Leadership, growing your influence and making an impact

“Why is your first book about your mum and not your dad”

I pondered on that as I handed an autographed copy of the book to my friend sitting across the table from me. Then, I explained. My mum’s six lessons became my blueprint for navigating through my career and business.

The dean of my first leadership school was a high school dropout bus driver.
I received the best leadership lessons from watching how my dad led himself and the apprentices who learnt their trade from him. He valued punctuality, presentation and respect. His apprentices loved being around him because he pushed them to be better. When I was about seven or eight years old, he would sometimes take me on rides on his bus while he worked.

I saw how he did everything with his “boys” – from having lunch to cleaning the bus together. No one was the boss.

Reflecting on those experiences have helped me develop great insights that are shaping my leadership style. Then I remembered how my story resonated with Dr Rick Rigsby’s “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout.” When I returned home from that dinner, I flipped through my YouTube playlist to rewatch Dr Rigby’s California Maritime Academy commencement speech.

 “Philosophy, the major determining factor in how your life works out.” – Jim Rohn

I encourage you to consider the six lessons I picked to help you in shaping your leadership philosophy. While these lessons may sound like simple, common-sense ideas, they are not commonplace. The video amassed millions of views for a reason.
Dr Rick Rigsby said his father taught him “how to combine knowledge and wisdom to great an impact.” Leadership is about influence and impact, not about title or position.

“Philosophy, the major determining factor in how your life works out.” – Jim Rohn
Here are the simple yet profound five leadership lessons I culled from the YouTube video.

1)    Be punctual

One day I watched dad drive off before I could rinse off the lather from one of the back tires because he had a pick appointment to make. Writing this point is a wake-up call and poignant reminder of dad’s sternest lesson. He said, “showing up early for an appointment is proof of respect.”

“Son, you’d rather be an hour early than a minute late.” – Mr Rigsby

2)    Treat others with humility, kindness and dignity

Have the humility to learn from others around you, the courage to accept that you do not have all the answers and don’t have to take all the credit. Dr Rigby said, “Ego is the anaesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.”

“Son, make sure your servant’s towel is bigger than your ego.” – Mr Rigsby

3) Learn to serve to know how to lead.

One of the most successful coaches in USA college basketball and a mentor to John C Maxwell, John Wooden was famous for sweeping the gym floor after his players. The formula for making an impact is to serve, attract and influence.

“You want to make an impact? Find your broom.” – Dr Rick Rigsby

4) Value people instead of judging

According to the leadership expert, John C Maxwell, giving value to people and expressing that to them is the common ground that builds relationships. In his book, Dr Rigsby asked, “What do people feel like after they have been in your presence? Do they walk away saying, “I saw another possibility in life?” Or do they depart undaunted, unaffected, and none the better?”

“Son, don’t judge people.” –Dr Rick Rigsby

5. Strive for excellence

I have scars on my knees and hands from bending down to wash the undercarriage of dad’s cabs. So, I was almost furious when I found out the cabs that scared me were not his. And I asked him this – “Why do you take so much care of these cars when they are not your?”

My dad replied, “You must handle everything in your control with diligence and care as best as you can, yours or not. Because how you handle others’ is how you will handle yours.”

When asked why he left the house at 3:45 AM every day, Mr Rigsby replied, “Maybe, one day, my boys will catch me in the act of excellence.”

“Good enough is not good enough if it can be better. And better is not good enough if it can be best.” – Dr Rick Rigsby

6. Be resilient

I grew up seeing my dad lose one job after another. But, he kept believing that the next one would be his chance of owning a car. That did not happen until he was 55. According to Dr Rigsby, the person that gets up off the canvas and keeps growing that’s the person that will continue to grow their influence.

Deflated, despondent and despaired standing beside his wife’s coffin, Dr Rigsby said three words from his dad lifted his spirit.

“Son, just stand.” – Mr Rigsby


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