Tag Archives: Leadership

What is Leadership?

The following excerpt was taking from Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady’s New York Times best-selling book, Launching a Leadership Revolution

What is Leadership?

The concept of “leadership” is a complex one. Most everybody has a feel for what the term means, at least in a general sense, but generalizations about leadership don’t help us very much. In order to understand how to lead and why to lead and what it even means to lead, we’d better get clear on what comprises this complex idea embodied in this simple little English word.

Brady and WoodwardWe’ve tried this exercise of defining leadership with audiences large and small, and invariably the same thing happens. We begin getting word phrases that all sound pretty good, phrases like “taking responsibility” and “getting results,” or one-word descriptors such as “commitment,” “perseverance,” “charisma,” and “integrity.” These are all true in a sense, but somehow they don’t go far enough. So then we switch to attempting definitions by combining all these phrases, but it creates so much mumbo jumbo, like one big buzzword soup from a corporate boardroom. Somehow the words meant something to us individually when thinking about leadership, but when fused together, the life went right out of them.

At this point, it may be helpful to turn to some experts on the subject. Surely they can bring some congruity. The list that follows is just a short offering:

  1. James C. Hunter: “We define leadership . . . as a skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically toward goals identified as being for the common good.”
  2. Al Kaltman: “The successful leader gets superior performance from ordinary people.”
  3. Bill George: “The leader’s job is to provide an empowering environment that enables employees to serve their customers and provides them the training, education, and support they need.”
  4. Andy Stanley: “Leaders provide a mental picture of a preferred future and then ask people to follow them there.”
  5. Vance Packard: “Leadership is getting others to want to do something that you are convinced should be done.”
  6. Garry Wills: “Leadership is mobilizing others toward a goal shared by the leader and followers.”
  7. Alan Keith: “Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.”
  8. George Barna: “A leader is one who mobilizes; one whose focus is influencing people; a person who is goal driven; someone who has an orientation in common with those who rely upon him for leadership; and someone who has people willing to follow them,” and “Leadership is the process of motivating, mobilizing, resourcing, and directing people to passionately and strategically pursue a vision from God that a group jointly embraces.”
  9. Kenneth O. Gangel: “I consider leadership to be the exercise of one’s special gifts under the call of God to serve a certain group of people in achieving the goals God has given them toward the end of glorifying Christ.”
  10. Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

These insights and definitions are good and helpful, and some we like particularly, but John Maxwell gives an exemplary definition, quoted here at length from his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership:

Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less. People have so many misconceptions about leadership. When they hear that someone has an impressive title or an assigned leadership position, they assume that he is a leader. Sometimes that’s true. But titles don’t have much value when it comes to leading. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that can’t be mandated. It must be earned.

What, then, is influence? Our favorite explanation of influence comes to us from nineteenth-century preacher and author Albert Barnes: “Influence is that in a man’s known talents, learning, character, experience, and position, on which a presumption is based that what he holds is true; that what he proposes is wise.”

George Barna tells us, “To be effective, a leader must have influence. But influence is a product of great leadership; it is not synonymous with it. You can have influence in a person’s life without leading him anywhere.”

Perhaps there will never be a short, cute definition for leadership. We are certain there will never be one upon which all “experts” agree. This very difficulty in arriving at a concise explanation for the concept illustrates the enormity of the subject at hand. But all of the above definitions hit near the same mark. Any attempts to be more concise or specific are like trying to grab smoke. For the purpose of this study, then, we will fuse the above commentary into the following:

Leadership is the influence of others in a productive, vision-driven direction
and is done through the example, conviction, and character of the leader.

(Posted by Kristen Seidl, on behalf of Chris Brady)

Hunger as a Discipline

The following excerpt was taking from Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward’s New York Times Best-seller, Launching a Leadership Revolution

Those who take active responsibility to foster their motivation on a regular basis will outperform those who do not. It is the responsibility of the leader to keep him or herself hungry on a regular basis. Napoleon Hill, author of the world-famous book Think and Grow Rich, said, “One must realize that all who have accumulated great fortunes first did a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, wishing, desiring, and planning before they acquired money.”

All of leadership starts with hunger. At any point in time when the leader is not hungry, the leader is not functioning as a leader. This may sound radical, but it is true. Remember, a leader takes people somewhere. The moment the leader is not moving, the leader is not leading. And it takes ambition to keep the leader moving.

Picture success as a road that leads to your dreams:

LLR

Along each side of the road are shoulders. Often the shoulders of roads are comprised of gravel. If a driver inadvertently runs onto the gravel, the sound serves as a warning that a course correction is required to resume traveling safely on the road. Conversely, sometimes that same gravel can grip the wheels of the vehicle and pull it from the road into the ditch.

On the left shoulder is comfort. Comfort is fine in small doses and in certain areas of life, but, like gravel, it can also serve as a warning. Remember, ambition flourishes in discontent with the status quo. Discontent and comfort cannot coexist. If a leader becomes too comfortable, ambition will die, and the soft gravel of comfort can pull him or her down into the Ditch of Complacency. Complacency is defined by Webster as “self satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” Complacency pulls a leader from the road of success and halts all travel toward his or her dreams, as when a car is stuck in a ditch.

There is another danger in traveling too close to the Shoulder of Comfort: opposing traffic. Most people in life are looking for the easy road. They want comfort and will pay the price of mediocrity to get it, so they rush toward it like cows to the barn at feeding time. If a leader attempts to lead from a position of comfort, he or she will run smack into that mass of traffic heading in the other direction away from dreams and toward mediocrity.

Leaders, however, shun comfort and seek excellence instead. They subscribe to the theory held by author Al Kaltman: “Without meaningful work, life stinks.” They travel down the right lane in the diagram and away from oncoming traffic. The right lane is never crowded. There always seems to be a shortage of leaders but a plethora of people heading the other way. This is one thing that makes a leader so special. Also notice that being a leader means traveling close to the Shoulder of Frustration. In fact, this is the mark of any true leader. Being a leader is a study in managed frustration. How can one have ambition for a brighter tomorrow without being frustrated at the current set of realities? How can a leader be at war with the status quo and not be frustrated at the same time? The answer, of course, is that no leader can. Any real leader traveling the Road of Success toward his or her dreams will encounter frustration along the journey. Frustration can be healthy, but just like the shoulder on the other side of the road, this gravel of frustration presents a trap. Too much frustration can be a warning to the leader that his or her attitude is dipping and could pull the leader down into the Ditch of Discouragement. Discouragement is a showstopper because it robs the leader of hope. Without hope, the leader is trapped in the Ditch of Discouragement and makes no further progress toward his or her dreams.

CB quote pic 4

The only way to stay away from oncoming traffic, the Shoulder of Comfort, and the Ditch of Complacency—and the only way to travel near the Shoulder of Frustration but clear of the Ditch of Discouragement—is to focus straight ahead on the dreams in front of you. Having a dream focus keeps a leader safely on the Road to Success. The best way to stay focused is to manage that hunger.

So staying hungry is actually a discipline. Webster defines discipline as “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties.” Hunger is certainly a mental faculty; notice that it needs training, molding, and perfecting. True leaders understand this and take the necessary steps on a regular basis to provide their hunger with the proper care and feeding. Many times, leaders don’t need to know more about what is to be done; they just need to find more leverage for themselves to do what they already know how to do.

(Posted by Kristen Seidl, on behalf of Chris Brady)

How to Become a Mentor of Mentors

In their book Launching a Leadership Revolution, authors Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward wrote about the five levels of influence, teaching that understanding each is an important skill for great leaders. These levels include:

1. Learning
2. Performing
3. Leading
4. Developing leaders
5. Developing leaders who develop leaders

Great mentoring is all about levels four and five. Brady and Woodward said, “When we wrote the book, we didn’t know it would become a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller. We didn’t know that many thousands of people would embrace it and use it to build companies that build leaders. But we did know that leadership is only level 3, and that even more important than leadership is developing leaders.”

CB and OW quoteIn short, the greatest mentors don’t mentor only those they work with directly. Rather, they think of the people their mentees will mentor and even those who will be mentored
four or five generations ahead, and they help their mentees become the type of mentors who can become great mentors of mentors.

For example, consider how this works in a family setting. Some people focus on their career as the center point of life. Ask most people what they do in life, and they’ll say they’re a doctor, attorney, accountant, businessperson, engineer, or some other profession.

Sometimes, in contrast, we meet people who answer the same question by saying, “I’m a dad,” “I’m a father to three great children,” or “I’m a wife and mother.” While this cheeky answer frequently indicates that the person has given a lot of thought to his or her life purpose and priorities, the truth is that there is an even better way.

On one level, we can focus on our work life as the center of our purpose.

At a higher level, we can make our marriage and parental relationships the top priority.

At an even better level, we can be the kind of parents who wisely and consciously raise our grandkids—even when our own kids are just little. This means thinking through what we’re really doing as parents. Are we just career people who happen to have kids? Hopefully not.

Likewise, are we spouses and parents raising kids to be confident, contributing adults? This is a good step.

Or are we, above all, future grandparents who are raising our kids to be fantastic parents who themselves will raise their children in a way that positively influences several generations to come? Those who see their role in such far-reaching generational terms will approach their marriage and parenting in a purposeful way.

The same applies to business mentoring. If we mentor only the people with whom we work directly, we won’t be as helpful to them as if we see our role as one of mentoring them to be great mentors of mentors.

(This excerpt was taken from the Life Essentials Series book, Mentoring Matters. Posted by Kristen Seidl, on behalf of Chris Brady)

Life Leadership’s “You, Inc.” Financial Hierarchy or Pyramid

Proper Financial Fitness begins with mastering the Defense, Offense, and Playing Field of money.  For the many satisfied customers (click here and scroll down for textual, audio, and video testimonials) of Life’s Financial Fitness suite of products and services, this is exactly what they have discovered and put to good use.

But there IS more.

Just what do you do with the money once you stop being scammed as a victim of debt and start to instead enjoy the thrill ride of having extra money at the end of the month?  Where do you put it? How do you go about determining which investments might be right for you?

In this quick video shot several months ago in the hot Florida sun, I try to give a quick fly-by of how we present the answers to these questions in our new addition to the series: the Beyond Financial Fitness program.  It covers the concept of the “You, Inc. Hierarchy” or Pyramid of priority for your money.

I hope you enjoy the video, and more importantly, that you find the information useful!

God bless!

Chris Brady

The information presented on this blog and in any of its videos is for general educational purposes only, and provides information the authors believe to be accurate on the subject matter covered.  It is presented here with the understanding that neither the authors nor the publisher are providing advice for any particular portfolio or for any individual’s particular situation, or rendering investment advice or other professional services such as legal or accounting advice.  If expert advice in areas that include investment, legal, and accounting are needed, please seek a competent professional’s services.

This publication may make reference to performance data collected over various periods of time.  Remember that past results do not guarantee future performance.  Performance data, as well as laws and regulations, change over time, which could affect the applicability of the information presented on this blog and its videos.  Any data presented herein is used merely to illustrate the underlying principles.

This blog and its videos are not to serve as the basis for any financial decision or as a recommendation of any specific investment.

No warranty is made with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, and both the authors and the publisher specifically disclaim any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this blog and its videos.

A Rascal’s Battle Plan: The Productive Loop

In Chris Brady’s book, Rascal, he lays out the foundation of a leader’s journey toward success and some of the roadblocks that can happen along the way. Brady calls this process: The Productive Loop, and it can be found in greater detail in Chapter 4 of his book. Here is an overview of the Rascal’s Battle Plan, as explained by Chris Brady. May it bring clarity and encouragement to your leadership journey!


There is a pattern of success for any Rascal choosing to be a force for good and seeking to achieve excellence and significance. It is called the Productive Loop.

the-productive-loopRascals start out ignorant like everyone else. They simply don’t know what they don’t know about a certain subject, and they may not even realize they are Rascals. But then new information finds its way into their consciousness, either through a good book, a friend, a life experience, or whatever. This new information suggests a path toward accomplishment, a route of opportunity, an idea to be tried. Immediately, though, upon receiving this new information, most Rascals, being Rascals, are skeptical. They take a mental step back to consider what they are learning with a critical eye. Eventually, however, that new information starts to make sense. This leads to curiosity. The Rascal begins asking ‘What if?’ questions, considering possibilities. From there the Rascal digs into the learning process. The learning curve is steep because the Rascal is learning quickly, happily gaining knowledge in the direction of this new possibility. Learning becomes extremely fun, because it is so relevant. This leads to excitement. The Rascal can feel the enthusiasm rushing into everything he does. This excitement, in turn, leads to the overcoming of fears. Things that in the past, without this purposeful direction would have held the Rascal back are now no match at all. Small trees are smashed down in front of him, hills are scaled, rivers forded, and mountains climbed as the Rascal is now in hot pursuit of a brighter tomorrow.

This spirited action leads to progress. Progress is one of the best encouragers known to man. Progress builds belief, confidence, and momentum. Progress lets the Rascal know he is on track; his efforts are making an impact, and his learning has merit. Therefore, he learns even more. He applies what he learns, analyzes how it affects his actions, makes adjustments, does more, learns more, and accomplishes more. He is in the Productive Loop. He is in “The Zone”.

Life in the “The Zone”

“The Zone” is a concept that describes a peak performer in a moment all their own, where they are doing exactly what God built them to do, to the best of their ability, with all of their faculties aligned and intensely focused. It is Michael Jordan in the closing seconds calmly hitting the outside shot to win the game. It is those moments when a champion gets to call on all the hours of preparation, planning, and practice and put it all together. It is a rare, true moment in life.

“Being in ‘The Zone’ is when one’s actions are perfectly in line with one’s purpose.” – Chris Brady

bradyThose in my audiences who don’t understand what I am talking about can barely even relate to a Rascal. They don’t speak the same language, feel the same impulses, or have the same magnitude of dreams and aspirations. They don’t live in The Zone. Instead, they live zoned out, and it’s a shame. The great news, though, is that nobody gets to choose for you. It’s all up to you. Anyone can choose to do what it takes to be a Rascal and perform to such a peak as to find himself in The Zone.  Don’t think that Obstaclès isn’t actively at work trying to stop Rascals everywhere from succeeding as a force for good. He is poised and ready at every step of their journey to throw up barriers and dig potholes. Obstaclès particularly hates it when Rascals are in The Zone, because he knows that in those moments his weapons have the least effect. As the old saying goes, “A dog in the hunt doesn’t know it has fleas.” Rascals are not bothered by Obstaclès’ tactics when they are in The Zone, focused and entirely committed to their task.

The Wimpification Process

Obstaclès succeeds in coaxing a Rascal out of the zone. It could be any of his weapons to do the trick, from fear of distraction to low self-confidence, to a failure in character, relationship challenges, or any of the others. Where once the Rascal was overcoming fears and learning and doing with excitement and enthusiasm, now the Rascal caves in to fears and falls into inaction.

The less action he puts forth the more his mind intellectualizes, becoming some elite thinker and never accomplishes anything. This leads to paralysis as fear sets in even further. Paralysis then leads to frustration. The Rascal starts looking at his or her lack of results.

Frustration is the moment of truth, of peak danger, a fork in the road. It is at moments of peak frustration where many Rascals leave the path of excellence never to return. This is where Rascal “wanna-be’s” turn into Rascal “has-beens.” They slip back into old ways, embracing the old vices and convincing themselves that it really isn’t so bad.

The final steps are justification and blame. Losers must always provide an excuse for their lack of winning. This begins with justification. It is a search for an excuse plausible enough to hide behind, first for the quitter, then for everyone he’ll tell. This justification rarely involves any responsibility on the part of the has-been Rascal. It is always someone else’s fault, or at the very least, it’s a situation that’s to blame.

“People will justify almost anything to themselves, when it serves their cowardice and covers their failures. Justification is the door through which character departs.” – Chris Brady

There is a name for people who were once on the path to becoming an official Rascal, but instead succumb to the slippery slope of the wimpification process and scorn Rascals and the principles for which they stand: Jackals.

jackal-for-productive-loop-article

Jackals become the natural enemy of Rascals everywhere because a Rascal’s example eliminates a Jackal’s excuses; the bigger the Rascal’s accomplishment, the more obvious the Jackal’s failure.

Revisiting the Fork in the Road

Let’s go back to the fork in the road where it all went wrong to see that even when things appear their darkest, a true Rascal still has a choice. Remember that the Wimpification process was caused by inaction, over-intellectualizing, analysis paralysis, and peak frustration. That is what brought the Rascal to the fork in the road. But by definition a fork has two options. It’s the other option chosen by the Rascal that makes all the difference. Understand: there is no shame in getting frustrated, falling into inaction, or having doubts and discouragements. It happens to everybody. Champions, however, keep these moments to a minimum and always find a way to pull out of them. How do they do this? By taking the other side of that fork in the road. At this moment we see the courage of the Rascal tested to the limit. They remember why they started out in the first place and refresh those dreams and causes in their minds until they reconnect with them emotionally. Having made the choice not to Wimpify, a Rascal seeks the association of other Rascals within whose company he can be strengthened and rebuilt.

Rascals encourage themselves by remembering that the worse the odds and the bigger the opposition, the better the drama and the more fascinating the story.  He goes back to the basic reasons he began this journey in the first place. He plugs back in to the learning cycle and starts to gain new information about the fundamentals of what he does while learning new techniques and methods that can improve his performance over what he did before. This new information leads to renewed excitement and the overcoming of fears. Then, action steps invigorate him and he feels his old strength returning. The more action he takes the more progress he sees as evidence that he’s made a wise and courageous choice. This progress fuels further learning and the Rascal has chosen himself back into the Productive Loop. Taken far enough with enough commitment, his renewed vigor might even lead him back into the highest level of the Productive Loop, that wonderful place called The Zone.

At this point, the Rascal is back! Obstaclès is forced back to the drawing board in frustration, planning his next attack with renewed hatred. And so the cycle goes throughout the life of a Rascal. Always tempted, always maligned, a Rascal knows his path is fraught with danger. He is a Rascal, though, because he presses forward boldly.

Rascals wage their individual battles against Obstaclès gallantly, knowing that their fight in the trenches has a tremendous impact on the overall battle raging in society.

“Rascals know that one person can and does make a difference, and strive mightily to do their part.” – Chris Brady

This will involve criticism and resistance, and may even result in the opposition throwing fruit! Undeterred, Rascals become a force for good and attack the status quo, striving to leave things better than they found them.

(Posted by Kristen Seidl, written by Chris Brady)

Life Leadership Reviews

The Top 10 Reasons Not to Join Life Leadership

One thing I learned a long time ago was that we should never take ourselves too seriously.  I love the Life Leadership business, and I love building it.  I also enjoy working with the many fine people who make up Life Leadership around the world.  In a busy season, with lots going on, it’s good to remember to enjoy the journey, too.

As usual, when Orrin Woodward and I get together, no matter how busy we are or how many issues are pressing, we always seem to have some good old fashioned fun.  At a recent Policy Council meeting in Florida, we took a little time to shoot a fairly spontaneous video.  This was (obviously) a one take wonder.  It was inspired by some research I had read in a book by Adam Grant discussing the idea of “front running one’s weaknesses.”  I won’t play spoiler here, and will instead let the video speak for itself, but these really are legitimate reasons someone should consider before getting involved selling our products.  We think what we do is great, but of course, it’s not for everyone!

I hope you enjoy it.  I think it embodies our slogan of Have Fun, Make Money, and Make a Difference!  Thanks for watching.

Sincerely,

Chris Brady

 

Pick Your Curve – Life Leadership and Power Curve Success

I have often taught that we don’t know what we don’t know. But sometimes, we don’t know what we think we know. And this second condition can lead to erroneous conclusions and frustrated efforts.

When I was a child in elementary school, one of my teachers had the nerve to teach me something I didn’t want to learn. She shared with us how the colorful objects we see really aren’t that color, but rather, the range of light waves of the color spectrum that are reflected by the surface of the item make it appear to be that color.

Woah.

And then my Dad taught me about the “birds and the bees.”

Double woah.

Here I was, cruising along on my BMX bike, wearing tube socks and thinking I had the whole world figured out. And then in an instant I discover that the way I thought everything worked was entirely wrong – twice!

Unfortunately, this condition isn’t confined to childhood. As adults, we are susceptible to the same “knowledge bias.” We think we know how something works when we actually don’t. And usually, we are very cock-sure in our incorrectness. It’s a condition I like to refer to as passionate ignorance. We are wrong, but we are certain we are right.

At Life Leadership, we are in the business of setting people free. For the vast majority of people who are in debt and struggle with their finances, we offer debt freedom through our Financial Fitness product suite. For committed, hard-working high-achievers, we provide a compensation program that authorizes people to sell our products and build teams of people who do the same thing. This is a shot at financial freedom. And, perhaps most importantly, for the few who are disenfranchised, disabled, or victims of disaster, we offer functional freedom through our Life on Life Initiative. We developed this terminology about “setting people free” and the three categories of freedom to explain our fundamental mission and how we strive to offer something for the whole spectrum of people and their particular situations.

But there is more to the story.

Most of us, without even realizing it, think of the world like the old “bell curve” we remember being graded upon in high school. We automatically think people and their performance fall into a normal distribution, or what is officially known as a “Gaussian” curve of distribution. I am sure you are familiar with what it looks like, but here it is nonetheless.

BellCurve

And in the case of the population of people in the markets in which Life Leadership operates, as described above, this bell curve of normal distribution describes very well what we see. A few at the high-end choose to take advantage of our pay plan and actually build the business. Most people are in the middle, merely using our Financial Fitness products to whittle down their debt (these people may or may not be “signed up” in our business). And a few are at the “bottom” of the curve in dire need of our help, because they truly can’t help themselves.

Freedombellcurve

But when it comes to describing the actual performance (read: results) of those who attempt to achieve high-level success, those who embrace our pay plan and determine that they want to use it to make money, things don’t follow the Gaussian bell curve, or normal distribution at all.  For this case, we must dig into the reality of how success actually “works.” You see, when it comes to success, and especially high-level success, what we think we know just isn’t so.

To demonstrate what I mean, let’s consider an endeavor totally outside of Life Leadership, such as being a professional actor/actress instead. The stage, the screen, the lights, the money, and the fame all have a strong appeal on those with such talents. We hear of high paychecks and we see outlandish lifestyles. We see the glitz and the glitter and the glossy gossip magazines. But we all know that only a few are fortunate enough to make it to this high level, and, thinking the bell or Gaussian curve describes the situation, we assume there must be a lot of people, in fact, most actors and actresses, who are somewhere in the middle, with a few terrible ones down at the lower tail of the curve. We all know this intrinsically, and yet we have it wrong!

According to leader of Google’s “People Operations”, Laszlo Bock, in his book Work Rules!, Screen Actors Guild data published in 2008 show that the financial results of actors does not follow a Gaussian curve at all, but rather what is called a “Power Curve” (or perhaps also a decaying exponential).

Power Curve

According to Bock, “Very roughly, the bottom third of active SAG members made no money from acting in 2007, and the next third earned less than $1,000. The next group, between the 68th and 95th percentiles, were paid between $1,000 and $100,000. The 95th to the 99th percentile actors earned between $100,000 and $250,000. And the top 1 percent earned over $250,000. The top 1 percent of the top 1 percent earned even more: Will Smith was the highest-paid actor, with over $80 million in earnings, followed by Johnny Depp ($72 million), Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers ($55 million each), and Leonardo DiCaprio ($45 million).” [italics added]

So for professional actors/actresses, the curve of distribution, roughly plotted, looks like the following:

Actorpowercurve

Notice that it is not the normal Gaussian bell curve at all, as we all would assume it would be, but rather a power curve. Notice also that the super high achievers at the extreme top end pull the average income way above the median. This means that most people are not average, but actually – wait for it – most people are below average! Stop and think about that for a minute. Most people are below average! (Oh! They’re not going to want to hear that!) Notice that fully 1/3 of the actors/actresses made no money! And the next third only $1,000! That’s two thirds of all the actors and actresses making next-to-nothing!

All of this goes against what we think we know. But if you really study this and understand it, you’ll quickly see that this curve for actors and actresses is exactly how success works in all categories where a government or artificial imposition is not placed upon results. Plot the financial results of people in professional sports, country singers, those who launch tech company start-ups, and even authors of books, and the results are similar – following a power curve and not a Gaussian bell curve.

Enter Life Leadership. In November of 2011 we proudly launched our company with world-class personal, professional, and financial development information and service products. We authorized distributors to sell those products for an immediate sales margin of 25% (a higher margin than many professional salespeople are paid), and then added a compensation plan on top of that sales margin to reward them for also building teams of people who did the same thing (merchandise our products and build teams to do the same). We worked really hard to minimize costs to run the enterprise and formulated a pay plan that paid very generously to the people making the sales.

Next, people joined, worked hard, sold our products, and built teams. Some people prospered and made enough money to live on, making the building of our business their professional career. A handful achieved really high levels of income, while many others only made a little. Many signed up and never did anything, riding off into the night after buying our starter kit never to be heard from again.

Each year, we publish a comprehensive “Income Disclosure Statement” designed to show the exact results of everyone who joins, whether they ever worked the business hard or not, or just signed up and rode into the night. And inevitably, someone looks at this data and says something like, “Only the people at the top make any significant money,” or, “most of those people aren’t making any money.” This criticism didn’t make any sense to us, from our angle, because we simply put a compensation plan out there that pays extremely well, and fairly at various levels all the way along the path of progress. It doesn’t discriminate in any way based upon race, creed, color, age, gender, or anything you can name. It is strictly pay-for-performance. So we have tried to explain it in different ways. But still, there will always be someone out there who says, “only a small percentage make the money.”

In a way, we can see their point. Why shouldn’t more people make more money? Why shouldn’t there be a bunch of people making a medium amount, for instance? How come there isn’t a larger percentage of people “in the middle” making the money our pay plan delivers for those levels? We’ve got a pay scale that rewards effort along the entire journey! And the 25% sales bonus is paid to everyone at every level no matter how long they’ve been with the company or how big their business is. What gives?

What gives is that our population of Life Members is not properly described by the Gaussian bell curve we all carry around in our heads, but rather by the Power Curve that depicts the results of all true performance-only systems (such as professional acting described above). Leave people free to achieve and perform in any endeavor, and you’ll get a power curve. Life Leadership and its compensation plan are no different.

This is very important to understand, and it applies to all areas of life, not just participation in Life Leadership’s compensation plan. High achievers are way ahead of the rest of the pack, and their results skew the scale and pull the average way above the median. What this means is not that one should avoid undertaking a performance-based endeavor, but rather that one should not falsely impose an erroneous bell curve in order to “analyze” the “odds of success.” With power curve situations averages are misleading because they are pulled upward by the lofty achievement of the top performers. And in true performance-only situations, there is no comfortable middle where a large percentage of the participants can hang out and do “pretty good.” Ultimately, one either makes it within the upper 1 or 2 or 5th percentile, or one doesn’t see much reward (at least financially speaking). As we said before, just apply this reality to professional sports, the arts, business start-ups, direct sales, and the like, and you will see that it is true again and again. Our false application of the bell curve simply won’t properly describe these “free to perform” situations. Such a map, in essence, doesn’t match the territory.

This is simply how the world works. In fact, the only alternative is to create a system wherein outside forces eliminate the upper possibilities based upon performance so that everybody instead gets a decent result but nothing big is available for high achievement. This, in fact, is exactly what most jobs provide. In such scenarios you will never hit it big (it’s not even available), but you can count on a steady flow of at least something for the fat middle of the pack. Some will get a little bit more, others will hang out at the bottom, but most people will be kept clumped together in the comfortable middle.

And this brings us full circle to the exact reason we launched our company in the first place. We wanted a legitimate alternative to a closed system of enforced mediocrity. We wanted to provide a legitimate shot upwards, without restriction, that would be available to anyone who chose to work that hard, learn that much, and stay at it that long. As cofounder Orrin Woodward often states, “We don’t promise easy. We just promise worth it.”

So ultimately, we have two choices in life. Find a closed system with outside forces that artificially impose a safe and “comfortable” bell curve, a situation with no chance of high highs but very little worry about low lows. Or, conversely, enter into a power curve situation where there is not much reward unless you perform mightily. It is one or the other.

It is ultimately up to each individual to choose which is right for him/her, and what God has designed and called him/her to accomplish. Just don’t apply bell curve analysis to a power curve situation and call it “unfair,” or a “scheme” or a “pyramid.” And then likewise, those who live in the power curves of life shouldn’t denigrate bell curve situations for being stifling and without upward mobility. Each is for whom it’s for.

Just make sure you choose wisely. Bell curve people are miserable in power curves, and power curve people are miserable in bell curves.

Pick your curve and live it with verve!

Sincerely,

Chris Brady

Smile - Version 2

The information presented on this blog and in any of its videos is for general educational purposes only, and provides information the authors believe to be accurate on the subject matter covered.  It is presented here with the understanding that neither the authors nor the publisher are providing advice for any particular portfolio or for any individual’s particular situation, or rendering investment advice or other professional services such as legal or accounting advice.  If expert advice in areas that include investment, legal, and accounting are needed, please seek a competent professional’s services.

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