8 Lessons In Military Leadership

Author: Robert Kiyosaki


Most people will never experience the harsh reality of war and preparation for war. People who are able to operate in high-stakes situations where it's a matter of life and death have enormous discipline, willpower, and grit. All this is needed to succeed in business. This book offers enormous value and gems of wisdom you can't find anywhere else.

Book summary

  1. The truest test of how good you’re as a leader is to disappear and then evaluate how your team performs in your absence.

  2. Good leaders put other people first, they prepare collectively and privately to have the best possible results under the worst circumstances

  3. The never-ending cycle of success is: Education > training > evaluation > training > execution > education

  4. Life is not a popularity content – get the job done. But just focusing on getting the job done doesn’t mean success. You need to have vision, grit, and adaptability to succeed in today’s environment

  5. Lead by example – this must never change

  6. Those who quit never succeed.

  7. Ongoing education is essential for success.

  8. Outstanding leadership is not about you, but about the morals and ethics you have.

  9. Many people lack honor and a code of conduct in the business world – don’t be like this.

  10. Face your fears every day. Don’t hope and pray for things to go right, force yourself to face fears

  11. Don’t let emotions ruin your life, don’t hide from your fears, face them.

  12. Don’t be entitled.

  13. Most people fail in business.

9 out of 10 businesses fail in the first 5 yrs. In the surviving 10%, 9 of out 10 will fail in the next 5 yrs. Why?

It’s not about funding, it’s about keeping going, innovating, in face of hardship. It’s about lacking guts and perseverance.

They lack the training and strength to withstand the rigors and trials and tribulations of business.

  1. In the military, people have the attitude like: “stand up, get off your butt, stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop pouting, stop sucking your thumb, your mama is ashamed of you because your mama is tougher than you are”. Most business owners don’t have this mindset – to simply get the job done and do what’s necessary, and thus they fail

  2. Being successful is not about having funding or not, it’s about grit and guts to keep going. In the army, they train you to do the impossible. But graduates today are trained to find a job.

  3. The current education system trains people to be an employee – not an entrepreneur. People look for paychecks, but entrepreneurs need to be tough enough to operate when they don’t know where the next check is coming from, even if the instability lasts years.

  4. Being a small business (lone wolf or a very small team), is often a bad deal. When total hours worked are counted, most small biz owners earn less per hour than their employees due to all the back office work and long hours.

  5. What is cheating?

In school, cooperation during a test = cheating.

But in the army, you are trained to cooperate. Army functions based on teams, where people depend on each other.

But in business people don’t cooperate. In business, you’re told, “do as I tell you, or I’ll fire you”.

Army leaders lead via a mission (a task that needs to be achieved), and business leaders lead via money

  1. Lead your team with money only ⇒ people will do what they are told as long as they get paid.

In the army, as the situation becomes hazardous and harder, people work harder.

In business, the harder the situation gets, the opposite happens ⇒ teamwork disintegrates

  1. All entrepreneurs must be leaders

  2. The risks employees want to avoid (instability for example) are the risks entrepreneurs must take

  3. Leadership is not telling simply people what to do, paying them more, threatening to pay them less, or firing them.

  4. Some leaders lead by inspiration, some by intimidation. You need to decide which one you’ll be

  5. In the military, the culture of leadership is infused into everyone all the time

The leader comes from within the rank. But in business, new leaders come (are hired) from outside.

They are not infused with the culture of the organization.

We need to have a culture and focus that it’s infused into all employees.

Identify what your culture is and promote it to everyone

  1. In the army people always learn and educate themselves, but in the civilian world, not so much. Corporate educational events today seem to be mostly golf or party. Take in the heart the educational culture of the army where you always learn, and always train.

  2. The difference between civilians and people in the army – people in the army max out their education, training, core (spiritual) strength, willpower, and sense of mission

  3. Entrepreneurship is important and noble for job creation and prosperity. Governments can’t create jobs or prosperity. We all can serve our country by creating jobs and prosperity through entrepreneurship.

  4. The problem with traditional education is that we are all different. E.g. in one family only, there can be 4 children all skilled at something else.

We all need to exercise and develop our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional intel.

But schools focus only on mental intelligence.

  1. The best way to learn something is 1) Education + 2) Practice and/or doing

  2. We need to understand that we will learn and make progress by making mistakes (school teaches the opposite).

In school, we memorize to avoid mistakes. But in the real world, if you make mistakes, and learn from them, you become successful

  1. Practicing and making mistakes is extremely important

  2. Mental intelligence is the least important intel. for becoming a successful entrepreneur. A true entrepreneur, just like a leader, doesn’t need to be the most intelligent but he/she must know how to lead others, even more intelligent people, to success

  3. Being a leader requires emotional intelligence → our ability to control emotions.

Because for example when we lose temper, we lose control ⇒ low emotional intel.

High emotional int. ⇒ means you listen, don’t argue, or do a good job without expecting praise.

Or that you’re able to delay gratification.

Persevere when others quit

  1. Operate in spite of fear (not eliminate fear) ⇒ emotional intel.

Successful entrepreneurs have ongoing emotional intel. development

True leaders have high emotional IQ

  1. Spiritual intelligence → develop this by developing a sense of mission.

Operate by putting mission and team ahead of you

  1. Spiritual intelligence is the most important element for becoming a successful entrepreneurs
  2. You need a strong mission, a reason, apart from just making money
  3. The mission is spiritual it will get you through hell
  4. Live for something, rather than die for nothing
  5. Power to keep going when everything is gone

  1. Mental intel. – important but least. You can’t buy fighting spirit

  2. Good education is necessary for engineers, doctors, executives, and similar roles. It’s the door to the middle class. Entrepreneurship is the elevator for the rich.

  3. Mission, courage, sacrifice.

  4. Don’t use weak language such as: I try, I might, I can’t, I hope. This language is forbidden in the marine corps. These are fear-based words.

  5. Leaders speak spiritual words → mission, courage, duty, honor, code. Inspirational words.

  6. How to be an entrepreneur → work to learn —> best first step, go into business already in that market as an employee to learn. Learn = better than $. Wisdom and edge will be gained. Learn everything about it, edu and exp is priceless

  7. It’s what we don’t know that makes us poor. We need to gain experience from doing.

  8. If you have experience, you can always make more money

  1. Courage is being able to endure for one moment more

  2. #1 skill needed for an entrepreneur = to sell!

Sales = more income

  1. Many entrepreneurs fail due to a fear of rejection – no confidence to ask for what they want = not getting paid

  2. Fail faster. Learn how to sell by failing faster. Get through more NOs to get a YES… practice until you get better

  3. Too many jump into business too quickly, but without experience, they can sink all their savings. You need experience and will to get back up, not the money

  4. With the internet, we can go quicker and fail/learn faster, but also more competition.

  5. The power of mentors – you need to find a mentor. Someone who already faced and solved challenges you will face or are facing.

  6. A business plan is important, but an educational plan is more important – it will guide your educational development.

What should your education plan include? The list is endless. Sales, marketing, legal, accounting, taxes, debt finances, tech, HR.

No need to go back to school, but be an active learner. Invest into books and courses, or you’ll be soon out of business

  1. The law of compensation → income goes up as education, experience, and wisdom go up

  2. Failure is the path to success. Making mistakes, if you learn from them, will make you smarter

  3. In the military people spend more time practicing than fighting, do this in business as well. Keep doing and going until you get the result you want.

Henry Ford – was bankrupt 5x before Ford Motor co. was born.

Thomas Edison – failed 1,000x before the bulb was invented and General Electric was born.

  1. Courage to fail UNTIL you succeed = the spirit of a true entrepreneur

  2. The role of an entrepreneur or a business owner is to create processes and hire people to manage those processes, not to manage the processes yourself.

An entrepreneur needs to learn about opportunities and trends – you should be a generalist and hire experts in specific fields to manage the processes

Good leaders are generalists that create a team around them full of specialists with specific knowledge, skills, and experience.

Have a team of advisors, you don’t need to be the smartest in the room, you need to know a little about a lot of things and hire specialists in your team, people who know a lot about little.

  1. Be an active, aggressive learner.

  2. If you believe you know all the answers, you will lose a lot of money for yourself, your family, and your investors.

  3. Education in the military is vital because the enemy is always improving, be the same in business, always learn, because your competition is always improving as well

  4. The study of taxes and tax strategy is essential, many small businesses don’t learn how to get the tax code to work for them. Many small businesses, the backbone of the economy, pay more in taxes (%) than big business

  5. Job security is an oxymoron – the WW2 generation had some security (get a job, work there for a long time, and retire), but because of outsourcing, jobs are no longer secure. People want to be an employee for security, but it’s not secure. The concept of job security is a thing of the past.

  6. Entrepreneurs take it upon themselves to depend on their skills to create their financial future

  7. When emotions run your life – your emotional quotient (EQ) goes down.

  8. Don’t work hard because of the money. Work hard towards your mission. Your mission should be spiritual, it will come from your heart. Money is important, it’s the fuel of business. But the mission is more important, it will drive you and sustain you during a long, frustrating, tough, lonely, challenging path.

  9. Freedom (the possibility of) vs security ⇒ being an entrepreneur vs employee, the choice is yours.

Which choice excites you more, you need to go after.

In today’s world, either choice is not easy.

  1. The middle class doesn’t equal becoming rich, mid. class is becoming the working poor, sliding into poverty

  2. Most of us live in a society where we’re free to be rich or poor, capitalist or socialist, so why not strive to be rich?

  3. Leaders are role models. Leader = living a life to a higher standard. Lead by example.

  4. War and business are similar. Both are tough, dangerous environments.

  5. Mission, leadership, team.

  6. Your product is not the most important part of your business.

  7. Business is a system of systems. If one system is struggling, other systems will struggle.

  8. Good communication is all about comms. top-down. If communication is poor = the company is poor. You need good communication across marketing, sales, PR, web/digital HR.

  9. Focus on cash flow – you need more in than out (of course). That’s why you need clear accounting

  10. Your mission is critical, have it drilled in your head

  11. Team: to be a good leader focus on your team and know how to be a part of a team. A team is more important than an individual.

  12. Leadership is earned through trust, respect, competence, and experience.

  13. The success of your business is going to depend on how well your team(s) can work together.

  14. Have your mission, standards, and code and stick to it, not for others, but for yourself.

  15. Are you a loner or a leader?

Many people have great ideas but nobody listens to them or follows them. People can be smart but they have no power. No power to lead or inspire. In school we’re taught to win alone, in the military you’re taught to lead and to win with a team.

You are successful only when the team is successful.

  1. Many people prefer to be lone wolfs because dealing with people is never easy, young or old.

But for a business to grow, you need to learn how to deal with more and more people. This takes leadership.

  1. Small business owners and business owners of larger orgs. have different mental models.

Small business thinks that more people = more problems. If you want something done right do it yourself, etc.

(real) business owners think = I am looking for people smarter and more exp. than I am.

  1. Leaders must know how to attract people from different specialties and organize them to productive teams.

This usually means to take people who have been trained in traditional education to be a lone wolf and to work as a part of a team.

  1. Cooperation is essential for building wealth.

  2. Make commitments and choose someone to keep you accountable, and to give you feedback.

  3. Upgrade your peer group, be challenged by them, set better expectations for yourself through your group, and be forced into positions of leadership through the environment you create for yourself.

  4. If you want your team to follow you, approach them as a leader, not as a salesman, bartering. A “fair trade” or good ideas don’t make you a leader.

Lead by example, by actions your team wants/needs you to take.

  1. Discipline delivers a higher quality of life. Whether in fitness, finance, or business. People know that changes in behaviour (discipline) will bring this about.

We need to do more than just to have thoughts. Action requires discipline.

  1. We are often trapped between our problems and dreams. To change, we need discipline. It’s not easy.

  2. We can be often comfortable in a bad situation, but change and discipline will make us uncomfortable. E.g. staying in a bad job, or staying unhealthy, is easier than finding a new job or exercising.

  3. Changes often require doing uncomfortable things, meeting new people, and becoming a better person. All this is important to happen before the quality of life improves. First, we must change, then the quality of life will change.

  4. Discipline is not imposed on us by others. It’s what we do or don’t do to ourselves.

  5. Discipline is necessary to become a good leader.

  6. 2 types of discipline. Internal and external. The more you lack internal discipline (imposed by ourselves), the harsher the external discipline will be (imposed by others).

If you cut corners, and don’t do what you’re supposed to do, the external discipline will be harsher.

  1. The world is always disciplining us, whether we want it or not. E.g. if we are bad with our fitness and eating habits, the world will discipline us with health consequences.

  2. Bad results or lack of good results (including business) are the results of bad discipline in some areas.

  3. 4 cornerstones of discipline: mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Many people want to be successful in life, but they’re not strong in all 4 components.

  4. E.g. mentally, people say: I need to go on a diet (physical), but when they pass a chocolate brownie in 3 days, emotions revolt, and they say “I need the brownie”, and they give in. Emotional weakness.

  5. If we’re failing in some area of life, it’s likely one or more of the 4 components are weak. To turn these 4 components from weaknesses to strengths, we need discipline. Handling all components will help to elevate our lives.

Pressure in all components will help to strengthen these components.

  1. If someone says they can’t do something – a leader needs to assess whether they can’t do it mentally, emotionally, spiritually or physically. E.g. mentally not trained, physically unable, or spiritually inefficient to handle the fear, pressure or sadness. A good leader needs to know the capabilities of individuals when managing a team.

  2. With spiritual weakness, it’s almost impossible to withstand the rigors of entrepreneurship.

An entrepreneur needs to endure their fears of not having a steady paycheck, continuing to operate when there’s a lack of funds, ability to learn quickly after mistakes, taking responsibility for everything in the business, and working hard for years on a goal that isn’t certain to come.

And keep going when all hope is gone.

  1. In business, all 4 components are put to test. If the spiritual components is weak, the 3 others components are weakened.

  2. Character is a function of discipline.

  3. Both internal and external discipline will keep us going through tough times.

  4. When everything is going badly, spiritual strength is being tested. You need to keep going, there’s no way back. Going forward with discipline, doing this day in and day out, slowly but surely, will turn bad luck into good luck.

  5. If we’re experiencing tough situations, it’s a sign we need to improve in one of the 4 cornerstones. We must change before our life will change.

  6. Continue working towards your mission. Money shouldn’t be the mission. Money is how to keep score. Financial statements will tell us how well we’re doing in fulfilling our mission.

  7. Exercise to develop leadership skills: think about time when I was afraid to do something or say something I knew was important to my life. Which 4 cornerstones were weak?

  8. Exercise to develop leadership skills: in what cornerstones am I strong, and in which am I weak?

  9. Exercise to develop leadership skills: External discipline: someone external to put pressure on my life (fitness coach, business mentor).

Self-discipline: achieving success on my own. If we want to go achieve higher levels, we need both, and we need to improve in both.

For example hire better or tougher coaches, and hold ourselves to higher standard of achievement.

Amateurs don’t use coaches, professionals do. Think about areas of my life where I could use external discipline.

  1. Exercise to develop leadership skills: think about the area of my life where I want to reach improvement. E.g. what would I need to do to increase revenue?

  2. Exercise to develop leadership skills: think about leaders that have good and bad discipline. What are their results in each case?

  3. People often lack discipline because they are not taking the occasion seriously enough. E.g. an army pilot will be more disciplined in their training than a business person, because war has higher stakes. In the military, there is no other way but discipline.

We need to reframe the seriousness of business or of improving our life to approach education, discipline, and training in the same serious way.

New levels of discipline will unlock new levels of skill and success.

  1. We can unlock our true potential – the magical person living in each and every one of us – through discipline.

  2. Discipline is doing what must be done when it must be done, even if we don’t want to do it.

  3. Discipline and organization are things to appreciate. We should be committed to discipline, not because it’s forced externally, but because we want to be disciplined – discipline makes for a better life.

  4. Respect is essential for cooperation in the army and in business. In the army, disrespect is not tolerated and punished. In combat, officers who weren’t respected by their troops often died.

  5. Respect has to be given before it’s received. Respect builds pride. Respect is essential for leaders.

  6. ABC: always be caring. In contrast to ABC in sales – Always Be Closing.

People don’t like a hard sell. It’s important to ask for the sale, but the most successful sales people are those whose customers know that the salesperson cares about them.

  1. Don’t always think “what’s in it for me”. Think about the mission, then the team, then individual.

  2. The power of feedback: it’s important to learn how to take severe feedback unemotionally and realize its value, and learn from it quickly. Don’t let it get to you, use it to build your mind and spirit.

  3. When giving feedback, make sure the person knows you care about them.

  4. Always show compassion, when selling, giving feedback or firing someone.

  5. Leaders care more about others than they care about themselves.

  6. Leadership is a function of communication. The better the communication = the better the leader = the stronger the organization.

A good leader must be able to communicate with everyone in the organization using their language.

  1. A good leader (a good communicator) has 2 important tasks.

One – insist on respect and caring for others throughout all company communication, internal and external. Not sugary and phony, but real, sincere, and caring.

Two – a leader must know the language of mission, team, and leadership through all org. structures and not favour one over the other.

Generalists make better leaders also, for this reason, they don’t favour one area of the business over the other.

  1. In the traditional educational system, people are trained to be individualists, not working in a team as opposed to in the army.

  2. If you’re respectful the sun and the moon will come to you, but if you’re disrespectful, it will cost you.

  3. Respect is the foundation for unity. Respect is therefore one of the most important aspects of leadership.

  4. The need for speed: people and things today that are slow are obsolete and soon out of business.

  5. There are 4 types of organizational speed. 1. Angular speed. 2. Process speed. 3. Pocket speed. 4. Gradient speed.

  6. Angular speed – The org. can’t expand if the core is sloppy or weak. The weakest element of the business can trigger the demise of the entire business.

Internal control of processes and comms. systems is essential for expansion.

Most businesses stay small because the owner is the only core component. E.g. McDonald’s have tight processes.

  1. Process speed – time is money. Many businesses fail because their process is too slow. Mcdonald’s is quick to deliver you the meal – process speed.

  2. Pocket speed – ability to hit a target by coordinating time, money, resources, team, execution.

  3. Gradient speed – how fast you can learn. As a leader, be mindful that people learn at different speeds and that different people learn different things at different speeds.

It’s often not about how fast can people learn, but how effective the teachers are.

  1. We need to have all 4 speeds.

  2. Personal growth = taking on new challenges

  3. For many, life is just about security, safety, and weekends off. This is the diff. between those that lead, and those who follow.

  4. Don’t play life to “not lose”, play full out – play to win.

  5. We are as strong as our weakest link, so what to do when you identify that a team member is hurting the team?

There’s no right answer. But the trick is not to just eliminate them, but to look for ways where they’ll be most productive – play to their strengths.

We need to assign the right people to the right tasks.

  1. Instill the freedom to communicate and a culture of honesty.

Regularly look for weaknesses and actively work on correcting them.

Don’t bash others, but teach and promote in-team teaching so everyone can make each other better.

  1. As a leader, create an environment where honest feedback is possible and desirable.

  2. Unite to win. We need to strive for unity in all facets of life. The ability to unite people is an essential skill for leaders.

  3. Most people don’t progress in business because they stay small – they know how to divide (e.g. how the business can stand out from the competition), but don’t know how to unite a team and operate as a group.

  4. Understand the power of rituals – rituals can unite people. Orgs. with (strong) rituals are more powerful than orgs. with no rituals.

If someone in an org. doesn’t respect the way things are done and wants to do things “their way”, not respecting the rituals of the business, they are out of sync, and generally, it’s better to let them go their way.

They don’t respect the org. culture, but respect unites people, and disrespect alienates people.

  1. The power of connectivity – it’s one of the most powerful human needs. That’s why businesses want to be “brands” that connect with people.

Great leaders can inspire people and make them feel they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. Integrity is essential for connectivity.

  1. Just like in the army, it’s essential to have a “code of honor” by which we operate.

E.g. 1) I work for my customers and employees first
2) My employees’ welfare is as important as my welfare
3) I manage finances responsibly
4) Acquire assets before liabilities
5) Give more, if you want more

  1. Leaders need to know to unite, e.g. with a common mission, and divide – through agreed rituals or “code of honor” (conduct) by which the org. operates

  2. Leaders are teachers.

  3. There are 2 types of pain. The pain of discipline, and the pain of regret. The pain of discipline is temporary and short-lived. The pain of regret is eternal.

  4. The 20min rule for motivation.

Use it to get the motivation to do anything you don’t feel like doing in a given moment.

For example, if you don’t want to go to the gym, write a blog post, etc.

Generally, you will feel pain for ~20mins once you start, but then you’re likely to feel happy to do what you’ve started.

Most people don’t want the 20mins of pain, they rather live in regret.

Most people lack the discipline to push through the pain.

You need to have the discipline to go through the pain and to face your fears

  1. “Do what you love and the money will follow”. BS… in business you often need to do what needs to be done.

  2. True leaders inspire others to be leaders.

  3. Many teachers think that by talking more, their students learn more. Bad teachers and leaders often talk a lot, they often give orders no one follows, or share wisdom no one wants.

Bad teachers and leaders want to get you to do things by threats or trying to be liked by you (phony compliments). Best leaders are the “strong silent” types – a few words, but when they speak, people listen.

Good teachers and leaders observe more than they talk, and ask questions that will help them to learn more.

Same in sales. The more you listen and learn about your prospects vs talking at them/trying to sell, the more you close.

  1. Changing habits changes lives. Changing habits requires changes mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

  2. Reading books, courses, and watching lectures, will not change habits alone. It’s the least effective way to learn.

Simulation/training and doing (the real thing) is the best way to learn and form new habits.

This is important for you, but also for structuring group/team learning (education + implementation)

  1. Deeds, not words. Let your actions do the talking for you.

  2. Leadership is one big sales job. The biggest leaders in the world, from spiritual (e.g. Jesus) to political (e.g. Obama), are salespeople.

Those who sell the most become leaders in their field. Leaders must sell their WHY.

  1. People will not blindly follow. You need to first earn the respect of people, and then lead.

  2. Communication is more than just words. Words play only a small role in powerful and successful communication. They are important, but the power of words is influenced by TONE (emotion behind words. Good speakers vary their tone. Monotone speech bores), TIMBRE (quality of person’s voice), and TEMPO (pace of speech). An effective leader is aware of all as they speak.

  3. True communication is the response you get. It’s not what you say – it’s the feedback you receive that measures our success or failure. E.g. in sales – if we’re good, money goes up.

Money is the response.

If we hear objections + don’t collect any money, that’s also a response.

Use the outcome/feedback as a learning lesson to learn from it, practice, and change communication until the response we want is achieved.

  1. Poor leaders blame their workers.

Poor salespeople blame their customers.

That’s not taking responsibility, that’s simply to blame.

People who blame will not develop into leaders.

Leaders invest their time to develop the ability and skills to get the response (outcome) they want.

  1. Sales is the #1 skill for an entrepreneur.

  2. Physical appearance sells before we start selling.

  3. All decisions are emotional. To be an effective communicator and a salesperson, we need to get to people at the primal level. Humans are not rational, we are emotional.

For example, ads targeting young men use your women – s3x is primal.

Car ads = highlight safety. Safety is primal.

Ads that don’t hit primal core are met with less success vs ads that do.

  1. A few primal hot buttons that leaders and salespeople must hit: fear, s3x, desire, love, respect, and attractiveness.

If it’s not emotional = it’s boring.

Boring people are generally poor leaders and poor salespeople.

  1. Character is not defined by the absence of fear, but by taking actions despite fear.

  2. The basis of leadership is courage. Courage is not necessary when times are normal, but necessary when we’re challenged.

Develop leadership skills by developing a habit of putting yourself in situations where courage needs to be tested.

  1. People who are successful do things other people won’t do. They’re willing to do sacrifices.

  2. Everyone is always selling, and someone is always buying. From situations in business to relationships/courting, motivating people (selling them on an idea that they’re better than they think they are, or better than the performance they’re showing), selling a message, selling a vision.

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