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First, let me thank all my readers, especially my subscribers. You make it possible to be heard in a world full of noise. I appreciate you all.

I am currently in the process of writing two books, both on leadership – one more personal and the other more pragmatic.

Below is the introduction to the more personal one in which I will lay out the 12 Things I wish someone would have told me 12 years ago when I started in high level leadership. I would love some feedback on what you think and potential changes, deletions, and editing you would suggest. I am all ears!


Introduction

Graduating college, I felt like I could take on the world. Somehow I believed the world needed me and my unique talent and skills to spin on. It took less than three months to realize how wrong and naive I was. It was July 2001, when it all began to crumble.

Many would have seen my life a picture perfect from the outside. I come from a supportive family that never divorced. I am a middle child (and middle children know exactly what that means). I grew up in a small town but with a high standard of education. My wife was also my best friend through high school. We ended up going to college together and planned on marriage after graduation. We graduated in May 2001, and less than three months later (literally four days before our wedding date), Lynette was diagnosed with cancer. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Monday, following the Saturday we were married, skipping the extravagant getaway honeymoon, we found ourselves in a hospital room as Lynette would begin 11 months of chemo and radiation. This would be the first of many sufferings we would overcome as a couple and as young leaders.

Fast-forward to the present, my wife is a 15-year cancer survivor. They told us we would not be able to have children, and we have two beautiful daughters. Both of them did not come without hardship either, as our oldest we had to leave at the hospital in NICU as we went home without our tiny princess. Our youngest had a children’s orthopedic specialist before she was six months old due to bone growth and hip concerns. Both of them are doing incredibly well now and more of their stories are expounded on throughout the axioms.

Finally, I focus only on myself as a way to help you connect to me as the writer and why I feel I am worthy of writing such a treatise. When I read books, I often do so, especially, when I connect to the author in some way, even if it is a minor way. When I was 33, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease. The four years following the diagnosis, I had four surgeries – three full hip replacements and a cervical neck fusion. Now don’t worry, I don’t have three hips! The second surgery performed on my right hip cracked my femur and a year later had to be redone. That was the longest year of my young life! As of this writing, I am in the process of scheduling a shoulder surgery (say that three times fast) and a lower back fusion. Needless to say, I collect orthopedic doctors like some guys collect baseball cards!

Why do I mention all of this? Well, I am glad you asked. Because I believe all of these things happened for a reason. I believe that no pain is to ever be wasted. That each of us has a unique pain and that pain is a grace allowing us to move forward in our life and leadership.

Our sufferings don’t shape us, our reactions to them do!

Through all of the circumstances described above and other I will add later, I have been able to not only lead, but lead well and find promotion, satisfaction, and success. Plus, I did it all by being happy through the process. Happy doesn’t mean everything was easy, as a matter of fact, as you will find throughout this book, many issues were crippling and hard and lead to times of what classical theologians call, the dark nights of the soul.

Happy describes my core belief not my outward circumstances.

Well enough about me and now onto you and how this book will benefit your life and leadership.

12 Things is designed to be read as you like without being sequential. Each chapter is stand alone in the principles and observations. You can read the ones that stand out to you or you can use this as a regular resource to come back to when you encounter leadership issues that connect with the topics. Axioms are powerful tools. Their mantra can help you focus and center yourself in the world wind we call leadership and life.

I have also added “Learn to Lead” sections at the end of each chapter. This will allow you to journal and take it further or to lead your staff or volunteer teams through the principles.

These sections are also downloadable PDFs at www.leadinghappy.com/LearntoLeadDownloads (note: link is not live yet)

This book isn’t original or infallible, but it is approachable and easily applicable, and for that reason, I wrote this for you! You are the leader in the trenches on a daily basis, high fiving, praying, crying, celebrating, and even mourning. Yours is a confusing and fast paced world that never seems to end, and we are all called to somehow lead and even grow as leaders. When do we find time for that? Again, for this reason, I have written this book to be a short and quick read, with others to follow with more depth.

Just so you know, I am currently in the trenches daily as a leader. I am not writing from the safety of a plush office any longer. I recently left a thriving church of over 3,000 as an executive pastor to direct a nonprofit that fights to alleviate food insecurities in Southern Missouri. I work alongside underpaid teachers, rub shoulder with the incredibly wealthy, and unify high caliber community leaders to create sustainable transformation in our county’s cities. I have tested the advice over 20 years of leading and it has yet to fail me, so I know it won’t fail you. As the title suggest, I wish someone would have told me these twelve years ago when I started leading at an executive level.

No matter where you are lead well – and lead happy!

David Lermy

Branson, Missouri

September 2016