5 Leadership Lessons My Mentors Have Taught Me


If you’re the smartest person you know, it’s time to know some new people.

If you’re the most successful person on your street, today I encourage you to find a new street. [I’m only partly joking on his one].

If you’re the most productive person in your community, it’s definitely time to find a new community.

The principle I’m hinting at with my usual love and respect for you? We become our conversations. And our associations sculpt our destinies.

In this Mastery Session I’ll walk you through how mentors transformed my life. And why you should find at least one. Starting today.

Think like a pro. Lead like a warrior. Produce like a Picasso. And love like a saint.

Be great. Bye.


P.S. Want to get an “insiders only” look at my life when I travel the planet or see my progress as I write my new book The 5 AM Club?

Cool. Just follow me on Instagram so you can join me on my journey here.

We’re also happy to provide you the transcription at no cost.

5 Leadership Lessons My Mentors Have Taught Me

Hi, it’s Robin Sharma, author of The Leader Who had No Title, founder of The Titan Academy, and I’m so pleased to welcome you to this Mastery Session. This one is all about 5 Leadership Lessons My Mentors Have Taught Me.

I think it was the mathematician, Newton, who once said, “If I have seen more than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” I don’t know if you have a mentor, but if you don’t have a mentor, you’ll want to get a mentor as swiftly as possible because we become our influences. We become our conversations. We think like, and we perform like the people we surround ourselves with in our orbit.

One of the things that has served me so well is populating my professional life and my personal life with people who are at a higher level than I’m at, and they are called mentors. When I was 21 years old, I lived in a relatively small city on the East Coast of Canada. I was very blessed to be associated with a mentor who was a financial epic performer. He was doing very, very well in the capital markets, and I just looked at his lifestyle and I looked at his belief system. We used to go for these long, wonderful walks in the forest that was also along the seaside on the East Coast of Canada.

One day, it was a sunny day in the summer. He said something to me I still remember to this day. He said, “Robin, run your own race.” That’s really the first lesson I learned from one of my mentors. Run your own race. Stay in your own lane. You have no competition if you are in your own division. What I mean by that is simply this: it’s so easy to get swept off your game, swept off your vision, swept off your values, swept off your focus when you’re measuring your success and your performance by your so-called peers in your industry or your competition within your craft. That first lesson was so profound. He simply said, “Run your own race.”

1. Run Your Own Race

Come up with your ambition. Come up with your vision and have the singular focus and the character discipline to say, “I’m just going to put these blinders on and stay true to myself, true to my values, true to my vision.” First thing, run your own race. Stay in your own lane. Measure success by how close you’re getting to your mountaintop versus the mountaintop of your competition or your neighbors.

2. Be Willing To Be Eccentric

The 2nd leadership lesson I learned from my mentors is, be willing to be eccentric. You can be like the 95%, or you can play in rare-air. You can’t do both. If you are going to play in rare-air, then that means you’re going to shift from the belief system and the mindsets and the heart-sets of the majority, and that’s going to be unpopular. You’re going to feel confused. One pundit said it so well - he said, “If you are confused, celebrate it. It means you are still free.” It’s the people who are asleep, the people who are coasting through their lives, that silent majority, the 95%, watching too much TV, self-medicating with too much gossip, being busy being busy, no juice within them. They’ve lost the fire in their belly and they’re in this silent pain of potential unexpressed going through life, and they think it’s okay.

What I’m suggesting to you on this second leadership lesson I’ve learned from my mentors is, as you shift from the herd and rise to the rare-air of that 5% or the top .0001%, you’re going to have to think differently. You’re going to have to feel differently. You’re going to have to install different rituals. You’re going to have to perform in different habits. You’re going to have to be eccentric. What I am encouraging you to do, is develop the character power to get good with being strange. Develop the interior bravery to be comfortable being eccentric. If people ridicule you and if they laugh at you and if they don’t understand you, please remember every great leader, every bold genius was misunderstood.

3. Stand for World-Class

The 3rd leadership lesson that I’ve learned from my mentors is: stand for world-class. I look around the world right now, and - it’s not judgment, it’s simply reporting - but in business, I spent most of my life, whether it’s at my annual flagship event, The Titan Summit, or whether it’s working with the Fortune 500 or whether it’s being a private advisor to a lot of celebrity billionaires. What I’m noticing in business right now is what I call the collective de-professionalization of business. You see, people who are at work, let’s say, on the shop floor or maybe it’s a runway outside of an airplane or maybe it’s at a hotel or in a restaurant, and rather than having a laser-like focus to doing world-class work, they’re checking their mobile devices or they’re chitchatting or they’re gossiping.

Even personally, I was in a hotel the other day and I saw a guest in the lobby laying on the couch like it was his bedroom or his living room. He had no shoes on. His feet were up on the arm of the sofa. I’ve noticed that. It’s this collective de-professionalization in business where people are forgetting that when you are at work, it’s showtime. Bring on your A-game. I’m seeing, even in society at large as I crisscross the planet, people are treating public spaces like it’s their home. Even yesterday, it was a lovely summer’s day and I went to this park. It was the end of my workday, and it was a really long day. I just wanted to soak in the beauty of the moment before I went home to spend time with my loved ones.

There were some people around me and their phones were going off and they didn’t have the courtesy to turn it to low or on to vibrate, and they also had it on where you actually could hear the speaker. The speaker was on. All I’m saying is, if you want to live your best life, if you want to own your game in your industry, if you want to live a life that makes history, raise your standards. Raise your standards of how you live. Raise your standards to world-class in terms of the work you do. Raise your standards in terms of your conversations. Raise your standards in terms of the friends you have. Raise the standards to world-class in terms of the food you eat. Raise your standards in terms of your daily rituals because genius is less about inherited genetics and much more about your installed habits. Raise your standards about your beliefs. Raise your standards about the way you interact with your customers.

Go the extra mile. Every moment in front of a customer is a moment of truth. You can stand for the highest of values or you can just be average like so many performers out there. I really want you to dial into, are you living at a level that is world-class in terms of standards right across the board.

4. Be Deep vs Be Light

One of my mentors, he had been a very iconic lawyer. He simply taught me the importance of rigor and depth, so the 4th leadership lesson is Be Deep vs Be Light. Be deep. This is a gorgeous opportunity to build a monopoly of mastery within your industry. You want to be so good at what you do, that when we watch you in action, tears come to our eyes. People will rise to their feet and applaud you. How do you do that? You separate yourself from the way most people operate in business and in life. You go deep. We live in a world that is really suffering from the cult of superficiality. Everything is fast. Everything is quick. Everything is light.

Imagine, you resolve today, “I will be deep when I do work, when I work on a project, when I build a client relationship, when I work with a personal relationship, when I install a new habit.” It’s not going to be light. I’m not going to be superficial. I’m going to go deep. I’m going to bring rigor to my game. Let’s say you’re installing a new habit. Let’s say it’s my famous 5 am Club. You start reading all the literature on the neurobiology of early rising. You actually read all of the books on habit installation. You actually find a coach, let’s say, to help you install the 5 am routine. You actually build out a protocol to mark your progress.

I’m just saying, could you imagine rather than going very wide in your work or very wide in your personal life, you dial it in with a monomaniacal focus to be genius level at just a few things? That’s rigor. Rigor is really an approach. I was in Lucerne, Switzerland, a few months ago and I was working on my new book. Someone delivered some tea and I’d asked for some fresh lemon. What I noticed is whoever had sliced the lemons took the time to de-seed the lemon wedges. And that’s really your metaphor for this podcast. That’s what this lesson is all about. The fourth leadership lesson, be deep versus be light.

It’s about de-seeding the lemon wedges on the areas of focus that are most important to you. Anyone can just cut the lemon wedges and hand them to you, but this producer had the discipline, the bravery, the acumen, the commitment, the devotion - to actually take the time to de-seed the lemon wedges.

The final thing I’m going to leave you with, the fifth leadership lesson my mentors have taught me, be kind.

5. Be Kind

One mentor in particular comes to my mind. He was in his 80’s, and one of the things I got right was I made sure I put it onto my agenda earlier this year to get on an airplane, and to carve out a morning where I spent a few hours with this vast mentor who had shaped my life. This was a man when I was in my early 20’s I was blessed to work with, and from him I learned excellence, and from him I learned great humility, and from him I learned a gentleness of spirit, and from him I learned so much about what it takes to be a true leader, what it takes to be a legendary person, what it takes to build great relationships, what it takes to be an instrument of service in the world.

He was in his twilight when I met him on that early spring morning. He blessed me with two hours of his day. I used that opportunity to be grateful because I think gratitude is a great way to go through life. When I left him, I asked him, I said, “What’s most important?” He said, “Robin, be kind.” He leaned back while he still looked at me, and he said, “Robin, oh, that’s so important. Be kind.” Then he reached over and he hugged me and he said, “I love you.” About four months later, I received news that he had passed away, but I’ve never forgotten the importance of that simple idea, which is simply profound. Be kind. Thank you, and I hope this podcast has been of service to you.

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