What do Fred Smith, Bill Gates and Walt Disney have in common? If you guessed they were great leaders, you guessed right. They are/were great leaders for so many reasons, but today I want to share the top two things great leaders DON’T do that makes them great leaders.
Fred Smith, founder of FedEx, received a nearly failing grade on his idea to start a parcel service who could deliver a package overnight in an economics class he was taking at Yale University. Bill Gates was a college drop out when he created Microsoft. Finally, Walt Disney was fired from a job for his lack of imagination and original ideas. All three of these gentlemen went on to start their own companies. Companies that are still successful and growing strong today. Can you imagine what would have happened if they allowed their past to keep them from pushing forward?
Fred Smith, in addition to founding Fed Ex, also co-owns several production companies as well as the NFL team the Washington Redskins. Bill Gates never let success go to his head. In addition to the success of Microsoft, Bill Gates has created a foundation with his wife Melinda. Its’ main objective is to support projects centered around education and health care. He could of simply gone on and enjoyed his success and status as one of the wealthiest people alive but that just wasn’t good enough for him.
He wanted to impact more than just the company he originally founded and is now one of the most philanthropic men in the world. And finally, let’s look at Walt Disney. While there are many examples of Mr. Disney’s continued success through movies, theme parks, etc. one thing I could not find while researching him was a time where he ever stopped looking for success. He was constantly looking at new ways to create excitement for kids of all ages up until his quick and untimely death in 1966.
Their stories are known to us because they have the audience of the public. But great leadership doesn’t just happen at the top. Some great leaders are middle managers making a difference in the lives of their sales teams. Some great leaders are stay at home mom’s making a difference in the lives of their children – our future generation.
It doesn’t matter what or who you lead.
What matters is that you lead by being free from past failures and free from the burden of having to repeat past successes.
What matters is that you wake up each day knowing that today truly is the only thing guaranteed and if you promise to be the very best you can be – today – then anyone you have the blessing to lead will be better of because of you.