“Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t” by Simon Sinek: Part Two

  1. Oxytocin in the chemical that helps direct how vulnerable we can afford to make ourselves.
  2. My favorite definition of love is giving someone the power to destroy us and trusting they won’t use it.
  3. Simply seeing or hearing about acts of human generosity actually inspires us to want to do the same.
  4. Physical contact demonstrates a sign of our willingness to trust.
  5. Leaders are the ones willing to look out for those to the left of them and those to the right of them. They are often willing to sacrifice their own comfort for ours, even when they disagree with use. Trust is not simply a matter of shared opinions. Trust is a biological reaction to the belief that someone has our well-being at heart. Leaders are the ones willing to give us something of their own for us. Their time, their energy, their money, maybe even the food off their plate. When it matters, leaders choose to eat last.
  6. The selfish chemicals, endorphins, and dopamine, give us short-term rewards to which we can, under the right conditions, become addicted. The selfless chemicals, serotonin and oxytocin, take time to build up in our systems before we can enjoy their full benefits.
  7. We cannot motivate others, per se. Our motivation is determined by the chemical incentives inside every one of us. Any motivation we have is a function of our desire to repeat behaviors that make us feel good or avoid stress or pain.
  8. The problem now is that we have produced an abundance of nearly everything we need or want. And we don’t do well with abundance. It can short-circuit our systems and actually do damage to us and to our organizations. Abundance can be destructive not because it is bad for us, per se. Abundance can be destructive because it abstracts the value of things.
  9. There is no such thing as virtual trust.
  10. In a Marine platoon of about forty people, for example, they will often refer to the officer as “our” lieutenant. Whereas the more distant and less seen officer is simply “the” colonel. When this sense of mutual ownership between leader and those being led starts to break down, when informality is replaced by formality, it is a sure sign the group may be getting too big to lead effectively.
  11. As social animals, it is imperative for us to see the actual, tangible impact of our time and effort for our work to have meaning and for us to be motivated to do it even better.
  12. Time and effort have an absolute value. No matter how rich or poor someone is, or where or when they are born, we all have 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. If someone is willing to give us something of which they have a fixed and finite amount, a completely nonredeemable commodity, we perceive greater value.
  13. Think to yourself, “I will never get this time back.”
  14. You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
  15. Hearing one person’s solution to a problem can inform someone else how to solve a problem of their own. Isn’t this the idea of learning—to pass on our knowledge to others?
  16. We work to advance the vision of a leader who inspires us and we work to undermine the dictator who means to control us.
  17. It is a leader’s job instead to take responsibility for the success of each member of his crew. It is the leader’s job to ensure that they are well trained and feel confident to perform their duties. To give them responsibility and hold them accountable to advance the mission.
  18. Captain Marquet explains, “Leaders are to provide direction and intent and allow others to figure out what to do and how to get there. We train people to comply, not to think.” If people only comply, we can’t expect people to take responsibility for their actions. The chain of command is for orders, not information. Responsibility is not doing as we are told, that’s obedience. Responsibility is doing what is right.
  19. Integrity is not about being honest when we agree with each other; it is also about being honest when we disagree or, even more important, when we make mistakes or missteps.
  20. As the Zen Buddhist saying goes, how you do anything is how you do everything.
  21. Generation Y thinks that, because they have grown up with all these technologies, they are better at multitasking. I would venture to argue they are not better at multitasking. What they are better at is being distracted.
  22. This “see it and get it” generation has an awareness of where they are standing and they know where they want to get to; what they can’t seem to understand is the journey, the very time-consuming journey. They seem flummoxed when told that things take time. They are happy to give lots of short bursts of energy and effort to things, but commitment and grit come harder.
  23. There is so much talk about awareness or “driving the conversation” that we’ve failed to notice that talk doesn’t solve problems; the investment of time and energy by real human beings does.
  24. Limitations of the Internet: An amazing vehicle for spreading information, the Web is great for making people aware of the plight of others, but it is quite limited in its ability to alleviate that plight. The plight of others is not a technology problem; it’s a human one. And only humans can solve human problems.
  25. It is not when things come easily that we appreciate them, but when we have to work hard for them or when they are hard to get that those things have greater value to us.
  26. But we already know that growth is an abstract and non-specific destination that doesn’t ignite the human spirit. What ignites the human spirit is when the leaders of our organizations offer us a reason to grow.
  27. To really inspire us, we need a challenge that outsizes the resources available. We need a vision of the world that does not yet exist. A reason to come to work. Not just a big goal to achieve. This is what leaders of great organizations do. They frame the challenge in terms so daunting that literally no one yet knows what to do or how to solve it.
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