Take Command: Lessons in Leadership: How to Be a First Responder in Business is truly a leadership book for everyone, whether you’re a corporate executive, sports coach or school volunteer. Jake Wood has turned his military experience into everyday advice that inspires us to search within ourselves and those around us for the leadership skills we all have inside.
As Jake says, “High-stakes leadership … is about seeing clearly when others are blinded by fear.” I learned this firsthand last May when a fast-moving fire spread throughout my seaside community in North San Diego.
As I left school after a volunteer tea on May 14, 2014, I saw smoke rising high into the otherwise clear blue sky. If you’ve lived in San Diego long enough, you’ve heard this mantra: “Fire doesn’t jump the highway.” Sure enough, reports that a fire east of my Gigi’s school would be held at bay by El Camino Real started to come in.
But instead of listening to what others were saying, I did what Jake suggests: I listened to every viewpoint, including my own, then I made the call and owned it. I instantly pulled Gigi out of school and raced home, ahead of the fire and the panic that I heard enveloped the school just hours later.
At home, I panicked, I’m not going to lie. Faced with a house full of valuables and memories, what did I need to take with me? And more importantly, what did Gigi need to feel safe and secure if the worst happened to our home?
Turned out, instinct kicked in, and not just for me. I told Gigi to pack what she needed and said she could only take one bag. Within minutes she appeared in my office, calm, cool and collected, ready to go with just a few things and a simple request: to bring her fish with us.
Here Jake might say, “Have the clarity of mind and purpose when chaos is all around you.” Indeed, out in the front yard smoke was growing closer and a neighbor’s dog had escaped while I was packing the car with financial records, a hard drive, overnight clothes and the dogs (plus the fish). Instead of leaving the dog to her own devices, I “delivered in a clutch” and quickly found her owner, relying on Gigi’s cool head to finish loading the car.
Our turn-around time was less than an hour, and it took another 30 minutes until we reached the relative calm of the freeway. It was like falling through the rabbit hole: behind us, cars fought to reach the freeway; but the freeway, the 5, was unseasonably empty, flowing as if nothing was amiss just miles inland.
Most of us will never face fires in our community, let alone gunfire on a battlefield. But whether you’re a mother racing to get her child out of harm’s way or an entrepreneur fighting for your place in today’s competitive marketplace, being a leader is essential.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is this: “Leading your life instead of managing it is a choice, and with that choice come both rewards and consequences.” We make decisions every day, but owning those decisions is what makes leaders instead of managers.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links meaning I may receive compensation if you use those links. I received a complimentary copy of Take Command: Lessons in Leadership: How to Be a First Responder in Business from Blogging with Books for review; all opinions are my own.