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The Leadership Contract, 2nd Edition by Vince Molinaro

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Chapter 1My Personal Leadership Story

Great leaders aren't born; they are made—made and shaped by their experiences. Gandhi's mother was very religious and influenced by Jainism, a religion founded on the idea of nonviolence toward all creatures. A village schoolteacher refused to teach a young Susan B. Anthony long division because she was a girl. Margaret Thatcher gained experience weathering criticism when, as education minister in the early 1970s, budget cuts earned her the nickname “milk snatcher.” When Richard Branson was about seven years old, his mother, Eve, left him 3 miles away from his home on the way back from school so he would be forced to figure out how to get home on his own. She did it to help him overcome his crippling shyness. It took him 10 hours, but he did it; and it helped him become the person and the leader he is today.

Like Gandhi, Anthony, Thatcher, and Branson, every leader has a story. But most leaders aren't fully aware of how their experiences have shaped them to be the leaders they are now. I believe it's crucial for leaders to take time to think about their history and their own personal leadership story.

Take a moment to think of the key experiences that have shaped you as a leader. I hope some stories are already coming to mind for you. Some will be stories of peak experiences when you had a significant impact, when you were at your best. Others will be more negative—moments when you struggled and your personal resolve was tested. Reflecting ...

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