Advice from leaders

Henry Dormann’s book Letters from leaders: Personal Advice for Tomorrow’s Leaders from the World’s Most Influential People is a collection of letters and advice from some of the most successful leaders around the world.

I read the book early in January. Honestly, I don’t remember much any more. But yesterday when I reviewed the book shortly before the book discussion, the following letters jumped at me.

In the letter by the 39th president Jimmy Carter titled Expand your hearts and minds, he wrote: “I would say try new things. Don’t restrict your lives. Don’t live encapsulated in a cocoon just with people like you who speak the same language, or look the same, or sing the same song, or worship the same way, but constantly explore new ideas and new experiences.”

Several leaders shared the same advice on taking risks.

William Harrison said: “Work hard. Take risks. Everyone can be a leader. Taking risks is very important. You should take risks all the time to improve and to prove yourself.”

Muriel Siebert said: “Take stands, take risks, take responsibility. You create opportunities by performing, not complaining. You see an opportunity and step up to the plate.”

I am not a big risk taker. I admire people who are. Having the courage to take risks and step out of the comfort zone is something I need to be better at.

In the letter by Muhammad Ali, he wrote: “Most of all, I believe in God and the wisdom he has for what my life should be.”

As a former atheist growing up in a communist country, believing not in someone, a human being, but in an invisible God, was a big challenge and change for me. So when I read about famous and successful people and find that they believe in God, that is encouraging and reaffirming for me.

Another letter I like talks about giving back. “It’s important to give back to the community in which you live and work.” “Giving back is more than an obligation, it’s a privilege.”

Indeed, people who can share their time, treasure and talent are privileged.