Orrin Woodward Leadership

Inc Magazine Top 20 Leader Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

  • Orrin Woodward

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    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 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 Leadership. 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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The Law of Averages Produces Results

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 17, 2014

Most successful people realize that the Law of Averages (LOA) is a key part of success in any field. For when a person leverages the LOA properly, the seemingly unpredictable becomes very predictable. Unfortunately, most people do not allow the LOA to work in their favor and then label themselves failures when actually they have only failed to apply the LOA. Here is a short segment from the LIFE Leadership major function where I share how to leverage the Law of Averages to produce results!

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in LIFE Leadership, Life Training, Orrin Woodward | 7 Comments »

Dan and Lisa Hawkins: Past and Future

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 13, 2014

Two traveling monks that were sworn to avoid contact with females reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed. 

As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!” 

“Brother,” the second monk replied, “I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her.”

I love this story because it teaches a great principle of success, namely, one must not let his past hinder his future. So many people continue to replay a bad experience from their past which only ensures that their futures are as bleak as their pasts. What is the use in doing that? Most people simply do not understand what they are doing, but for anyone who has listened to LIFE Leadership materials, he/she cannot use that excuse. For them, it is simply a lack of mental discipline to feed a new empowering story to the subconscious mind that ultimately changes the outside to what is said repeatedly on the inside.  

Thankfully, Dan and Lisa Hawkins did not let their past predict their future. Through mental discipline, this couple changed the inside story from one of repeated failures due to overwhelming fear and lack of faith to one of the most inspiring entrepreneurial stories in America today. From a shy mechanic and a harried daycare provider to financially free LIFE Coaches leaders and Co-founders of LIFE Leadership! The Hawkins family legacy will never be the same.

I want to personally thank Dan and Lisa for their impressive vision, courage, and discipline to change. The reason Laurie and I refuse to slow down is because we know there are more couples like you who are looking for a way to let go of their past so they can seize their future by getting on The Leadership Train

What about you dear reader? Don’t you think it’s time to stop focusing on your hurts from the past so you start to create your victories in the future?

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in LIFE Leadership, Life Training | 13 Comments »

Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 12, 2014

I wanted to share on my blog an article I wrote for LinkedIn on Soft Skills and Hard Skills. LIFE Leadership is in the sweet spot for business and personal development with its emphasis on Soft Skill growth. Soft Skills could be compared to Emotional Quotient while Hard Skills could be compared to Intelligence Quotient. Both are important but the picture of the iceberg below depicts their relative contribution. A huge thank you to CEO Chris Brady, the field leaders, and our many customers for your support.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

imagesThere is a leadership revolution brewing in America today. Companies have discovered that the mastery of technical skills alone does not make an employee a leader. In addition to the technical “hard skills,” a leader must also master the relational “soft skills” in order to advance personally and professionally.

While technical hard skills are typically learned during one’s formal education and supplemented with on-the-job training, soft skills, in contrast, are rarely taught in school or at work. Therefore, a potential leader must take personal responsibility for learning and applying the relational soft skills in his daily interactions with others. However, to do this properly, one must first understand the difference between a hard skill and a soft skill.

Perhaps the simplest method for differentiating between the two types of skills is to consider hard skills as science and soft skills as art. Whereas science focuses on objective numerical outcomes that can be measured, art focuses on subjective aesthetic outcomes that must be experienced. Hard skills (like typing speed, IQ level, or computer programming skills) can be measured objectively, while soft skills (like teamwork, patience, and persistence) can only be measured subjectively.

Soft skills produce impressive objective results because they are absolutely essential for great leadership. For instance, just because one cannot scientifically measure a leader’s influence, that does not mean it isn’t real or valuable to the company. It simply means that teammates experience the art of a leader’s soft skills despite the fact that those skills are not quantifiable. Of course leaders must have science-side competence (objective skills), but the difference maker is their art-side influence (subjective skills).

The second difference between hard and soft skills is in their scope of use. While hard skills are job-dependent techniques that can change with time and new assignments, soft skills are people-dependent and thus practically unchanging because they are based on timeless principles. When a person studies the leadership lessons from ancient Greece, Rome, and Jerusalem, he is struck by how soft skills of yesterday worked the same as they do today. That is to say, the art-side soft skills are timeless and relevant regardless of the profession one chooses, so long as it involves working with other people.

The third difference between the two skill sets is in how those skills are taught to others. Leaders can develop soft skills and even master them, but this doesn’t make it any easier to teach them to others. Unlike hard skills mastery, which can be taught in classrooms through memorization of rules and formulas, soft skills mastery must be learned in real-life experiences. In other words, hard skills can be learned in a classroom through instruction of the mind, but soft skills must be learned in life through instruction of the heart. Leadership mastery is rare because it is an art taught mostly through experience. It demands from leaders the ability to make decisions while juggling numerous initiatives, resources, and people to produce profitable results that honor the company and its people—not an easy assignment by any means and even more difficult to pass along to others.

Interestingly, today’s technological scientific age has not reduced the importance of soft skills but has, if anything, increased it. Nearly every company has impressive technology and brains, but only those with leadership apply the soft skills to adapt quickly. MIT Professor Peter Senge once wrote, “The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.” Companies learn faster when leaders model and message soft skill development within their teams. The result is that more employees feel connected to the company, its leaders, and its vision, which means the organization will learn and change faster.

Not surprisingly, modern statistical research confirms the importance of soft skills. Google, in a study codenamed “Project Oxygen,” data-mined every performance review, feedback survey, and nomination for top-manager awards within the company. Google identified the eight most important skills for effective leadership and discovered that technical expertise ranked dead last out of the eight. Historically, Google’s management strategy was simple: leave the programmers alone, and when they needed help, they could reach out to their bosses, who were promoted based upon their mastery of technical skills. However, according to Laszlo Bock, Google’s Vice President of “Human Operations,” Project Oxygen changed their mindset. “In the Google context, we’d always believed that to be a manager, particularly on the engineering side, you need to be as deep or deeper a technical expert than the people who work for you,” Mr. Bock says. “It turns out that that’s absolutely the least important thing. It’s important, but pales in comparison. Much more important is just making that connection and being accessible.”

Google’s findings are not really new but merely confirm statistically what was previously known intuitively, namely, that everything rises and falls on leadership. In 1936, Dale Carnegie described what Google’s study revealed when he wrote, “. . . 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering—to personality and the ability to lead people.”

To be sure, hard skills are vital for professional competence, but if a person desires to climb within his profession, he must not neglect his leadership soft skills. For true leaders combine the science-side hard skills and the art-side soft skills to build leadership cultures of trust and influence. Simply put, leadership is the only sustainable competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.

Posted in Leadership/Personal Development, LIFE Leadership | 13 Comments »

Art Jonak’s MasterMind Event

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 10, 2014

Art Jonak’s 2014 MasterMind Event was another huge success, selling out the Orlando hotel! The top leaders from around the world gathered together to benchmark best practices, inspire one another to do more, and make friendships that lasts a lifetime. For the last five years, I have supported the event because it represents everything that is right about Network Marketing.

MasterMind Event 2014

MasterMind Event 2014

There are three main reasons why I love the MasterMind events:

First, the people who attend are hungry, driven, and so uplifting to others attendees. Even though hundreds of organizations are represented, the attendees seek common ground by uplifting Network Marketing as a whole rather than pushing others down to make themselves feel higher. In other words, Art has created a win-win culture at his events.

Second, the MasterMind faculty is world-class in leadership character, competence, and communication skills. Everyone who attends the event leaves with a boatload of nuggets to improve himself/herself personally and professionally. The speakers at this event prepare months in advance to give the audience great content delivered in an engaging/entertaining style. I consider it a privilege to be friends with the MasterMind faculty.

Finally, the third reason I support the MasterMind event is Art Jonak. Art has a dream to unite the Network Marketing profession by showcasing those who are building longterm, sustainable, and profitable businesses. I don’t believe there is another person in Network Marketing willing to sacrifice his time to lift the entire profession to the level Art Jonak does. The commitment to excellence by Art is reason enough for me to support the MasterMind Event.

I learned leadership from the community building profession and I love to give back to the profession that blessed me. If you have attended one of the MasterMind events, please share how you were inspired to grow in the amazing Network Marketing profession. 

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Leadership/Personal Development, Orrin Woodward | 8 Comments »

Bird-Dogging Using the Law of Averages

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 4, 2014

One of the talks that I shared at the LIFE Leadership Fall Convention and also the MasterMind Event was on utilizing the Law of Averages to produce better results in one’s Compensated Community. Here is a short segment of the Bird-Dogging talk for your viewing pleasure. I call the concept bird-dogging and it applies the concepts of leverage that I shared in my recently released new book The Leadership Train. Anyone involved in Network Marketing will benefit from the new book as it teaches why this profession is not a life scam, pyramid scheme, or merely a door-to-door business. Network Marketing is going mainstream thanks to the efforts of its early pioneers like those reading this blog.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in LIFE Leadership, Life Training | 17 Comments »

Take New Measurements by Dan Hawkins

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 30, 2014

Dan and Lisa Hawkins: LIFE Coach Leaders

Dan Hawkins has become one of the top leaders in LIFE Leadership. Dan and Lisa Hawkins were recently recognized as new LIFE Coaches in Milwaukee and they continue grow in leadership. In this video, Dan explains the importance of not letting your current capabilities and results from stopping you from developing better capabilities, and thus, results. If Dan and Lisa can change to win, so can you.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Leadership/Personal Development, LIFE Leadership | 8 Comments »

Financial Fitness for Teens

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 28, 2014

Thanks to popular demand, the top-selling Financial Fitness program has been spawned a version for teenagers. This information is everything that adults wished they had learned in high school. With the release of Financial Fitness for Teens, any hungry student will will learn it. I am so thankful for Chris Brady’s leadership and vision at the LIFE Leadership company and look forward to the feedback on this new release.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Finances, LIFE Leadership | 8 Comments »

Is LIFE Leadership a Network Marketing Scam?

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 27, 2014

LIFE Leadership Releases The Leadership Train

The Leadership Train is officially released and available for purchase. I wrote my new book to ask and answer the key questions people ask when evaluating whether Network Marketing is a viable option for them. In reality, Network Marketing is not for everyone. Because it is a performance based system that cares little for one’s credentials, leadership creators love it while management credentialist do not.

For anyone aspiring to learn leadership, I believe Network Marketing is the best option. In Chris Brady and my NY Times bestseller Launching a Leadership Revolution, we stated the three foundational principles of all potential leaders –  hungry, hone-able, and honorable.

Is Network Marketing and LIFE Leadership a Scam?

For people with these foundational traits, The Leadership Train answers the key questions people need to know in order to determine if Network Marketing is for them:

1. Is Network Marketing a legitimate business? For if Network Marketing is an illegal pyramid scheme, it may not be high on a leaders list of things to do. :)

2. Is Network Marketing worthy of my time and effort? If the results worth the effort then I should really take a closer look.

3. If I decide to build Network Marketing, what is the most effective way to do so? Is there a training system to help me?

4. How does a leadership mentor help a person succeed in Network Marketing? Without mentoring, a person cannot learn from the experiences of others with proven results.

5. Besides the obvious compensation component, are there other aspects of Network Marketing that draw top performers into the profession? More people are involved with Network Marketing today for the association with an encouraging community than even the compensation aspect.

The Truth About LIFE Leadership and Network Marketing

These and many more questions are taught in this fictional story. Finally, one can learn about Network Marketing while one is entertained. Anyone seriously looking for the truth about LIFE Leadership and Network Marketing is only several hours away from know the facts.

Early on in this profession I learned that story sell and facts tell. I explain why I started LIFE Leadership to help the leadership culture build in ALL Network Marketing companies as well as corporations around the world. LIFE Leadership teaches leaders how to build leadership cultures no matter what company they currently work with or for. It’s time to get on the Leadership Train and launch a leadership revolution around the world.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward: Co-Founder LIFE Leadership

Endorsements for The Leadership Train

The Leadership Train Cover“Having worked in network marketing for nearly two decades, I have had the privilege and blessing of working with the industry’s top field leaders, executives, and business owners, and I have ‘seen it all,’ as they say. I really believe that only Orrin Woodward could have written The Leadership Train. There is no more competent researcher or practitioner in the industry. This beautifully crafted and informative allegory will take you on a journey that will challenge every belief or misconception you may have had about network marketing as well as about yourself. Orrin lays it all out—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and shows us how he and the other founders of LIFE Leadership have eliminated the issues that have plagued the network marketing industry for years, essentially creating a whole new industry in which anyone who is hungry, honorable, and teachable can have success. Homerun!”

—Tim Marks, Bestselling Author of Voyage of a Viking and Confidence of a Champion

“The world is made a better place each and every ordinary day by the millions of unsung heroes who serve others, sell and deliver great value to customers, and build enterprises that provide jobs, grow people, and secure families. The Leadership Train captures the heart and soul of this high and holy calling and will ignite a fire of unquenchable passion within the reader’s heart!”

—John Stahl-Wert, International Bestselling Author of The Serving Leader and Ten Thousand Horses

“No one builds a networking business like Orrin Woodward. In this marvelously entertaining and easy to read book, he shares the thinking behind his extraordinary success. This should be required reading for everyone in the profession!”

—Chris Brady, New York Times Bestselling Author of Launching a Leadership Revolution

“Hilde, Orrin, and I were waiting at a red light on Friedrichstraße in Berlin, and I asked Orrin, ‘Can you tell us that thing with trains and cookies and cream again?’ We all laughed because we had been messing around with it all day, and that is when we said, ‘You need to write that book! It is a profound message that will help millions of direct sellers across the world get the business success they hunger for.’ We are so happy the book is ready! We believe it will help our team to the next level. It will be one more ‘mandatory Orrin book.’ Thank you so much, Orrin, for the impact you have on our life and success.”

—Hilde and Ørjan Sæle, Authors and World-Class Networkers

“I had barely started this informative and entertaining book when the next thing I knew, I was finished. Captivating as it is, it’s actually a manual on how to build a successful network marketing business. Orrin Woodward is truly a master at his craft, and he provides answers to many questions here. Is there anyone else out there who wants to live a life of fulfillment? Then jump on the leadership train!”

—George Guzzardo, LIFE Coach and Speaker

“Reading The Leadership Train is like being a fly on the wall watching Orrin Woodward do what he does best: develop leaders who make a difference. If even just 10 percent of the people in our profession own this book, we will impact the world in profound ways.”

—Dan Hawkins, LIFE Coach and Speaker

“I couldn’t stop reading. Orrin Woodward has already proven to be one of the foremost thought leaders of the twenty-first century. Now he reminds us of the age-old adage ‘Facts tell, but stories sell.’ The Leadership Train is a fun fiction tale that demonstrates exactly what one needs to do to create financial freedom in direct sales, written by one of the greatest networkers in history.”

—Ken Dunn, CEO of Next Century Publishing

“Over the years, I have seen the potential of many people go unfulfilled because they couldn’t frame their own doubts and fears and then overcome them. Orrin Woodward has brilliantly laid out the emotions that so many people deal with as they try to get traction and succeed and then systematically shown readers how to grow as a leader and win. Orrin has always stood above all others in understanding not just the science but also the art of building a community, and in this book, he has combined that wisdom into a clear, heartfelt tale of one man’s journey as he builds the LIFE Leadership opportunity.”

—Claude Hamilton, Bestselling Author of Toughen Up!

I can’t encourage you enough to take the time and read this short story that has actually taken over 14 years to develop. Not only will you learn the principles, techniques, and concepts to help you make a decision about life and leadership, but it will also teach you how to build a successful Compensated Community. You will not only learn about business success but I predict you will also gather golden nuggets that you can immediately apply to make your life better. 

—Bill Lewis – LIFE Coach and Speaker

Posted in Leadership/Personal Development, LIFE Leadership, Orrin Woodward | 12 Comments »

The Leadership Train

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 15, 2014

I am so excited to finally announce the release of a book I conceptualized over two years ago! I wanted a book that educates people on the viability of Network Marketing while answering common objections and teaching a winning mindset through the leadership train analogy. The Leadership Train will be released at the three LIFE Leadership major functions across North America on Friday, October 24. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Click here to order Leadership Train

The Leadership Train CoverThe Leadership Train by Orrin Woodward 

All aboard the LIFE Leadership Express! Orrin Woodward’s new book, The Leadership Train, uncovers the mysteries of network marketing and debunks any fallacies and misconceptions about its value and validity. This captivating, easy-reading narrative details one man’s complete turnaround after struggling for years with finding fulfillment in his career and putting his family relationships at jeopardy because of it. Sparked by an unexpected reunion with a long-lost friend and coworker who has gained much more peace, happiness, and success since he left his fast-climbing corporate position and built a large network marketing business, Bobby Davis embarks on a journey that helps him find his true purpose and much more satisfaction in his work and personal life.

This is a dream builder’s dream come true! Not only do you as a business owner need this book, but you need to get this book into the hands of any others you meet who might be looking for something more in life. Learn how to build a successful network marketing business from one of the greatest networkers in history, and help others to do the same. Discover how to handle pyramid and other objections and wipe out any doubts, untruths, and false beliefs that prospective members and customers, and possibly even you yourself, might have. Grab your boarding pass and bring along as many people as you can because the leadership train is going places fast, and you don’t want anyone to miss out!

Endorsements for The Leadership Train

“Having worked in network marketing for nearly two decades, I have had the privilege and blessing of working with the industry’s top field leaders, executives, and business owners, and I have ‘seen it all,’ as they say. I really believe that only Orrin Woodward could have written The Leadership Train. There is no more competent researcher or practitioner in the industry. This beautifully crafted and informative allegory will take you on a journey that will challenge every belief or misconception you may have had about network marketing as well as about yourself. Orrin lays it all out—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and shows us how he and the other founders of LIFE Leadership have eliminated the issues that have plagued the network marketing industry for years, essentially creating a whole new industry in which anyone who is hungry, honorable, and teachable can have success. Homerun!”

—Tim Marks, Bestselling Author of Voyage of a Viking and Confidence of a Champion

“The world is made a better place each and every ordinary day by the millions of unsung heroes who serve others, sell and deliver great value to customers, and build enterprises that provide jobs, grow people, and secure families. The Leadership Train captures the heart and soul of this high and holy calling and will ignite a fire of unquenchable passion within the reader’s heart!”

—John Stahl-Wert, International Bestselling Author of The Serving Leader and Ten Thousand Horses

“No one builds a networking business like Orrin Woodward. In this marvelously entertaining and easy to read book, he shares the thinking behind his extraordinary success. This should be required reading for everyone in the profession!”

—Chris Brady, New York Times Bestselling Author of Launching a Leadership Revolution

“Hilde, Orrin, and I were waiting at a red light on Friedrichstraße in Berlin, and I asked Orrin, ‘Can you tell us that thing with trains and cookies and cream again?’ We all laughed because we had been messing around with it all day, and that is when we said, ‘You need to write that book! It is a profound message that will help millions of direct sellers across the world get the business success they hunger for.’ We are so happy the book is ready! We believe it will help our team to the next level. It will be one more ‘mandatory Orrin book.’ Thank you so much, Orrin, for the impact you have on our life and success.”

—Hilde and Ørjan Sæle, Authors and World-Class Networkers

“I had barely started this informative and entertaining book when the next thing I knew, I was finished. Captivating as it is, it’s actually a manual on how to build a successful network marketing business. Orrin Woodward is truly a master at his craft, and he provides answers to many questions here. Is there anyone else out there who wants to live a life of fulfillment? Then jump on the leadership train!”

—George Guzzardo, LIFE Coach and Speaker

“Reading The Leadership Train is like being a fly on the wall watching Orrin Woodward do what he does best: develop leaders who make a difference. If even just 10 percent of the people in our profession own this book, we will impact the world in profound ways.”

—Dan Hawkins, LIFE Coach and Speaker

“I couldn’t stop reading. Orrin Woodward has already proven to be one of the foremost thought leaders of the twenty-first century. Now he reminds us of the age-old adage ‘Facts tell, but stories sell.’ The Leadership Train is a fun fiction tale that demonstrates exactly what one needs to do to create financial freedom in direct sales, written by one of the greatest networkers in history.”

—Ken Dunn, CEO of Next Century Publishing

“Over the years, I have seen the potential of many people go unfulfilled because they couldn’t frame their own doubts and fears and then overcome them. Orrin Woodward has brilliantly laid out the emotions that so many people deal with as they try to get traction and succeed and then systematically shown readers how to grow as a leader and win. Orrin has always stood above all others in understanding not just the science but also the art of building a community, and in this book, he has combined that wisdom into a clear, heartfelt tale of one man’s journey as he builds the LIFE Leadership opportunity.”

—Claude Hamilton, Bestselling Author of Toughen Up!

I can’t encourage you enough to take the time and read this short story that has actually taken over 14 years to develop. Not only will you learn the principles, techniques, and concepts to help you make a decision about life and leadership, but it will also teach you how to build a successful Compensated Community. You will not only learn about business success but I predict you will also gather golden nuggets that you can immediately apply to make your life better. 

—Bill Lewis – LIFE Coach and Speaker

Posted in Leadership/Personal Development, LIFE Leadership | 33 Comments »

Personal and Professional Turnarounds

Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 6, 2014

I wanted to share Jim Collins’s summary of his 5 stages of decline. These stages can cause both personal and professional decline and must be recognized before its too late. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Socrates, the examined life is extremely rare and most people do not take the time to study the scoreboard of life. Here is your opportunity to study Collin’s list and see which area you can improve.

LIFE Leadership is about personal and professional development to launch a leadership revolution. Are you ready for the revolution?

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Our research indicates that organizational decline is largely self-inflicted, and recovery largely within our own control. So long as you never fall all the way to Stage 5, you can rebuild.

While a full exploration of the five stages is beyond the scope of this excerpt, here is a brief summary:

STAGE 1: HUBRIS BORN OF SUCCESS
Great enterprises can become insulated by success; accumulated momentum can carry an enterprise forward for a while, even if its leaders make poor decisions or lose discipline. Stage 1 kicks in when people become arrogant, regarding success virtually as an entitlement, and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place. When the rhetoric of success (“We’re successful because we do these specific things”) replaces penetrating understanding and insight (“We’re successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work”), decline will very likely follow. Luck and chance play a role in many successful outcomes, and those who fail to acknowledge the role luck may have played in their success—and thereby overestimate their own merit and capabilities—have succumbed to hubris.

The best leaders we’ve studied never presume they’ve reached ultimate understanding of all the factors that brought them success. For one thing, they retain a somewhat irrational fear that perhaps their success stems in large part from fortuitous circumstance. Suppose you discount your own success (“We might have been just really lucky/were in the right place at the right time/have been living off momentum/have been operating without serious competition”) and thereby worry incessantly about how to make yourself stronger and better-positioned for the day your good luck runs out. What’s the downside if you’re wrong? Minimal: If you’re wrong, you’ll just be that much stronger by virtue of your disciplined approach. But suppose instead you succumb to hubris and attribute success to your own superior qualities (“We deserve success because we’re so good/so smart/so innovative/so amazing”). What’s the downside if you’re wrong? Significant. You just might find yourself surprised and unprepared when you wake up to discover your vulnerabilities too late.

STAGE 2: UNDISCIPLINED PURSUIT OF MORE
Hubris from Stage 1 (“We’re so great, we can do anything!”) leads right to Stage 2, the Undisciplined Pursuit of More—more scale, more growth, more acclaim, more of whatever those in power see as “success.” Companies in Stage 2 stray from the disciplined creativity that led them to greatness in the first place, making undisciplined leaps into areas where they cannot be great or growing faster than they can achieve with excellence—or both. When an organization grows beyond its ability to fill its key seats with the right people, it has set itself up for a fall. Although complacency and resistance to change remain dangers to any successful enterprise, overreaching better captures how the mighty fall.

Discontinuous leaps into areas in which you have no burning passion is undisciplined. Taking action inconsistent with your core values is undisciplined. Investing heavily in new arenas where you cannot attain distinctive capability, better than your competitors, is undisciplined. Launching headlong into activities that do not fit with your economic or resource engine is undisciplined. Addiction to scale is undisciplined. To neglect your core business while you leap after exciting new adventures is undisciplined. To use the organization primarily as a vehicle to increase your own personal success—more wealth, more fame, more power—at the expense of its long-term success is undisciplined. To compromise your values or lose sight of your core purpose in pursuit of growth and expansion is undisciplined.

STAGE 3: DENIAL OF RISK AND PERIL
As companies move into Stage 3, internal warning signs begin to mount, yet external results remain strong enough to “explain away” disturbing data or to suggest that the difficulties are “temporary” or “cyclic” or “not that bad,” and “nothing is fundamentally wrong.” In Stage 3, leaders discount negative data, amplify positive data, and put a positive spin on ambiguous data. Those in power start to blame external factors for setbacks rather than accept responsibility. The vigorous, fact-based dialogue that characterizes high-performance teams dwindles or disappears altogether. When those in power begin to imperil the enterprise by taking outsize risks and acting in a way that denies the consequences of those risks, they are headed straight for Stage 4.

Bill Gore, founder of W.L. Gore & Associates, articulated a helpful concept for decision-making and risk-taking, what he called the “waterline” principle. Think of being on a ship, and imagine that any decision gone bad will blow a hole in the side of the ship. If you blow a hole above the waterline (where the ship won’t take on water and possibly sink), you can patch the hole, learn from the experience, and sail on. But if you blow a hole below the waterline, you can find yourself facing gushers of water pouring in, pulling you toward the ocean floor. And if it’s a big enough hole, you might go down really fast, just like some of the financial firm catastrophes of 2008. To be clear, great enterprises do make big bets, but they avoid big bets that could blow holes below the waterline.

STAGE 4: GRASPING FOR SALVATION
The cumulative peril and/or risks gone bad of Stage 3 assert themselves, throwing the enterprise into a sharp decline visible to all. The critical question is: How does its leadership respond? By lurching for a quick salvation or by getting back to the disciplines that brought about greatness in the first place? Those who grasp for salvation have fallen into Stage 4. Common “saviors” include a charismatic visionary leader, a bold but untested strategy, a radical transformation, a dramatic cultural revolution, a hoped-for blockbuster product, a “game-changing” acquisition, or any number of other silver-bullet solutions. Initial results from taking dramatic action may appear positive, but they do not last.

When we find ourselves in trouble, when we find ourselves on the cusp of falling, our survival instinct and our fear can prompt lurching—reactive behavior absolutely contrary to survival. The very moment when we need to take calm, deliberate action, we run the risk of doing the exact opposite and bringing about the very outcomes we most fear. By grasping about in fearful, frantic reaction, late Stage 4 companies accelerate their own demise. Of course, their leaders can later claim: “But look at everything we did. We changed everything. We tried everything we could think of. We fired every shot we had, and we still fell. You can’t blame us for not trying.” They fail to see that leaders atop companies in the late stages of decline need to get back to a calm, clear-headed, and focused approach. If you want to reverse decline, be rigorous about what not to do.

STAGE 5: CAPITULATION TO IRRELEVANCE OR DEATH
The longer a company remains in Stage 4, repeatedly grasping for silver bullets, the more likely it will spiral downward. In Stage 5, accumulated setbacks and expensive false starts erode financial strength and individual spirit to such an extent that leaders abandon all hope of building a great future. In some cases the company’s leader just sells out; in other cases the institution atrophies into utter insignificance; and in the most extreme cases the enterprise simply dies outright.

The point of the struggle is not just to survive, but to build an enterprise that makes such a distinctive impact on the world it touches (and does so with such superior performance) that it would leave a gaping hole—a hole that could not be easily filled by any other institution—if it ceased to exist. To accomplish this requires leaders who retain faith that they can find a way to prevail in pursuit of a cause larger than mere survival (and larger than themselves) while also maintaining the stoic will needed to take whatever actions must be taken, however excruciating, for the sake of that cause.

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