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Leadership Alive: A Lesson, A Book Review, and A Challenge

By Tiffany Monhollon

Chuck had reached a point many bloggers reach. He was ready for something new. So, Chuck took a step and launched a new blog despite people who say starting a new blog is a mistake. He ignored the noise and pressed on, determined not just to duplicate but to shatter his former success.

One day, Chuck had a big idea. His idea, borne, I’m sure, partly out of his own experiences, aimed to help other bloggers who’d been where he’d been: Bloggers who were writing great content but had few readers. He knew there were thousands, millions, of people out there who needed a solution to this problem. I can tell you one thing: Chuck’s not the only one who’s ever identified this problem. He’s probably not the only one who ever had an idea of how to solve it.

But Chuck did what most people never do. He didn’t just see a problem and come up with a solution.

He moved past the fear and did something about it.

We Need Chuck to Lead Us

Chuck Westbrook’s story is a great one, undoubtedly. In fact, it’s unfolding right as we speak. It’s exciting to be a part of a movement like this. The motion it creates is undeniably exciting. The potential is extreme. He has the ability to touch so many lives, to help so many people. It’s incredible. It’s inspiration. It’s real.

What’s even more amazing is that this story isn’t about Chuck promoting Chuck, or his blog, or his ideas. Even though he’s happened to have done a brilliant job at that as he went along.

No, what Chuck has done is what all great leaders do. He has lived out, whether he knew it or not, one of my favorite passages of a new book I love, that says this: “Leaders who set out to give are more productive than leaders who seek to get.”

In case you haven’t read it yet, the book I’m quoting here is none other than marketing guru Seth Godin’s new book about leadership, Tribes. I could write a book-long review of Tribes and post it here for you to devour. I’ve already reviewed it for my company’s newsletter that will go out to about a quarter of a million business people. I hope they all buy a copy of this book and love it. I hope it challenges, too, in a deep and meaningful way. Because it’s a masterful work not just about breaking through normal or pushing past the status quo, but about the pure empowerment that each of us has in our current world to really create change.

A Challenge. Make that Two.

Which all leads me back to Chuck. Chuck is exactly the kind of leader that Godin describes in Tribes. He’s someone. Just like you. Like me. Just a guy who happens to have great ideas and great relationships. But who also has the ability to overcome the fear and take the lead.

In a matter of mere days, Chuck has created a tribe. How he did it is fascinating. Ideas and relationships. (And letting go of the fear.) That’s all it takes, and look, you get this huge tribe of people, all motivated around one idea. All committed to one type of change.

So, about these challenges. My first challenge is to go get a copy of Tribes for yourself, and to read it. Don’t sit around waiting for a good time, don’t wait for someone to give you a copy, just pick it up and read it. Don’t worry, it’s a quick enough read you might just have time to read it twice tomorrow. And you might just want to.

My second challenge is to head on over to Chuck’s blog and join his tribe. You will undoubtedly learn a lot from what he has going on there and from the blogs he’s going to showcase. But if you watch closely, you will learn something more.

If you watch Chuck, you will see authentic leadership in action. The real thing. Alive and well and working. Right now. Today.

Okay, so it turns out there’s a third challenge, too. Here’s what it is: Take all this to the next level. Read Tribes, check out Chuck, and then do something. Do what most people never do. Let go of the fear that’s holding you back from the leadership you have the potential for. And then answer this question:

Who will you lead?

Wanna talk Tribes, Chuck, or anything else this post inspires? Head on over to the comments section. I’ll be there. Still want more? Keep up with me on Twitter or subscribe to this blog to get free updates. 

By Tiffany Monhollon | October 30, 2008

Topics: Blogging, Followship, Leadership, Learning |

9 Responses to “Leadership Alive: A Lesson, A Book Review, and A Challenge”

  1. Ari Koinuma Says:
    November 1st, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Hi Tiffany,

    …and I’m visiting you from Chuck’s blog. I still don’t know who Chuck is, actually. But his idea has gone viral.

    Around the same time, I was also hanging out at my Business Coach Tom Vokar’s site about his community. Now, his idea didn’t go exactly “viral” although it was well-received and produced good results.

    The thing is, ideas, it’s hard to tell how good it is. Some go viral but many don’t. But you won’t find out until you try.

    So, in the end, perhaps it’s about machinegun approach. The one who shoots more often, has a chance of hitting the target? It takes some real imagination to be a constant idea generator. But it’s not good enough just to have ideas. You have to unleash them.


  2. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    November 1st, 2008 at 8:19 am

    @ Ari - It’s interesting that you bring up the idea of an idea going viral. To your question as to why some ideas go viral and others don’t, to me, the answer is pretty simple. Ideas are great. Lots of people have great ideas all the time. What makes them go viral in social media is relationships.

    Ideas spread through people sharing ideas with other people. Sometimes, whether or not something goes viral or not is about how good the idea is. Sometimes, it’s about who it gets shared with, and who they know, and who they share it with.

    In Chuck’s instance, two really important people shared his idea with everyone they influence. And in a matter of merely minutes, the thing had gone viral. If it hadn’t been a great idea, those two people wouldn’t have shared it. So the quality of ideas and the quality of relationships is critical.

    But to me, that’s how I see it.

  3. Mark W. Says:
    November 1st, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Hi Tiffany,

    Thanks for the heads up on this idea from Chuck. Previous to this post of yours I didn’t know who he was or anything about him. However, since reading his blog regarding this latest idea he is in the process of implementing, I have a feeling that he is the type of person who will be able to make this idea of his a success. I think it’s a great idea. I also think the potential for ‘failure’ is just about the same as it is for success. Having said that, the greater failure would be not trying out this idea at all.
    I plan to follow the progress and implementation of his plan with much interest. As a follower I will be thinking of your 7/9/08 post on followers and what makes a good follower. The interesting thing about the followers of this idea from Chuck is that most of them are leaders. I will say this - I think Chuck has good timing on this plan of his as we’re just heading into the indoors for winter!


  4. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    November 1st, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    @ Mark -
    It’s true that sometimes the potential for success is as same as the potential for failure. Probably with most ideas, this is the case. Which is why leadership is so critical, and also why most people never get past the fear (that the idea will fail, and therefore they will fail) to go for it and just lead. This is a really important point that the book Tribes makes. There are so many good ideas, and just not enough leaders to push past the obstacles that all leaders face to inspire change making.

    But tribes in and of themselves are powerful because they are created of passionate people - as you mentioned, followers are critical to the success of leaders - and passionate people are the ones who create change.

  5. John Lacey Says:
    November 2nd, 2008 at 3:32 am

    I severely doubt ‘fear’ was a consideration in Chuck Westbrook’s plan. He tapped into a general sentiment of people feeling unappreciated and used it as the basis to send more readers to blogs… starting, somewhat unimaginatively, with his own.

  6. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    November 2nd, 2008 at 9:10 am

    @John - There are lots of types of fear - even mere self doubt can be enough to keep most people from claiming a leadership role. My point is that in Tribes, Godin makes a pretty great case that we all have access to opportunities to lead - maybe just a few people - maybe a lot of people - but so many people never move, never act, never lead. Sure, Chuck’s idea sent people to his blog - that’s fine; people deserve credit and recognition for their ideas. Whether it was imaginative or not isn’t really the point. That may be your judgment, and that’s ok.

    The point was, he had an idea, he did something with it, it resonated, and now he has a group of people who want to belong to his tribe.

    My point is, we can see authentic leadership happening in the world around us, and we can allow that to inspire us to lead, too.

  7. cat Says:
    November 3rd, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Chuck is good and clever man it would be better if more people were like him

  8. Armen Shirvanian Says:
    November 7th, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Bringing good content to the forefront has been a common theme since the first time when low-quality content was manipulated high up into the ranks of an information-spreading engine. The concept brought up here is a step in that direction, and although it is prone to manipulation at a later stage, it is quite appealing at this time.

  9. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    November 25th, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    @ Armen - It seems like a relational approach to highlighting great content works really well. When you know and trust the person reccomending the content, then you know it’s not to serve some agenda and the risks of manipulation aren’t as great. That’s one reason this idea really resonates with me.