A few years back, I was given a challenge to read less books on leadership and more true stories about leaders. I took that challenge, and started reading more biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. Over the last several years, I’ve read a number of outstanding books that tell the real-life stories of leaders I’ve looked up to.
Last session, I started sharing my top non-fiction “story” books. And today, I’m continuing the list. Here are three more of my favorites:
Book #3: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
- This book is the true story of nine Americans and their epic quest to win a gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in the sport of rowing.
- Their story shows how determination, hard work, and even pain can create joy, camaraderie, and help you accomplish your most significant goals.
- I love this quote: “It was when he tried to talk about “the boat” that his words began to falter and tears welled up in his bright eyes…Finally, watching Joe struggle for composure over and over, I realized that “the boat” was something more than just the shell or it’s crew. To Joe…it was a shared experience–a singular thing that had unfolded in a golden sliver of time long gone, when nine good-hearted young men strove together, pulled together as one, gave everything they had for one another, bound together forever by pride and respect and love.”
Book #4: Just As I Am Billy Graham
- Whether you are religious or not, there is no denying that Billy Graham is one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. He is what I call a leader’s leader. He personally met every President from Truman to Obama and was a friend and mentor to many of them.
- One of my favorite quotes: “True greatness is not measured by the headlines a person commands or the wealth he or she accumulates. The inner character of a person—the undergirding moral and spiritual values and commitments—is the true measure of lasting greatness.”
Book #5: Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees and Chris Fabry
- This book is a great insight into the life of one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL and even better men. He’s been counted out most of his life, and overcame many obstacles to lead the Saints to their first Super Bowl, becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
- A quote from Drew: “I’ve learned that adversity is actually an opportunity. It’s a gift, though it may not look like it in the moment. The difficulties life throws at you can be a doorway to something better—something you hadn’t even dreamed possible.”
Here’s today’s game plan – we’re going to put this leadership training session into practice:
- Name 5 influential people whether past or present.
- Find an autobiography or biography of that person and read it.
- Once you’ve read it, think back: what were the key leadership principles or core values that they lived by?