I was recently qualified for a conference call with several leaders who wanted to learn some additional concepts in community building from LIFE Leadership founder Orrin Woodward. Looking around at those who qualified for the call made me think about what it takes to be an effective leader since none of us are born with any special genius. Several qualities came to light but the one big area that levels the playing surface to be an effective leader is the slight edge. The slight edge is a step – by - step plan to grow in the area of leadership covered in the best selling book, Launching a Leadership Revolution. In that book, the authors describe the tri lateral leadership ledger. An example was given about how a leader expands their influence. A leader takes regular small steps in the areas of study and application. They are constantly working on relationships, task, or character. If you were to grade yourself you could always evaluate your level of influence. If you were to give a grade of 5 in relationships, task, and character the formula would read 5 X 5 X 5 = 125. However if you were to increase the grade by one point, 6 X 6 X 6 + 216 you would nearly double your influence.
In addition to that formula I noticed that in most cases, the people who were thought the most likely to succeed didn’t. However, some of the least likely made significant impact in history because of their leadership. One of the qualities was passion for a purpose. The qualities of passion and purpose were two ingredients that developed the hunger to use the slight edge concept. Hundreds of years ago, those who made a difference because of their leadership used the mediums of association, mentoring, and reading as tools to grow. Today, LIFE Leadership uses those same tools in addition to CD’s and radio apps (Rascal Radio). Throughout history leaders influenced others with their speaking and writing. Today we have the ability to multiply a leader’s thoughts through audios. Two stumbling blocks to leadership influence is to have someone stereotype you into a box where you begin to think only those “gifted” few can lead and to not get distracted (focus) from your passion.
I picked a few historical figures as examples that although they appeared least likely to become a leader because of physical impairments, their ability to focus on their passion made all the difference:
Demosthenes didn’t use his speech impediment as an excuse. He was a hungry student, attending most of the talks given by Plato (Mentor) at the city center. From his hunger to learn and the slight edge principle he became known as one of the most influential men of all Athens from his ability as an orator.
In the 1700’s a very slight of build man with soft - spoken voice would speak from his pulpit. He used a candle most of the time along with his magnifying glass, as his vision was poor. While most people would’ve used it as an excuse for not reaching their potential, Jonathon Edwards was one of the individuals who was a primary character in creating the ‘Great Awakening.’ In addition, he wrote several books and articles that have a high – level of intellectual insight that are still read and respected to this day.
William Wilberforce was known to have colitis and a marked dowager’s hump causing a bent over appearance. His passion and purpose for the abolition of the slave trade in England is what he was known for. He became an expert in community building with the ‘Clapham Sect.’ and mentored closely with the great John Newton. His focus and commitment to his goal came to fruition over a 30 year period as he took advantage of the slight edge and the power of compounding his leadership. It was a formidable task with a worldwide impact, but he never gave up until he won.
While working for his alcoholic father, John Kitto fell 35 feet while carrying slate tiles up a ladder. He was never able to hear again. How many of us would have used these circumstances as a reason not to pursue our passions? Kitto, however used his impairments as a way to become more acute in his sight and observation skills and while traveling to the holy land documented topography, architecture, and agricultural methods to become a significant contributor in Christian scholarship, writing ‘The Complete 8 Volume Set, ‘Daily Bible Illustrations.’ The great minister Charles Spurgeon said of it, “to be more interesting than any novel that was ever written, and as instructive as the heaviest theology.”
Are there any perceived limitations that are keeping you from pursuing your passions or are they opportunities in disguise? Perhaps it’s the power of associating with other over - comer’s that will unleash your potential? Why let society place a limiting label on you? Why not use the slight edge to your advantage, which is the real secret of leadership. Like our predecessors before, you can compound your influence too! The power of association, reading, listening, and mentoring can be used to your advantage. Matthew Henry wrote, “The longer we live the more aware we should be of God’s goodness to us in keeping us alive, his care in prolonging our frail lives.” Is it time for you to use the time you’ve been given and live your purpose? God Bless, George Guzzardo