Robert Murray’s new book “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing Your Innate Leadership for Business and Life Success” is more than a “How To” business book or even one that claims to reveal the secrets of business leadership. I’ve read a lot of business and self-help books over the years, and often, they tend to say the same thing. The key is how the message comes across in these books—do they inspire the reader or not? “It’s Already Inside” stands apart from the crowd—dare I say it’s a leader among business books—precisely because the message is clearer than in many, the examples are uniquely all Murray’s own, and he does not rely on quoting from all the other experts or repeating often told tales of previous entrepreneurs. Instead, Murray tells his own story and the stories of people he has known well who have become respected leaders. Each story is told with purpose and insight.
Murray sometimes draws his inspiration and message from what at first may seem like unlikely sources, but never does he lose his purpose. Whether it’s climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or dealing with a teenager, each situation that Murray describes offers both inspiration and practical and applicable lessons of leadership.
The majority of this book’s thirty-six chapters are relatively short and can be read in five or ten minutes. I recommend reading just a chapter a day and then spending the rest of the day thinking about what Murray says and how to apply his advice to your own situation. Murray wants the reader to give thought to the message, and he provides a challenge or questions for further thought at the end of each chapter. While any chapter could be read by itself and provide something of value, the chapters gradually build upon one another until the reader is inspired to use his or her innate skills to become a better leader.
What I liked best about Murray’s message was how he defines a leader—not with one of those dictionary definitions, but by using comparisons and contrasts with various business and leadership scenarios, such as how a leader is different from a manager, and how a leader can lead by inspiring, rather than threatening or micro-managing his team. Murray provides numerous stories of leaders in action, most in business, but not all. Murray’s friend from his school days, Terry Fox, Canada’s famed one-legged runner, is one model of leadership; Murray tells part of Terry’s story most may not know—how Terry’s journey began with a desire just to be on the basketball team. Other tales of leadership sometimes focus on what not to do, including insight into NASA, when not to overreact, and how to handle corporate graffiti. Many of these stories come from surprising places, such as a run-in with rock star Billy Idol or misjudging people who later surprise you.
Although the bulk of “It’s Already Inside” focuses on how a leader can tap into his or her innate talents and skills, Murray doesn’t forget the other side of the equation—the people you lead, or the customers with whom you do business. Probably my favorite chapter is the one where Murray describes his business trip to Greece and how he learned to do business with the Greeks, as well as later, people in business all around the globe. He has learned how to be in the customer and the employee’s shoes and to understand where the other person is coming from so he can meet people halfway. He obviously knows what it takes to inspire an employee, and how to lead so people will feel they are part of a team effort.
Having been a manager myself, as well as the leader of various organizations over the years, I don’t think there was a chapter in this book that did not resonate with me. I wish I had read this book years ago when I was struggling to motivate my employees. I know I will never forget some of Murray’s stories and examples, and I believe anyone who reads this book and takes the time to think about the questions and be introspective about his or her leadership skills will discover how to apply them to his own benefit and that of everyone he interacts with from employees to customers, to his own family.
Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of the award-winning “Narrow Lives”