The Promise of a Pencil | Book Review

“True self-discovery begins where your comfort zone ends, and mine was about to end far more quickly than I’d anticipated.”

Is the last sentence of Mantra 2, page 20, from Adam Braun’s The Promise of a Pencil, and a summary statement for his motivating journey. A personal and inspiring book, Braun’s story reminds us that following our sense of purpose and passion will fulfill anyone in a leadership capacity. Organized into thirty Mantras, or brief chapters, a selection of favorites comprise this book review:

Mantra 10 Practice Humility over Hubris

p. 91 “He put me in my place when it was necessary. We learn far more from our mistakes than we do from our successes…” reminding us of our continuous need for feedback as a leader.

Mantra 11 Speak the Language of the Person [Leader] you Want to Become

p. 101 “The more we speak in the voice of our most aspirational self, the closer we pull our future into our present.”  Apt guidance for development of our Leader’s Compass.

Mantra 12 Walk With a Purpose

p. 108 “We are more often bystanders to conflict than we are victims or perpetrators, and with that comes the recognition that we have a moral obligation to defend others, even when the crosshairs of injustice aren’t pointed at us personally.” A reminder most of us are conflict avoiders and must choose to Do The Right Thing.

Mantra 13 Happiness is Found in Celebrating [Leading] Others

p. 114 “It was only by focusing on creating joy in her life that I discovered the greatest feelings of happiness in my own.” The ultimate demonstration of effective communications and the Platinum Rule.

Mantra 14 Find the Impossible Ones

p. 116 “What do you love doing most?” A great approach for completing a Motivational Needs form.

Mantra 17 Create Separation to Build Connection

p. 146 “How many times have I missed an incredible connection that could have been made because I had my face in my phone instead of paying attention to those around me?” A wonderful reminder that active listening exposes many opportunities.

Mantra 19 Stay Guided by Your Values, not your Necessities

p. 160 “In those moments when priorities clash, always stay guided by your values, not your perceived necessities. Necessities exist in a state of mind that will not last, whereas values are transcendent and enduring.” Another reminder that alignment of a Leadership Philosophy with High Payoff Activities (HPAs) leads to personal growth.

Mantra 22 Fess up to Your Failures

p. 184 “Errors force you to pause, evaluate, and iterate. As much as we dread them, they are veiled blessings that turn mirrors of reflection into windows of insight.” After Action Reports and feedback always help us learn and grow as leaders.

Mantra 24 Change your Words to Change your Worth

- buy the book just for this chapter -

p. 195+ “While I once thought the best measure of accomplishment was monetary wealth, my path over the past few years had shown me that real value comes from investing in the well-being of others.” Further validation of Dan Pink’s motivational findings, and a powerful look at corporate mission and purpose.

Mantra 27 Vulnerability is Vital

p. 221 “How many times do have thirty things to do and you focus on the twenty-five that matter least?” Continuous focus on HPAs is a necessary discipline.

Additional Material

Hidden URL (subscribe to unlock the website)

A very good book to buy and read, and an even better book to give to our children.

JE | May 2014