Big Bro – Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn


Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose Learn

I am currently reading John Maxwell’s new book, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn.  I started to reflect on times in my life where I had failed and what I learned from those experiences.  It feels as though I could write a book on the subject, but the first thing that popped into my head was my leadership as an older sibling.  It’s very disappointing to think about, but this epic failure has shaped my beliefs today.  I lost at the “brother of the year” award, but what did I learn?

1. Influence

“The True Measure of Leadership is Influence, Nothing more, Nothing less” – John C. Maxwell

My leadership as an older sibling was solely based on my position.  What was my title?  Biggest Sibling.  Why did they follow my orders?  Fear.   My leadership was, “Do it or else you are going to hurt.”  As an older sibling, you have an opportunity to make a significant difference in the life of your younger siblings.  A relationship that shouldn’t be based on fear.  What I have learned?  It is important to lead through influence and become an exceptional leader.  Become a leader that siblings want to follow instead of one they have to follow.  Most importantly, to be a leader who develops other leaders—not, a leader that just enables followers.

2. Listen

Listen, Listen, Listen!  I don’t think I listened to my siblings once.  I had no idea what their desires were.  I was too busy telling them “what” to like instead of listening to them and finding out what it was they liked.   I had a “my way or the highway” attitude and nothing else mattered.  What I have learned?  Success = doing your best.  Doing your best = improving.  Improving = listening.  To be a good leader and individual, you must listen.  Remember, there is a difference between listening and not talking.

3. Empathy

To be a great leader you have to have empathy.  Instead, of “do unto others as you would have them to do to you”, it should be “do unto others as they’d like done unto them.”  I may enjoy public praise and they may want a private “thank you.”  I may be motivated by someone yelling at me–and they may just need a pat on the back.  How would I feel if I were them and how would I feel if I were in their shoes?  Obviously, you will never be able to truly walk in their shoes. But with careful listening, comes the ability to understand how they feel.

4. Positive!

“Don’t do this”, “don’t do that.”  No, No, No, No.  As an older bro, I was good at telling you what you shouldn’t do.  What did I learn?  The importance in telling people what you want them to do, instead of focusing on what you don’t want them to do.  It’s very hard, and I fail at it everyday.  But on a good day…… I try to encourage the desired result instead of focusing on what shouldn’t be done.  What if they mess up?  What if I mess up?  Simple…..”next time I will succeed.  And next time YOU will succeed.”   A simple “you will do great” instead of a sharp “don’t mess up” completely changes the perspective and motivation.  And if they mess up?  “Next time you will get it” instead of “I told you would stink it up.”  A completely different way in reaching someone.

5. Add Value

Today, who will you add value to?  Today, who did I add value to?  Easy enough?  Yeah, right.  The challenge is how often do we feel like it actually matters.  How often do you say– “this is a waste of my time, no one is listening anyway”?  My siblings were clearly not interested in anything I would have said, even if I had decided to be positive and teach them.  Or would they have been?  It is hard to teach uncoachable individuals.  But think back for a minute to some of your most precious learning moments from your childhood.  A teacher you blew off but now you appreciate the wisdom they gave you. The college class you thought was worthless and now you rely upon what you learned in that exact class.  Or the coach who made you furious, but taught you some of  life’s greatest lessons.  We impact more than we think.  It may be years before you see the impact you’ve had.  Or you may not even be alive to realize your role in influencing someone else. (how often does someone pass away and we say….”I wish I would have told them?)  Coach, teach, and add value everyday even if it seems like a lost cause.  If you are truly in it for them, then it won’t matter if you are around to hear it.  I’ve missed so many teachable moments in my life because I didn’t think it mattered.

What did I learn?  Every day be a better leader than I was yesterday— and don’t punch your siblings—unless they don’t do what you tell them to (just kidding).

Please don’t forward this to my sister.  I don’t want to ruin my reputation.  She might start to think I like her.  🙂

All Best and Much Success,


Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn