Leadership / Maxwell Ideas

Leading People: A Guide to Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws (Part 6)

Think the Law of Gravity, not criminal law…

What do these 3 1990's blockbusters have in common?

Before we get started, I want to acknowledge the passing of a Steve Jobs, one of the truly visionary leaders of our generation. While he might have been prickly to work with, according to some accounts, few can deny the passion and genius he brought to several different industries. As we look at the Law of the Big Mo, we will look at just one of the many places he had an impact – the movies. We will also look at winning on and off the basketball court, and the sacrifices made by one of America’s Founding Fathers that truly shaped our nation. So, let’s get to the next 3 laws: The Laws of the Big Mo, Priorities, Sacrifice. 

#16 – The Law of the Big Mo – Momentum is a Leader’s Best Friend.

What do Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, and Toy Story have in common? If you are thinking Oscars, you are close. The first 2 did win Oscars for their special effects, and John Lasseter of Pixar won a special achievement Oscar for helming the first feature length computer animated film. But the real link is that all three played a part in creating the momentum in the powerhouse Pixar Animation Studios. As mentioned in my last blog post, Steve Jobs bought what became Pixar from Lucasfilms. Part of the brain trust that came with that deal was Ed Catmull, a PhD computer graphics guru responsible for what was Pixar’s initial intellectual property asset: computer graphics animation software. The other key element of the new brain trust was John Lasseter, a former Disney animator who was the executive producer for the various demonstration projects that showed the software’s capabilities.

When Catmull and Lasseter produced Luxo Jr., Pixar’s first demo project to help people understand the capability of its software, the fact that people were as interested in the story of the two lamps as they were about the software, they knew that they could create feature films. The challenge was that they didn’t have resources or money. That’s why ILM (which developed the special effects for JP and T2) and other studios were so critical to Pixar. Momentum is slow to gain and requires lots of effort. In 1991, Pixar finally landed an opportunity with Disney, where Disney would distribute three feature films to be developed by Pixar. While it would take several more years for Jobs, Catmull, and Lasseter to complete their initial film, Toy Story, the result exceeded all expectations, yielding great profits for Pixar and Disney, and creating huge momentum for Pixar.

#17 – The Law of Priorities – Leaders understand that Activity is not necessarily Accomplishment.

It is very easy to confuse activity and accomplishment. Yet many leaders get lost in the activity and lose sight of accomplishment. How does this happen? They fail to prioritize. Knowing what is important allows leaders to get more important things done, leading to higher achievement, productivity, and satisfaction for the leader and for his team. A perfect example of this was the late Coach John Wooden of UCLA. He was always thinking about what his teams needed to become better, meticulously reviewing, organizing, and directing practices and games to achieve his goals. Of course, what was Wooden’s real priority? He prepared players for life by teaching them to give their best in all that they did. He was more concerned with how things were done than in results, because he understood that if you do things well and to the best of your ability, results would follow. And results certainly followed John Wooden. During his career he would only have one losing season (his first), have four undefeated seasons and win ten NCAA championships.

#18 – The Law of Sacrifice – The leader must give up to go up.

There are many stories of people giving up things in order to get something more important or valuable. When we buy something, we are sacrificing our hard-earned dollars to get something we perceive is more valuable to us (at least at the time we get it). History is full of people who sacrificed in order to achieve some higher purpose, even to the point of giving their lives for their cause. In the area of leadership, though, I think few surpass America’s premier founding father, George Washington. Scion of a prosperous family, Washington still accumulated wealth and position due to his hard work, developing and growing his skills as a soldier, planter, and community leader. Nobody was better prepared to lead the Continental Army than Washington. The Continental Congress recognized this and appointed him Commander in Chief. While he didn’t personally win many head-to-head engagements with the British, his skill at bringing together an inner circle allowed him to train and maintain a force until the opportunity for decisive victory came at Yorktown. At this point Washington truly lived the law of sacrifice. Loyal to the idea of a free people, he walked away from military power, resigning his commission and voluntarily yielding to the civilian leadership of the new nation. Never before had a military leader willingly ceded power at the height of his control and influence. His judgment established his influence in post-colonial America, leading to his selection as the chair of the Constitutional Convention and eventually his election as the nation’s first President under the new Constitution.

In our next installment, we will finish the series by looking at The Laws of Timing, Explosive Growth, and Legacy. If you would like a complimentary listing of the 21 Irrefutable Laws, please follow this link.

If you would like a complimentary listing of the 21 Irrefutable Laws, please follow this link.

Click here to review my post on the Laws of the Lid, Influence, and Process.

Click here to review my post on the Laws of Navigation, Addition, and Solid Ground.

Click here to review my post on the Laws of Respect, Intuition, and Magnetism.

Click here to review my post on the Laws of Connection, Inner Circle, and Empowerment.

Click here to review my post on the Laws of the Picture, Buy-in, and Victory.


2 thoughts on “Leading People: A Guide to Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws (Part 6)

  1. Pingback: Leading People: A Guide to Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws (Part 7) « Leading in the 21st Century

  2. Pingback: Leading People: A Guide to Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws (Part 7) | Dwayne Baptist & Associates

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