Orrin Woodward on LIFE & Leadership

Inc Magazine Top 20 Leader shares his personal, professional, and financial secrets.

  • Orrin Woodward

    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

    This blog is an Alltop selection and ranked in HR's Top 100 Blogs for Management & Leadership.

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Leadership Self-Awareness

Posted by Orrin Woodward on February 5, 2013

Here is the first promised article on the ten soft skills of leadership. The LIFE business builds each one of these into its customers and members. Each subscription sold reaches another person with life-changing truth. It is time for a LeaderShift, and it must begin inside each of us. In any event, here is the self-awareness article. God Bless, Orrin Woodward

3 Stages of Self-Awareness

3 Stages of Self-Awareness

The first soft-skill principle is self-awareness. Leaders must cut through the illusions most people suffer when it comes to their own strengths and weaknesses in order to identify areas to change. Interestingly, potential leaders swing to one of two extremes when attempting to see themselves as they truly are. On one side, they delude themselves into seeing no issues to work on and quickly blame those around them for any lack of results on the scoreboard—a sure way to never grow personally. However, on the other side, are the people who see others’ strengths and only their own weaknesses; hence, they beat themselves up and never fulfill their potential. The secret is to move from the extremes into the middle point of comprehending one’s strengths while working on one’s weaknesses. This is captured in a simple quote I developed nearly a decade ago:

Find a victory in every defeat to remain hopeful and find a defeat in every victory to remain humble.

Read that quote several times. This is one of the key principles I have utilized to grow in all areas. For in this quote is the secret to the Plan, Do, Check, and Adjust process: a humble, yet hopeful attitude. Since we are humans, we will always make mistakes—this keeps us humble. However, if we work consistently, we will improve greatly and produce phenomenal results, but these will never be perfect so that should also keep us humble. Indeed, John Wooden said to strive for perfection knowing that we will never attain it. Accordingly, humble and hopeful is the proper spirit to attack the leadership obstacles preventing a person from achieving his potential. Nonetheless, the extremes of self-love or self-hatred seem to be the rule, and this is the reason most people do not achieve leadership excellence.

The assignment for today is to peek inside the mental wall created by each reader to help them survive in this world filled with more discouragement, setbacks and haters than encouragement, achievements, and lovers. Even so, a leader must be self-aware and evaluate himself as he truly is so he can move to where he truly wants to be. Here are some questions to ask:

1. What areas of my leadership, if I changed today, would create the most growth for my community?
2. How can I feed my own heart encouragement to continue the change process?
3. How can I be a better encourager for those around me to pour oxygen into their spark of excellence?

Remember the “victory and defeat” quote above to stay humble and hopeful while moving ahead in 2013. Andrew Grove once said, “Only the paranoid survive.” I interpret this quote to mean that those who are self-aware and willing to see things as they truly are will grow, change, and survive. At any rate, are the readers ready to grow? Self-awareness is the key to beginning the change process.


Orrin Woodward

77 Responses to “Leadership Self-Awareness”

  1. Lisa Volkmann said

    Great post … ready to grow and ready to learn and grow on the next 9 points as well. Have a great day : )

  2. Patrick Lipzinski said

    I love reading your blogs, you have such a way with words that literally compel others to want to figure out the areas in their lives that need attention and commence the attack on the battle grounds of growth. Thank you again Orrin for everything that you do.

  3. Nicole said


    Thank you!! This one made me stop and think.. on each one of those three things.. I will spend time thinking on them today!!

    Thank you again

  4. Daniel Pinkelman said


    Excellent blog, forwarding on to my pastors and HR manager at work. I have been listening to your latest CD from St Louis, tracks 10 & 11 for 5 days now – keep the “real honest” stuff coming
    1 Corinthians 9:24-27

  5. Matt Mielke said

    This principle has helped me tremendously. I used to be, flaunt the victory, beat myself up in the defeat, and avoid defeat at all cost. Even if it meant insignificance. Not anymore! Thanks Orrin

  6. Tim Jarvinen said

    It is funny how, years ago, I could find victory in everything thereby stifling my progress. Then came a period when, as my knowledge of what ‘should be’ or how it ‘should be done’ grew, I found fault in everyone in everything, including myself. It truly took, longer than I’d care to admit, to get to the point where I could frame each victory and defeat properly and lead with grace. Extremely powerful!!

    Thank you for the post.


  7. Phil Mette said

    To learn what you have presented in just this article is great. To actually apply it is a life changer. Not only those that do but for all the ones influenced by them. Thanks for being a continued example of this.

  8. Aage Smies said

    Thanks Orrin for another great article. You’re wisdom and insight is a big part of what inspires me to get as much time as possible with our mentors and coaches Wayne, Raylene, Claude and Lana. I appreciate all you continue to do for this community of rascals.

  9. Orrin,

    Thanks for helping me find a victory in every defeat and a defeat in every victory.

  10. Rick Green said

    GREAT start, to this series!

    Self-awareness has been one of the leadership skills that I have had to, continuously, work on. Prior to LIFE, I would regularly swing from one of the extremes to the other, as far as being deluded/self-deprecating with respects to understanding my strengths/weaknesses. I am thankful for the coaching/mentoring that I have received, in this area. At least I have realized that “being humble” doesn’t mean that you are weak.

    This can never be said enough, but…..

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything that you do. It means so much for so many!

    God Bless.

  11. Chad Waters said

    Such a great series of topics! I love this Blog Orrin and has set mind on a different path already to help others and also myself!

  12. Jeff Darling said

    Thanks Orrin! Powerful post on self awareness that we can all learn and grow from. You never cease to amaze me, as you come up with content after content on such principle based information that we can apply in our lives on a daily basis. The “10 soft-skills of LEADERSHIP”, can’t wait for more insight on the other 9. This is powerful!!

  13. Nancy Pope said

    Thank you for such an incredible follow up to yesterday’s post. The 1 question you asked that really hit me was, What areas of my leadership, if I changed today would create the most growth for my community”. With the incredible guidance of Mark & Jenn Paul I have begun to address this – But this article with that question helped me have a break through!!!

  14. Maranda said

    Is the Savage Chickens cartoon a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t understand if we are supposed to be like the chicken on the right or if we are not supposed to be like it??

    • Orrin Woodward said

      The Savage Chicken is a joke. 🙂 However, there are many times, in moments of breakthrough, where I realize I was an “idiot” or more properly “ignorant” of the correct course, attitude, and actions. thanks, Orrin

  15. Maria said

    That is quite an interesting post. People often label themselves as either a leader or not. This article offers something for both. Those who recognize themselves as a leader will be able to relate to this since not all their leadership efforts pan out. So this gives them something to think about instead of assuming it was a lost cause anyway. Those who label themselves as not being a leader will also be encouraged by this article to select one situation at a time where they can attempt to show leadership and see what results.

  16. Alan Clements said

    Thanks Orrin for these words of wisdom! This is why I enjoy the LIFE business and your leadership!

  17. Juliet said

    I have written down your quote on my mirror & read it over several times already. In 2013, this will be a great reminder for me.
    Thank you!

  18. Scott Staley said

    Great article Orrin – I’m very much looking forward to insight into all 10 areas. I love that you break it down into simple steps – and approach both sides (positive/negative) to promote growth.

  19. Mike Schwendinger said

    Ahh – self awareness. I can see why this is principle number 1. Finding the balance between realizing that one needs to understand his or her strengths and weaknesses and also know what to do with that information in a positive manner. I can’t think of anyone who isn’t self deceived in some area. Without this, how can we move to the next step however. You can’t achieve anything without knowing where the starting point is.

    Thanks for putting together a system to help people find that balance.

  20. JeanetteP said

    Amen Orrin! Well said! Thank you for this teaching, clarity, and direction into becoming a servant leader! A desire to please the Lord also helps me to keep myself in check. Can not wait to read and apply the following nine principles as well! Thanks to you, Laurie & the PC for you do!
    God bless!

  21. renee Oettinger said

    The book Leadership And Self-Deception in the LIFE business was a great help for me in the area of self awareness. I really like the quote on humble and hopeful in pursuing personal growth.

  22. Kevin Bixler said

    Thank you for all you do. I definitely lean towards seeing just the weaknesses I have and not the strengths but would not have tried to change anything if not for this amazing business. This is truly life changing!!!

  23. Matt Foote said

    “Find a victory in every defeat to remain hopeful and find a defeat in every victory to remain humble.”

    I love that this quote assumes activity. For me to experience either victory or failure, I must go beyond the “Plan” phase to the “Do” phase. Thank you for the reminder that all success is earned through both victories and failures, but not without doing what is necessary to experience them.


  24. Jonathan Brandenberger said

    This compliments or is complimented by Chris&Terri Brady’s system cd called Fortify Your Thinking. Chris’ talk is about, be one way or the other.Commitment. Know why you believe what you believe. Get on a success road and know it’s the right way. This article describes how to navigate that road properly. Thank you.
    Jonathan Brandenberger

  25. Lynda Varada said

    The book Spiritual Depression, especially the chapter on Vain Regrets, that I was led to through the LIFE business has helped me to re-frame and not ‘hide’ behind my perceived weaknesses. I absolutely love that quote, because I was the type of person who was easily mortified by my failures and paralyzed by my fear of failure. I would only do something if I felt reasonably confident I could succeed. This LIFE business has taught me how to grow through failures and how essential they are to the learning process if I truly want to reach my potential. Thanks for a great reminder this morning.

    Lynda <

  26. Great post. Love the balance approach and the quote that brings it into focus. Self-deception can be brutal. Great tools to conquer it.

  27. Eben Smith said

    Great insight on self awareness. Now I understand when I was playing high school football my coach would say these quotes when we win or lose. another nugget to add to my leadership journey.

  28. Adam Gonzales said

    This is an area that for me has always required mentorship; I look forward to utilizing these three questions to help hone my awareness.

  29. Dean Frey said

    I love the questions! Thanks for the reminders!

  30. J & P Harteis said

    Why is it so much easier to see faults – our own, or in others – than it is to see that which is good? Grace & mercy create a much better environment, enabling us to see our victory in defeat, & to be OK with our defeat in every victory! Thanks, Orrin!

  31. Adam M Rossman said

    Great post, Orrin! What a great idea for a series. I also love the questions you gave us to ask ourselves to help consider how we can get better.

  32. David Erickson said

    Incredible article. If we can’t look at ourselves with a plan for improvement we are mirroring the actions of the Pharisees in the Bible. Every day we should be moving in a forward direction whether we fail or succeed. It should be very satisfying to look back and recall the stupid things we did in the past because we have moved forward through the failures. It is also satisfying to be able to help those who have gone through the same thing that you did and see them in their victories. I don’t really look forward to self inspection, but if I don’t I can’t help those I need to help. Thanks, for the good words. I’m looking forward to the new book. Fired up!!

  33. Elizabeth Sieracki said

    In a number of my daiy readings recently I have been challenged to define areas where I need to change and get to work. The title of my daily devotion right now is “Change before you have to.” Define the area and ACT on it.
    For me it has to be a daily (and some time minute to minute) reminder the ACT part.
    I appreciate your discipline and the example that you set Orrin.

  34. Bob Rasmussen said

    Thx Orrin! Great stuff, I am printing these articles for my files to continually study and I am forwarding it to some “positional leaders” I know who may find the gold nuggets here as I continue to do if they are willing to become brutally honest. Thanks for serving so well, Bob

  35. Wayne MacNamara said

    Looking forward to these series of blogs Orrin. Self awareness can be a very empowering to the person wanting to improve his/her life.

  36. Yancy chaj said

    Thank you Orrin for always teaching us i am resolved to give the best of me and improve and really learn to improve were i need to improve staying humble and what that really means. Thank you

  37. Susan Wamstad said

    Ditto to printing and putting in binder! More importantly, as Bob said, to continually study. And for myself, to set the goal to be one of Bob’s positional leaders!

  38. Monique Bell said

    I have always been tough on myself and always put myself down because of my weaknesses! I LOVE the self-confidence that I am gaining in myself from the LIFE community and that I DO have strengths to use to help others!! Thanks for all you do!!

  39. Penny Tahtinen said

    Thanks Orrin for putting this blog together on soft skills principles. I feel that I’m still growing and understanding where I’m at with my leadership. I will be printing and thinking over those three questions. Thank you!

  40. Awesome article Orrin, thanks!

  41. theresa buggia said

    self discovery is a great journey…..learning what we don’t know is a powerful leverage

  42. Christine Fleury said

    Great post! Funny how we so easily fall into those traps of being either too proud or too down on ourselves. It reminds me of a quote I heard Chris Brady say: “the only way evil can flourish is when good men do nothing”. It seems to me that the reason good men do nothing is rarely because we just dont care (isnt that a given quality of every “good” person? To care, and desire to stop evil when its within our power to do so?) Maybe people are sometimes just unaware of the evils that need to be fought. But I think the most prevalent reason “good men do nothing” is because we fall into one of these two ditches of self deception. If I were the evil one and knew that good men could kick my fanny if they ever realized who they were in light of the truth, this would be my exact weapon of choice…my only weapon. To confuse their identity so they never realized the truth of who they were or what they were capable of- to keep them buying a lie, whichever one they’d accept, so that they never reached their potential.
    And living in that not only destroys us personally, it destroys the world around us, robbing them of the good that we were supposed to do. Our self-awareness is vital, not only for our own success, but for a world that desperately needs good men to do SOMETHING.
    Thats why blogs like yours are so powerful. The more good men know the truth, the more we live in it, the more powerful we are and the more of a difference we will make. Thanks, to you and Laurie and PC for being such a potent voice of truth in all of our lives.
    Looking forward to the rest of the series!

  43. Alison Ruhlman said

    I read and re-read that victory/defeat quote….and also the 3 questions. Great mind twisters!! Especially right before bedtime!!!

  44. Micah Kramer said

    Orrin, this is really awesome, relatable teaching. Of course, I’m not shocked….that’s just what you do! I’m simply amazed at how you continue to apply these principles to your family and your community every day. What a blessing. Thanks for pouring your life into paving the way for hungry students to begin and persevere in their personal journeys toward legacy.


  45. CC Achilefu said

    Thanks Orrin. Today I will be chewing on your quote “Find a victory in every defeat to remain hopeful and find a defeat in every victory to remain humble.”
    Dynamic article!
    Thanks again.


  46. Nicholas Tzekos said

    This is exactly what I needed to hear, I cannot wait to read Leadershift.
    Thank you Orrin

  47. Kody Ellis said

    Awesome article Orrin! One of my favorite ones you have ever written!


  48. Steve Duba said

    Thanks O I enjoyed the nugget.We can remove our own walls that have been built up over time by eliminating the self talk.
    I will never forget the first time I heard “the reason we give you a cd is so you stop talking”,Or the other one that said
    “How much do you learn while your talking”?It took a while to see that the self talk was the ultimate enemy of growth.Our cd
    use keeps growing dialy.The more I show the plan the more the confidence grows and posture develops.Belief is posture.
    Great series,can’t wait. God Bless

  49. Sharon Ellens said

    Thank you, Orrin. It’s amazing that I can so quickly become proud in small victories, yet so discouraged in small defeats. Your article and theme remind me to stay on the “straight and narrow path” between hope and humility.

  50. Matt Moser said

    I appreciate the questions you asked at the end of the article. It’s great to be able to read an article, grasp the ideas and then immediately ask myself questions about how I can implement. As I heard Dave O. recently say – We’re on a mission to show radical love and humble truth. This is a great reminder along the journey to stay hopeful through defeat and humble through the victories!


  51. Adam Powell said

    Great post Orrin, I am so grateful that the LIFE business naturally provides mentors to help you stay on course with your self awareness. I clearly identified myself on one of the extremes you mentioned in your post, thanks for pointing it out and helping me see the proper course correction.

  52. Matthew Scott said

    My takeaway: we need good doses of humility and hopefulness. I personally have erred too far to the excess of humility and thus self-deprecation and ultimately sabotage. Through the leadership of people like you and the great mentors I have in Life, and certainly through my own hard work and strengthened awareness, I can certainly say that a nice balance is being approached. Orrin, you always hit the nail right on the head! Thanks for everything you do.


  53. Steve Leurquin said

    Looking forward to the series of posts from previous article. These are quick reads that anyone can apply to their life right now.

  54. Michele Lewis said

    Thanks for the post Orrin. You are a great example of the principles you teach.

    Looking forward to the other 9 posts. It is these skills that are the difference maker between just being busy and getting results.

    Can’t wait for your new book in April!

  55. Phil Gingerich said

    Orrin thank you for this blog. I really like the last sentence because I find myself constantly telling people if I had know the things Life teaches in my early twenties I would have done things completely different. Becoming self aware and more aware(PDCA) of what is happening in my businesses has changed the way I approach everything. Thanks again for all the time and effort you put into this community.

  56. Becca Selph said

    I see myself in those extremes. Thanks for the perspective Orrin!

  57. Robert Daley said

    Thanks for the post Orrin
    Self awareness first hitme as kind of a painful realization….” You mean I have weaknesses ” the journey has begun for becoming the person I need to be to serve the purpose that God put me on this earth to do…… Looking forward to future posts….
    God bless

  58. Dana Jensen said

    A great answer to the question I just asked an upline team mate Charlie ! Thank you Orrin
    Thanks agian
    BP for PC

  59. Jessica Sorensen said

    Wow this is so true. Truly inspiring to me because it is easy to not want to be aware of your weaknesses because of fear of what they might be and how hard to work on. You are an inspiration to me and my husband Orrin.

    Thank you!

  60. Charlie Mallios said

    Working very hard on this. Sometimes the truth is hard to see (blind spots). The CD “Layers” was a real eye opener! Do you know the book he refers to?

  61. Wendi Witkowski said

    What a great series this is going to be. I was thinking of something like this to share with my linkd in group. Something that would keep them interested and viola here is a great series I can share and repost. Orrin, Thanks for always being one step ahead of what we need to expose this awesome leadership community.

  62. Kelli Sager said

    Great Article Orrin !Can’t wait for the next one !

  63. Dean Strube said

    Love that quote Orrin. Says it all. Thanks and God bless

  64. Jim Martin said

    You are always posting material that we can learn and apply! Thanks Orrin great stuff


  65. Josh Dames said

    Thank you Orrin, this series is going to be great!!! Can’t wait to apply this info starting now!!

  66. Dave Hall said


    Having experienced a significant defeat this week, your questions helped me find the victory in the defeat by applying the PDCA process and prompted this response:

    1. What areas of my leadership, if I changed today, would create the most growth for my community?
    Apply what I’ve learned and habits gained in the MFC to consistently get better in the areas I track for improvement.

    2. How can I feed my own heart encouragement to continue the change process?
    Meditate on 2 chapters of God’s Word every day. Continue to read at least a half hour a day. 3-4 CD’s a day.

    3. How can I be a better encourager for those around me to pour oxygen into their spark of excellence?
    Apply the principles of “accept, approve, appreciate” with everyone I meet today in whatever measure is possible.

    Thanks Orrin for mentoring so many of us through your example and your writing.


  67. Peggi Kern said

    Thank you for the article! “Cutting through the illusions” and becoming more self-aware isn’t an easy task, but because of the LIFE business information, the LIFE training cds, books and the leadership of LIFE, there are steps to take and ALL the tools at hand for the job. I was at the Winter Leadership Convention and was blessed to watch Wayne and Rayleene MacNamara recognized as brand new Policy Council members and I can truly say that after watching them and hearing them speak, “the area of my leadership, if I changed today, would create the most growth for my community?” hands down is BELIEF! Belief in myself, belief in my husband, belief in my community and belief in the purpose God has given me. Feed myself belief food, talk belief to my family and community and express belief to my God. Thank you to the MacNamara’s for providing the inspiration and thank you to all the leaders who are paving the way!

  68. Fantastic! Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady, George Guzzardo, Claude Hamilton, Bill Lewis, Dan Hawkins, Wayne MacNamara, and Tim Marks have such great blogs! I love the information being taught in the LIFE business. Thank you!

  69. Diane Buhlman said

    Dear Orrin
    I am currently re-reading the Magic of Thinking Big and it goes along with your blog today. So many people are blinded by day to day stuff that they struggle to see the bigger picture the impact they could be making in their families and communities.

  70. robert wilcox said

    Thank you for the blog. I cannot be reminded enough of the right questions to ask and the importance of being Mentored. If we want to strive for perfection these two must be addressed thanks for the reminder :)!

  71. PappaBiggs said

    I missed reading “The Soft Skills of Leadership” posted 02/03/2013. Looking forward to the rest of this series. This post on “Self-Awareness” is tying into another read, today, were the author had a great analogy of two farms: one farm was very productive; the other a wreck. For the farmer to gain the most he needs to continue nurturing his his best farm, but if he is trying to get more out of his best farm (strengths), the law of diminishing returns is working against him. He can gain the most over all return from his two farms by first identifying and prioritizing the weaknesses to conquer on his least productive farm and taking action. “Your richer, more abundant future is intimately linked to your weaknesses.” Matthew Kelly

    another quote not directly related to your article here, but definitely related to life is “culture has no interest in you becoming whole…culture is driven by productivity and consumption”

    Some great comments were posted by others for stealing!

    Grace & Peace

  72. A terrific lead off post in this latest series. This blog is like gold being mined from the Earth’s fertile ground of genius 😀 ( the breadth & depth of genres discussed and explored is something else! ) Thank you!

  73. Angie Ballah said

    Thank you for the questions to tun toward myself! Im excited to read more!

  74. Kim Decker said

    orrin, So true o be humble and look inside ourselves before we look on the outside of others. Thank you for these thoughts.

  75. robert wilcox said

    Great Blog post Orrin Thank you! This was a huge eye opener when I first joined the Team because I always stuck on the side of cutting myself down but giving grace to others … and dont get me wrong I am still hard on myself in certain areas. I also know that if we go through the PDCA and understand where we want to be and how far we have progressed while understanding the slight edge effect … that can be the Victory and a defeat for me. I think about the “life in the Zone” cd everytime I hear anybody talk about your quote on Victory and defeat. Chris talks about his growth but also asks questions to make him better. I believe that has been one of the best principles of Life we could ever learn! Thank you for sharing Orrin!

  76. Tim Marks said


    With election day coming up tomorrow its important to remember that the middle class is being “squeezed” in part due to policies that inhibit business growth. While I disagree with many things on both sides, I must admit that the Republicans are more “pro business” therefore what we need to move forward right now.

    Tim Marks

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