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Your Life is Your Message

Your Life is Your Message
Discovering the Core of Transformational Leadership

First Edition
  • Nancy Blair - Professor Emerita, Cardinal Stritch University, Wisconsin, USA
  • Mark Gesner - Executive Direcator, Hub for Innovation and Community Engaged Learning, Cardinal Stritch University, Wisconsin, USA

January 2020 | 200 pages | SAGE Response
This book is a call to adventure, an opportunity to live life to the fullest and a guide to discovering your own path towards transformational leadership.When Mahatma Gandhi was asked by a reporter to sum up his life’s work, he responded simply, ‘My life is my message’. This book invites you on a journey to illuminate your life’s message to empower and align it with the legacy you want to leave behind.This journey will mentor you through the experiences of the CEOs of Starbucks and Southwest Airlines who developed their leadership messages early in life, and community catalysts in Kenya and India whose sense of purpose propelled them to enhance the lives of those in poverty. Based on over 100 interviews with leaders from around the world who found their way to mission-driven lives, you are led on a path to determine your life's meaning along with the influence you hope to achieve. Beyond insights from the inspirational figures, this book provides a model and practical tools to prompt introspection and greater clarity about your desired life trajectory. While intended for emerging and accomplished leaders of businesses, organizations and communities, it rings true for anyone who is interested in finding the authentic and impactful leader within. Enter with curiosity and be inspired by the extraordinary stories of others. It’s a journey not to be taken lightly, but rather one that demands your full attention. You, and those you seek to influence, deserve no less.
Foreword by Howard Behar
Chapter 1: Knowing Your Story and Intent
The Most Important Story is Your Own


Chapter 2: Why You, Why Now?
Reversing Your Influence

If Not You, Who? If Not Now, When?

Chapter 3: Finding Your Path to Presence
Observing and Practicing Presence

Selecting a Coach

Chapter 4: Initial Exploration
Defining Moment

Chapter 5: Your Who
Influences on Your Identity

Chapter 6: Your Why
Writing Your Mission Statement

Chapter 7: Your What
Picture How Your Mission Frames Your Vision

Chapter 8: Your How
SPEAKing for Yourself

Chapter 9: Re-crossing the Threshold
Your Personal Plan for Sustainability

Chapter 10: Discovering Home
Where I Belong

Appendix: Table of Leaders Interviewed

This book skillfully pulls together important lessons from diverse exemplars who remind us that to lead effectively, we must be willing to listen, learn, value people and be open to challenging our mindsets so that ultimately we can transform local and global systems for a more sustainable future. To be a true leader, one must stay curious and always be learning.

Dr Mehmood Khan,
Life Biosciences CEO and PepsiCo Former Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer

Managers manage, leaders lead and inspirational leaders inspire. It’s a journey all leaders take, some reach the final stage, but why some and not others? Becoming that leader who inspires means that people follow because they believe in something bigger than themselves, the company that they work for and the product or service that they provide. Fulfillment comes in many forms, but finding it in work can be one of life’s greatest pleasures and this book will help many find such fulfillment.

Jeff Hembrock,
Former President, Miller Brewing Company

Here is an inspirational examination of a wide range of highly effective leaders—of how their individual growth was shaped by determination, focus, courage and life experience. This instructive, thought-provoking analysis has universal and multigenerational appeal to readers at various stages of their career path. It encourages you to be authentic, embrace your uniqueness with pride and dare to reach beyond your comfort zone.

Brenda B. Schoonover,
US Ambassador (Retired)

In today’s hypercompetitive business environment, regardless of industry, culture or geography, defining effective leadership through a lens of bottom line outcomes is misguided and limiting relative to achieving real impact. Blair and Gesner capture what is critically missing by demonstrating the importance of mission-driven leadership, providing a new value proposition in our thinking of what it means to lead inspirationally and intentionally by institutionalizing one’s life mission in our work.

Matthew Wagner, PhD,
Vice President of Revitalization Programs, Main Street America, Former SC Johnson Global Community Affairs Director and India Fulbright Specialist

Humility. Respect. Reflection. These are among the principles critically important for meaningful public service; but how do they inform a person’s capacity to be a transformational leader? What this book accomplishes in compelling fashion is to demonstrate that if our leadership isn’t grounded in core values that embrace dignity for ourselves and others, then we not only diminish our influence, we diminish humanity as a whole. Lift up yourself, lift up others, read this book.

Thomas Schnaubelt, PhD,
Executive Director and Associate Vice Provost, Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford University

In an eloquent, yet conversational style, this volume inspires the ordinary to cross over into the extraordinary space of ‘power-with’ leadership. Interspersing hypothetical conversations of the world’s greatest leaders of all time with the narratives of living leaders who inspire, the authors provoke the readers into making impactful meaning from their own lives. The volume spurs us to live to touch lives, to walk the talk and to leave a footprint.

Nalini Bikkina, PhD,
Director-in-Charge, Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM) School of Gandhian Studies, and Former Fulbright Academic Excellence Fellow, the University of Nebraska, Omaha

Achieving the changes our world needs will take leadership. But many of us who care about the common good do not see ourselves as leaders. Blair and Gesner invite us to step back, look at our lives and values, and write ourselves a new story in which we rise to the challenges that matter to us. We have never needed this invitation— and their guidance—more than right now. 

Andrew J. Seligsohn, PhD,
President, Campus Compact (USA)

Young entrepreneurs like the ones we support want their work to contribute to society, but they also want to make enough money to create wealth for themselves and their communities. There’s a new generation of leaders like us working to mobilize people, information, resources and capital for the greater good. Applying the lessons in this book can help us achieve the positive influence and impact that we seek.

Que El-Amin,
Co-Founder and CEO, Young Enterprising Society

A thoughtfully crafted resource for personal and professional growth. The authors nailed it in that being a successful leader begins with leading self, first. This book offers relevant examples and stories from real-world leaders and would be a strong supplement to university leadership courses at all levels. Readers will be invited to reflect on their values and behaviors as a means to be in alignment with their authentic self. The book is a reminder that to be successful, we must stay open to learning and unlearning!

Lisa Gies, Ed.D,
Dean, College of Education and Leadership, Cardinal Stritch University

Leadership may take different forms around the world, but at its core, transformational leadership is fundamentally the same and can be implemented effectively across geographic regions, disciplines and cultures. Become inspired, as I was, by the insights offered by this diverse mix of industry leaders; examine their common threads and uncover the positive influence that will encourage healthy growth for yourself and the organizations you serve.

Abdulrhman F. Almotery, ME-PD, PhD,
Director of Academic and Training Affairs, Royal Commission Health Services Program, Saudi Arabia

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ISBN: 9789353287047

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