Today, I want to talk to you about the least glamorous leadership topic there is: sacrifice.

Really, how many seminars on sacrifice have you been to?

It is not exactly the first thing that business speakers jump to cover. It is not an eye-catching topic that puts people in seats. Who is excited to talk about the things we need to give up?

You should be – and let me tell you why.

Sacrifice is a crucial focal point of achieving anything lasting.

A desire, naturally, presents us with a gap: the gap between where we are and where we want to be. And in order to close that gap, we must give up something. Sacrifice is necessary.

Now, that doesn’t mean we must fixate on what we must let go; no good can come from obsessing over the cost. But we do need to know what we value so that we know what we are willing to give up to get it.

Sacrifice is the letting go of something of a lesser value for the attainment of something of a higher value. In order to obtain the thing of higher value, we must know the difference.

For example, in the last 10 years, my wife and I have moved 4 times – and moving is such a hassle.

There’s searching for a new place to live, packing everything up – then unpacking everything, and still somehow living out of unlabeled boxes for 6 weeks – organizing, transporting, cleaning, coordinating…

To complicate things further, 2 of those moves were to different countries. There are so many forms to complete!

Then there’s finding a new job, forging new relationships, missing familiar ones… it is a dreadfully laborious process.

By now, even I am beginning to wonder why anyone wants to move – and I did! 4 times in 10 years!

But every time, there was something lying in front of us that was of greater import than all of those things. 

Every time, we had the opportunity to make a greater impact and expand our reach. And even in the face of inconvenience, tedium, and the unknown, the opportunity to increase our capacity to lead made the decision relatively easy.

During one of our relocations, I found work at a company with a very rich culture.

Before leaving, I had held a position with a compelling title, and with influence, too. At this new company, I was starting over – even taking a pay cut – and oh, how easy it would have been to complain, or let my title keep me standing still.

But I wanted to prosper, I wanted that inner enrichment that this new company posed, so I took a job there with a smaller scope. I scaled back so I could move forward.

In any decision, my first concern is always growth. At any fork in the road, I ask myself,

“Am I willing to give up all that I have for a new level of growth?”

And knowing that that is what I value above all else makes any choice, any sacrifice, so much simpler.

In chapter 22 of Leadership Gold, Dr. John Maxwell gives his take on the critical role that sacrifice plays in leadership – and then, he asks 3 perspective-defining questions:

1. What sacrifices have you made?

Nothing is gained without something being given up. What have you traded for what you have now?

2. What additional sacrifices do you need to make?

Financial literacy 101: you must manage a budget. You must know what you need to spend in order to fulfill your obligations.

What do you anticipate giving up in order to achieve what you want?

3. What would you sacrifice for the betterment of your people?

As a leader, you do not only decide on behalf of yourself. You decide on behalf of everyone you lead.

How do you determine what you value for them? And what will you sacrifice to obtain it?

That’s all for now.

Until next time,


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