The Ten Letter Word that Will Drive Change in Yourself, Team, and Community

I am blogging from Atlanta, Georgia at the 2014 Catalyst Conference. I have the honor of joining the Catalyst Blogger Team and, I’m publishing live notes and key insights on the speaker sessions. Speaker lineups include, Andy Stanley, Tim Keller, Christine Caine, Matt Chandler, Charles Duhigg and many more. I hope these insights will empower you to rise to the top.

About the Speaker: Jon Gordon‘s best-selling books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His principles have been put to the test by numerous NFL and NBA, college coaches and teams, Fortune 500 companies, school districts, hospitals and non-profits. He is the author of The Wall Street Journal bestseller The Energy Bus, The Non Complaining Rule, The Positive Dog and his latest The Carpenter.



So much of leadership is about running. We just run and don’t’ give up. Leadership is not a marathon or a sprint. It’s a marathon combined with a boxing match. We need to lead with optimism and hope.

The ten letter word: POSITIVITY

The first book I wrote was The Energy Bus was written in a very difficult season in life. Through divine inspiration, I wrote the book in the three and half weeks but it was rejected for 30 times by publishers. I didn’t want to give up and I didn’t. It ended up becoming the best seller in Korea.

Optimism is a competitive advantage. Positivity is a game changer in our ministries. The greatest thing a leader can say is “We will not allow negativity to sabotage our team.” It starts with us as leaders. As Christians we need to be the most positive person on the planet.

I had a chance to talk to the man who was the only person to complete six Double Ironman Triathlons. The last time he did was 59 years old. He shared the secret to his success was. He said, I have learned to talk to myself than to listen to myself. When I listen to myself, I hear all the fear and doubts. When I talk to myself I can control the language I put in my thoughts.” He would memorize and recite Scripture as he would run the double iron man.

Let me share with you the three greatest leadership strategies of all:

1) Love

The foundation to every relationship is love. Good leaders share a good vision. Great leaders develop relationships to develop and execute a vision. Ken Blanchard helped me understand this concept. After a hard day, I came home and my wife asked me to massage her back. I thought I was the one needing the massage. I called Ken and he said do the massage because someone else will. I learned this important lesson. The more I love my wife, the more I love my life.

Three C’s to put love into practice as leaders.

  • Communication – the ability to communicate with loved ones is essential. It generates trust which leads and commitment. The enemy of great communication busyness and stress. We all know that communication is important but because of our busyness and stress we don’t do it well. We got to slow down to build relationships, build trust, and build great teams.
  • Connection – we need to develop the ability to better connect with others. I have the chance to talk with American college basketball coach Billy Donovan. He really zeroed in on connection. Team beats talent when talent isn’t a team. This is why the team has ended up the top four. 
  • Committed– leadership is ultimately about sacrifice. We ultimately know what it means to love through sacrifice. It is the bedrock of generating trust.

2) Serve

We love and we serve. We serve because we love. God was telling me to serve others. He was telling me to serve at home. I met a TV executive at the plane, and she told me she never heard of my book and my job and said I needed to be a household name. I replied, “I want to be a big name in my household.” You’re leading the team for a reason. You’re meant to grow as a leader. At the end of the day, I saw  glimpse of what it meant to serve as Jesus served.

3) Care

I believe in our caring we stand out as Christians. When we care more, we help others become more. When we care, we serve and sacrifice. We love and worship Jesus because he sacrificed for us. Great leaders don’t succeed because they’re great, they succeed because they serve others to be great.  I believe all of us can come up with a caring trademark. Jesus’ trademark is washing feet, the cross, healing, performing miracles. I believe we can develop our own caring trademark. Great companies have great caring trademark as well. Chick-fil-A says “My pleasure.”  They didn’t say “No Problem.”

Is caring really a leadership strategy? Yes, implement the 1% rule. With little more time, energy, focus, and care, ultimately produces big results.