It seems fitting that I finished this book today, on Martin Luther King Day -- a day held in memory and in honor of the man who stepped up, took responsibility for what many believed was impossible change and led the way forward. I have read two of John Izzo's earlier books. I find his books, including this one to be inspirational. He makes me want to be a better human. In this book, Izzo offers "practical advice to anyone who wants to bring about positive change in any area - work, marriage, family, community or world - but isn't sure how to start." To support his recommendations for stepping up, he offers up interesting "little" stepping up stories (e.g. picking up trash) to bigger relationship anecdotes (e.g., marriage) to global stories (e.g. bullying, homeless, environment). Each chapter is followed by "how to" steps. As a result, this book is very readable, engaging and a page turner. I highly recommend it.
This book's premise centers around 2 concepts: the need to take responsibility and the results of what happens when we step up and take action. Izzo states that when we focus on what we can change rather than getting others to change, we move into a place of power. Here are the 12 chapters along with the major takeaways for each chapter:
1) The Five Rows of Responsibility: Pointing to someone else is easy and ultimately means no one does anything...when you catch yourself blaming someone, ask yourself, "In what way am I contributing to the problem?" And ask "what can I do to make things better." If each of us begins where we are and does what we can, anything is possible...choosing to act inspires and challenges others to act...
2) It's Not my Job, It's Not My Fault: Banish victim thinking. Rather than focusing on what has been done to you, ask what you can do with what you have. Choose to focus on what you can control...Challenge fixed mindset thinking. Avoid leading with: "I am not _____" and turn statement around to "With effort I can be more ____.
3) I Am Only One Person: When you are tempted to stay on the sidelines, ask yourself which you will regret more, trying without success or holding back. Assume that others are already acting with you or will act with you. This will spur you on. Focus on important and not trivial matters that will prevent you from achieving your legacy.
4) Only Naive People Change the World: Remind yourself that only naive people ever change things. Challenge assumptions. Disregard the voice in your head saying it won't matter if I step up and take step anyway.
5) 100% Responsibility / No Excuses: What is 100/0? When we take 100% responsibility and give ourselves no excuses for why we can't act to make things different, everything changes. Part of being 100/0 is a willingness to look in the mirror first, instead of looking outside. When we take full responsibility, everything changes. Take responsibility. Don't make excuses. Ask yourself "How else can I get this done?"
6) Do Something...Do Anything: Find one thing and get start immediately in the direction you seek. Find some allies and start to meet and talk about improvements. Don't talk about how other people need to step up. Focus on what you can do. Talk about the future - it is often a powerful precursor to change.
7) Always Begin in the Room You Are In: Focus on what you can do right now to move in the direction of improvement or change.
8) Leadership is Not a Position: State your intention. Punch above your weight or formal position. Go bigger than whatever role says you must do.
9) Stepping Up by Speaking Up: Challenge your colleagues. Be constructive. Stop complaining. Break the silence - speak up for the change you believe in.
10) Who Am I to Step Up: Replace the voice that says "Why me?" with "Why not me?" Take a step you don't think you are qualified to try to change.
11) Creating a Culture Of Stepping Up: Leaders need to invite their teams to sit at the table...Ensure you encourage rather than discourage people to step up. Go overboard in praising effort as well as results.
12) One Person Always Matters. "Life is short, and you don't want to wonder what might have happened if you had stepped up."...This is the time to step up, right now. It may not matter if you do so, but you won't ever know if you don't.
Here are my favorite passages:
"It is true that if we step up there is no guarantee that things will change...but here is the truth: There is 100% guarantee that nothing will change if you don't step up. What's more, we are much more likely to regret having staying on the sidelines than we are to regret our failures...People rarely regret failures but often regret not trying."
"Busyness is often the greatest barrier...it is easy to let trivial matters fill our calendars and days rather than focusing on making a difference...What have you been meaning to step up to do that keeps getting sidelined by the deceptively urgent and ultimately trivial?"
"Whenever we focus on what others needs to do, we give away our power and let ourselves off the hook...this gets to the heart of the challenge. It does not matter what anyone else is or is not doing; the place to begin is always right here and right now. This tendency to think that others, instead of us, need to change is both insidious and disempowering....whether trying to change our family, our company, or the world, we are powerful only when we focus on what WE can do.
"...we all have a voice inside of us that says we can't step up. It tells us we are not good enough, that we are going to screw this up, a voice that says how foolish we will look if we fail. There is another voice alongside it that says you can do it and that you want to do it...We have to be aware of the voice in our head that is keeping us prisoner...we can accomplish so much more than we think we can if we are willing to word hard and be as creative as we can be."
"...I AM IT. I CAN CHANGE THINGS. IF NOT ME TO STEP UP, THEN WHO? IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?"