When it comes to leadership, every day is a school day. The best, most successful leaders are undoubtedly the ones who are constantly learning from their successes and from their failures. But learning only has value when it leads to change. In this case ensuring that we optimise the things that are working well whilst ensuring we do not continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. In this week’s article I have shared five of the most significant lessons that I've learned and captured in my journal over the past 12 months. I hope they are of value to you.

Ask questions instead of asking for questions.

No matter how many times you ask if people have any questions, no matter how approachable you think you are, people will always hold back. They will hold back because they are afraid of looking stupid in front of you, in front of their peers. This is a lesson I recently rediscovered from my time in the Army. At the end of a briefing – we would always ask questions of our team to ensure clarity and alignment. We never sought clarity by asking our team if they had any questions.

“Great leaders do not test for understanding by asking for questions.  Great leaders test for understanding by asking questions.”

One man’s wisdom is another man’s folly.

The fact that you’re even reading this tells me that you are the type of person who is hungry to grow and be better in every area of your life. This doesn’t mean however that you should be a slave to the advice, tactics and routines that others espouse. Instead, challenge and develop their ideas so that they work for you. Above all else, be ready to reject those things that do not work for you; provided you are not rejecting them simply to avoid doing the work or stepping out of your comfort zone.


Embrace the weird, nuanced, authentic you.

The more authentic you are, the better everything in life becomes. Your health, energy, leadership capabilities, work performance and relationships all kick-on to new levels when you start to drop the mask and let people get to know the real you. The irony here of course is that dropping the mask means that you have to be prepared to be vulnerable. It takes huge amounts of courage. If you want to know more, then read about my own dropping the mask journey here.


Nothing happens by chance.

Someone once told me that there is no such thing as luck, just timing and judgement. The power of this simple statement for me lies in the fact that timing and judgement are two things that are within our control. And where we can’t control them, we can usually influence them. All events and opportunities that present themselves to us are a result of what we choose to focus on, the choices we make and the actions we take. Ultimately, clarity of vision supported by constant, focussed action will deliver the results you seek in every aspect of you life.


Discipline and structure provide freedom and autonomy.

Regular readers of my blog and those who have worked with me as part of my elite Leadership Mentoring and Performance Coaching programme will be familiar with the routines and structures that I use to help craft a world-class life. Developing laser-like clarity on the things and projects that really matter to you in life, allows you to say yes and no to the right things. Scheduling your priorities into your year, quarters, weeks and days does not reduce your freedom. Instead, it provides huge flexibility and choice because you know that the important stuff is taken care of. Leaving you with total freedom around how you use your remaining time.

If this lesson has piqued your interest then I highly recommend reading Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

If you want more…

If you would love to read about more of the most significant lessons that I’ve learned in business and in life this year then please drop me an email titled “More”. This article is just five of the fifteen major lessons I’ve captured in my journal this year. If they have been of value to you, then I’d love to be of service and share the other ten.

 What’s your greatest lesson?

But what about you? What is the single most important lesson that you’ve learned in business or in life this year?

Please email me your thoughts, as I’d genuinely love to hear what you’ve learned in 2017. ben@twentyoneleadership.com