If you’re reading this newsletter, you probably have a leadership role in some organization – you own your business, you’re a top leader in someone else’s business, or you lead a non-profit. And chances are, you’ve been a leader ever since you can remember. You’re the person who always got asked to take on the presidency of a school or community organization, you were a top athlete, you were tapped to start some new initiative in the workplace.

And gosh, that feels good, doesn’t it? People trust you, count on you, recognize your capabilities, and at the end of the day you really like that feeling of moving through life making a good contribution – leaving things better than you found them.

Of course, there are the hard moments too. The project that just won’t come together on time and on budget. People who let you down, people you counted on to make the journey with you. If you’re an entrepreneur, sometimes you wonder how in the world you’re going to make that next payroll. But in the end, you usually figure it out – and that success means you get asked to move up to the next big role, or take your company to a scary new level of investment, sales and profitability.

There are two kinds of leaders – those who can keep going on the success journey, and those who get stuck in what I call The Leadership Trap.

Effective leaders know three things about continuing to succeed:

  • when to say no

  • when to get help

  • how to develop other people to do more, so everyone can move on to the next big thing.

If you think you might be stuck in The Leadership Trap, ask yourself some hard questions:

Do you hate to hand off challenging work because no one can do it as well as you?

Are you consistently being asked to take on more because there’s no bench in the organization?

Do you almost always resist investing in excellent talent ahead of the payoff? Only to find yourself out of capacity when the new initiative starts to take off?

This is a great time of year to take inventory of how you’re spending your time. What great opportunity are you missing out on because you’re totally preoccupied keeping up with what’s on your plate right now? Great leaders are always looking at the next big idea, figuring out who else in the organization is ready to take on more, so they can devote their own energy and thought to moving to the next level.

A friend once said to me, “Jean, why are we always so restless?” My answer was, because we’re seekers. And seekers are only satisfied with the status quo long enough to celebrate getting there. After that, there’s another bigger mountain to climb.

If you truly want to find your brilliance and become the best version of yourself, first ask yourself what you can STOP DOING! Either it doesn’t need to be done at all, or someone else can do it, or there’s some kind of technology that will do it for you.

Once you’ve taken something off your plate, ask yourself what you’d really like to do if you weren’t scared to try it. And then try that idea out on people who care about you. You may be surprised at what other people think you can do – they see that part of you that’s bold and determined, not that voice in your head that says, But what if I fail?

It’s the beginning of a great new year! What great new thing will you start this year?


You’re only given a little spark of madness – you mustn’t lose it.

– Robin Williams