3 out of 4 stars
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Take Your Mark, Lead!: Ten Ways to Lead Yourself and Others Like a Champion is a guide on leadership authored by Kelly Parker Palace. A former athlete and coach, Palace draws from her own experiences and those of other influential individuals she’s interviewed and interacted with. From eager leaders to passionate persisters and confidence carriers, Palace’s book examines the character traits of each leader and how to hone that specific persona. She uses celebrated names, primarily in the sports and business arenas, as the forefront of her argument; they exemplify certain qualities and dish out advice, having impressive achievements that qualify them for the pinnacle of leadership. She credits some of these as role models and a means of inspiration that have affected her own journey. Her own leadership roles and lessons have led to success in her life, not just as an athlete and a coach, but in the corporate realm as well.
I’ll state the only drawback of this book from early on. This is that, though I do believe that this book was professionally edited—owing to the well-written quality and effortless flow of words—I did note several errors in the writing. I think, therefore, that the editing rounds might not have been exactly thorough.
Several components round off the contents of this book. The setup leads readers to the main point of each chapter, with these ten chapters being dedicated to unique personas of leaders and named accordingly. Running a common thread through the different parts of the story is a definition of each persona and a corresponding quote by an easily recognized public figure. The ‘Take Your Mark, Lead’ segment at the end of the chapter summarizes the points discussed, showing readers first how to lead themselves then others with a champion checklist to follow. A discussion guide is the final addition to an informative read.
Palace’s book addresses numerous factors that come into play in any leadership role. It breaks down the habits and practices of leaders, dealing with the mental side as well as the physical. Palace acknowledges the strenuous effort of leadership roles. She okays some of the struggles we all go through by sharing her own battle with breast cancer, making the story relatable by means of brief anecdotes from her time at Pfizer, in her personal life, and as a co-host of a podcast. Interviews conducted with many sportspersons, including Bob Bowman, Ryan Murphy, Cody Miller, David Marsh, and Lewis Pugh, reveal insights into the life of a leader. This had an increased benefit of making the reference point for the story somewhat varied.
My favourite chapter of the book was titled ‘Discipline Developer’. This might have something to do with my own struggle with procrastination and discipline, so I think it was a matter of the points resonating with me. Of note, Lewis Pugh serves to epitomize the character traits of one who is extremely disciplined, completing long-distance swims in freezing cold temperatures. I honestly took a long, hard look at some of recent practices and cringed at the comparison. I hope this book, and this chapter in particular, will be more than temporary inspiration and really help my growth, both as a leader and as a person.
I give Take Your Mark, Lead! a rating of three out of four stars. The one-star deduction is a result of the number of errors I found in the writing. Otherwise, this book sums up great qualities of leaders and propels readers on the difficult but rewarding road to leadership. It's worth recommending to people who enjoy self-help books, particularly leadership nonfiction.
Take Your Mark, LEAD!
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