5 Leadership Words That My Father Taught Me – by Ken Gosnell

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11

A friend of mine from work sent me this excellent blog about leadership.  Though written from a business perspective, I think these same guideline are excellent wisdom for the purpose of living a godly – life well defined..

Reblogged from Ken Gosnell, C12 GROUP


I grew up in the midwest. My father never graduated high school because my grandfather was unexpectedly killed by a drunk driver when my father was fifteen years old. My father quit school to go to work to help provide for his mother and his brothers and sisters. In spite of the difficulty of my father’s situation in life and although he never received a degree my father never quit learning.

I remember growing up watching my father go to work. He never left the house without two things. The first was his hardhat. This often reminded me that the work that my father did to provide for his family was difficult and hard. The second was a book. One day I asked my father why he took a book to work when he would be doing hard labor every day. He looked and me and smiled.

He said, “I read during my breaks. I always want to get better.”
That day and my father’s life shaped much of who I am today. My father by far is the wisest man that I know. Recently, I have been thinking about a few words that my father taught me about life and leadership that I don’t hear mentioned any more. However, I believe every leader would be better if they had these words in their leadership vocabulary.

These words are the words of leadership that every CEO and business leader needs to know and practice.


My father would often tell me that nothing good in life happens without gumption. Gumption is that ability to find your inner drive. It is that spirit inside each of us that motivates us to get things done. It is the initiative to do something even when others tell us that it can’t be done. We need more leaders with gumption today!

Key Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your level of leadership gumption?


This is a term that describes a leader’s toughness. My father was tough and I respected him because he did not let the setbacks of his life determine the outcome of his life. He overcame the difficulties of life to create a wonderful home for my family. Every leader needs a little grit.

Take a Grit Test:

The University of Pennsylvania has released a grit survey. I would encourage every reader to take the survey and to have the key leaders of their organization take it as well. Combine the numbers and find out how much grit you have as an organization. You can take the survey here. According to the survey my grit score is: 4.75 and I am grittier than at least 90% of the US population. I think my father would be proud of my grit score and that makes me happy.

Key Question: Are you proud of your grit score?


My father would often tell me to quit lollygagging around. He would remind me that the wise leader does not waste time. They move with a sense of urgency and importance. One key Achilles Heel of an organization is a lollygagging leader. That is a leader who has no purpose or is slow in making key decisions that will benefit and shape the direction of the organization.

Key Question: What decision or action are you currently lollygagging on?


My father would remind me that it is a good thing to remain a little peckish. Peckish means to be a little hungry. My father would say that a little hunger in the belly was a good thing because it would remind us why we work and that we had something better waiting for us that night. The world needs leaders who are hungry to build great businesses. True leaders are not complacent with their success but reach for higher goals and purposes.

Key Question: What goals can you set for yourself that will remind you to stay hungry?


In the midwest we would often talk about pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. My father would often remind me that every person has a set of bootstraps and needs to use them. I personally have never seen bootstraps, but the advice of my father has paid dividends through the years. When I have found myself in difficult situations, I have reminded myself of my bootstraps and how I need to pull myself up by them. Every leader needs to remember their set of bootstraps. We face hard times in business and during those difficult times the leader needs to remind their people of the importance of their bootstraps.

Key Question: In what area do you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps today?

These are five words that my father taught me not just with his voice, but by his life. I am grateful that these words have been a part of my leadership vocabulary. Every leader and every organization should know these words and put them into practice.


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