belong. To be inspired. To find ideas I’d never discover on my own. To find people who hold me to a higher standard." That sums up my feelings pretty well. We come from all over the world. We're from different generations and backgrounds. We're focused on different types of projects. But we all have the same sparkle in our eyes. We believe in the power of community, the spirit of adventure, and the importance of service.
On Monday, June 25, I left Tool, Texas, at a few minutes before 6:00am. I arrived at my office at Port Royal during lunch and kicked off what's shaping up to be the most productive 10-day stretch of my working life. I would have never predicted it, and I didn't even realize it until I started preparing for my next Weekly Review. In fact, my previous experiences would have led me to think just the opposite: a period of burnout or sickness was likely. It's been intense on just about every front, and I've had very little rest. But just the opposite happened. And I think I know why.
It's really that simple. That's because the overwhelming majority of actions we take every day are based on our habits.If you're like me, that thought sounds scary at first. But it can also be awesome. Because you can pick and choose your habits. You can work out every day. You can eat healthy. You can earn more. You can spend more time with your family. You can have stronger faith. The great news is that you only have to use your willpower at first. Then, you can let your habits take over, and you'll take those same actions automatically. It works. Like magic, only for real. And you can see the proof for yourself.
At the start of the year, I made a decision to read LESS. I wanted to take more time to apply the principles in each book instead of immediately moving on to the next one. That was much harder than I anticipated. Especially since I gave up TV, reading became my preferred way to unwind and relax. But that conflicts with the intense focus required to completely digest and apply the what I read. So, I decided on a hybrid. My revised goal is to complete "net-outs" on 12 books this year, one a month. And then I'm free to read as much as I'd like, gleaming what I can and enjoying the time. I've also spent some time deciding which books were important enough to study as opposed to just reading through. "Turning Pro" by Steven Pressfield definitely makes the cut.