Do something great quote on a black background to spur you to observe, learn and change in order to win.

My Top 3 Leadership Lessons

It’s funny how we can learn lessons that don’t resonate consciously until years later. I have written before about a lifelong lesson I learned as a mixed-up kid at a week-long cheerleading camp. But recently I have realized it wasn’t just that one lesson. There are three significant lessons that impact my life and others daily that all came from that same week.

It took years of mistakes and maturing to bring those lessons back to the surface of my conscious mind and actions, but I am so grateful for how they never really left me. And it is fun to see how what drives me today was planted in me when my wounded and confused younger self had no idea the impact of that one significant week.

That week we were so excited. Our team was doing our very best to get the points needed to take back a Spirit Stick for our school. At the end of the day, despite some exceptional performances, we didn’t have one point toward that stick. In the dorms that night we talked and griped and pondered WHY! We knew our performance had been good. We couldn’t figure it out. So, we determined the next day to watch and see what the people getting the points were doing that we weren’t.

And you know what we saw?

They were cheering! For the other teams performing! For us!

We decided to give it a try and started cheering for the other teams as hard and loud and spirited as we cheered when we were performing. It was fun. Our attitudes shifted. We were happy for our new friends that were doing well. Instead of competition being our enemy, it became our friend. And the better it got, the better it challenged us to be. An added bonus was we started getting points toward that Spirit Stick!

Side note: My own personal WHY showed up in that process, too. The WHY.os Discovery (email me about that if you haven’t taken it and would like to know more) helped pinpoint that making sense of things is my WHY. HOW I do that is by simplifying what seems complicated or confusing. And WHAT that delivers is a solution that makes a real contribution that impacts lives and makes a difference. My WHY played out that week, long before anyone knew anything about a WHY Discovery. But knowing it now helps me articulate and pull together what’s always been there – so it can be lived out with intentionality.

We observed.

We learned.

We changed.

And we won.
Maybe not in the way we had set out to win. But we won lifelong lessons that have been a game changer in terms of mindset shifts and leadership perspectives. These 3 lessons stick with me from those early days.

#1 – You win when you cheer others on to win.

#2 – Sincere encouragement improves your perspective and your relationships.

#3 – If you change nothing, nothing changes.

What lessons have you learned from observing? What are you working on changing?

We can all benefit from each other’s different experiences. If I get enough responses, I will make an entire blog post with all the cool lessons people have learned. Wouldn’t that be fun! Thanks in advance for sharing!

Brenda Harkins is an Author, Speaker, Mediator, and Coach specializing in Personal, Relational and Leadership Transformation. Brenda founded Harkins Leadership Group and developed the Loud Is Not A Language® communication model, helping to build collaborative communities on foundations of trust both professionally and personally. Brenda’s passion for mining gold in people is shared with her love for God, family, good friends, good coffee, and west Texas sunsets. You can reach Brenda through or directly via email at