I love reading. Aside from finding it extremely beneficial from a self-education standpoint, I also find it extremely entertaining. Like a true nerd, there is nothing I enjoy more than being enthralled by a good book.
Every January, I focus my reading efforts on the classics and this past year I tackled Victor Hugo’s amazing novel, Les Miserables.
The story and journey of Jean Valjean was captivating as many of you know. In addition, there were some keen leadership lessons from the book that have stuck with me.
1. Make Action Your Default Behavior
Ali Brown, named “Entrepreneurial guru for Women,” said “You’re often going to find that to step into your biggest opportunity, you’ll be asked to move through your biggest fear or insecurity.”
The wonderful and inspiring boy, Gavroche, says “Believe me, do not undertake that painful profession of an idle man.” (Volume IV, Book Fourth, Chapter II). As sales leaders, we have to be passionately engaged in effective and important activities. Your biggest enemy is white space on your calendar. Even if you’ve blocked out time to think and plan, still make the decision and do it. Do not let time control you. As sales leaders, we’ve got to charge the hill everyday, inspire people everyday, coach people everyday, and earn our title everyday. Success never takes a day off.
I highly recommend planning your day every morning to help stay productive and active. I use the Mastery Journal from Entrepreneurs on Fire and just love it. Others, I know use the Bullet Journal. Regardless of your method, write down your goals and plans daily, which I call personal mapping, into sprints so that you can stay optimally productive.
In the end, you have to make action your default behavior. Idleness is the devil’s playground.
“We often feel paralyzed by choice and make no choice. But the thing is, no choice is a choice. If you’re not doing something about it, you’re doing something about it.”
― Chris Guillebeau
2. Keep Focused On the Long-Term Objectives
“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.”
― Chris Grosser
Marius says to Cossette, “Let us sacrifice one day in order to gain our whole lives, perhaps.”(Volume IV, Book Eighth, Chapter IV). Sales leaders and entrepreneurs understand how to sacrifice in the present to be benefitin the long run. As serial entrepreneur Bubba Page (@bubbapage) taught me, “real success is about what you are willing to give up now to be super successful in the future.” Leaders understand risks, sacrifice, and long-term growth.
3. Your Individual Choices Really Do Matter
As the villainous character, Javert, comes to the end of the story, he is faced with an eternal choice. We read,
“He beheld before him two paths, both equally straight, but he beheld two; and that terrified him; him, who had never in all his life known more than one straight line. And, the poignant anguish lay in this, that the two paths were contrary to each other. One of these straight lines excluded the other. Which of the two was the true one?” (Volume V, Book Fourth, Chapter I)
As leaders, we are faced with choices everyday. Some are simple, black and white, others aren’t. Still, our moral compass and personal values should drive what we know is right to do. I’ve had the privilege of working with many great leaders who’ve shown me the good and bad consequences of choices. Leadership guru Simon Sinek stresses this point is his book Start With Why.
There are many more lessons from Les Miserables, but these few are good enough to close out our year.
The time to lead is now; the day to change is today.