Preview excerpts from Changing Your Equation and get a sneak peek of what you can learn from this leadership guide.

Chapter 1 Relationships

Our relationships either help us to reach our ideal future or hold us back. In developing your personal leadership to change your equation, you must develop the ability to acknowledge, accept, and act on the difference between who is really adding value to

your life factors and who is sucking the life out of you. It is time to foster positive interactions and eliminate those who wear you down.

Think of it this way: Have you ever seen kids at the mall who are determined to go up the down escalator? They climb and climb and end up in the same place. Then the trouble begins. Older folks yell at them. Their parents yell at them. Security yells at them. What seemed like fun turns out to be a lot of wasted energy, a lot of effort, and no forward progress. If they had just gotten on the escalator that was moving in the direction they wanted to go, they would have gotten there with far less effort and far fewer problems.

Our relationships are like that escalator. They can either move us forward or hold us back. Which would you prefer?

Of course, since you’re reading this book, we assume you want to move forward…

Chapter 2 Values and Ethics

Put yourself in this scenario: A person approaches you on the street and offers you a large, life-changing sum of money if you can quickly answer two personal questions. No strings attached. Provide the answers, and the money is yours. If you can’t do it, the person will just take the money and try to find someone else. The only rules are that there is no hesitation allowed—no “ums” or “I don’t knows”—and taking time to think isn’t allowed either. Your answers must be clear, concise, and quickly stated. Sounds like it’s at least worth a shot, right? After all, it is a life-changing amount of money. You should be able to do this, shouldn’t you?

Here are the questions: Declare your values and state your ethics. All you have to do is succinctly list what you value the most, describe the standards you hold yourself and others to, and explain how you choose to act toward people. Could you do it? Does your mind go blank? Would you be able to find the right words in that brief moment?

Chapter 3 Education and Lifelong Learning

When you graduated from high school, it was time to determine where to go next. There were so many roads to choose. They all had the appeal that the first taste of freedom and impending adulthood promises. Which road did you take? Did you choose college, military/public service, a trade school, or going right to work? It is very likely the decisions you made are not the ones that are going to lead to your ideal future. Somewhere along the way, what you thought you wanted turned out to be far from what you needed now. When you made your choice, did you really understand the impact it would have on your future?

Regardless of the choice made then, there are always opportunities to grow and learn something new. To develop personal leadership, you must establish patterns and habits for yourself through many forms of learning. You have to come into alignment, plan for the ceiling, and embrace lifelong learning. You have to find what works for you and what will help to fulfill your vision of an ideal future.

Chapter 4 Your Finances

It seems like there is always something keeping you from getting ahead. It may be a medical bill, a car repair, an unexpected home improvement, or any other unforeseen expense. The financial balancing act takes so much time and energy. The stress builds and builds, and you find yourself wishing for more money. If you had more, then you really wouldn’t have to worry.

Is more money really the answer, though? Would it take all of your worries away? It might be a temporary fix, especially when those payment due dates are looming. You might even think it is more than temporary, and more money would solve all of your

problems. In most cases, however, money isn’t the ultimate answer. The majority of people will have to make do with what they have or what they can realistically expect. While you can have a goal of accumulating all the money you could ever want, this goal is often overly lofty and rarely obtainable, leading to disappointment and financial dysfunction. The ultimate goal needs to be creating a leadership approach to your personal financial element.

Financial leadership is understanding you are striving to have all you need, not all you want…

Chapter 5 Your Career

Most people don’t think of their career as a launchpad, but it is the final piece of the life element factor. After all, unless you’re independently wealthy, you need to work for the income. The idea, though, is to look beyond the paycheck. You spend a good portion of your adult life and waking hours at work. Your career has an economic, social, emotional, mental, and even physical impact on your world. If you aren’t on the right trajectory at work, it becomes nearly impossible to be on the path to your ideal future.

Your ideal future should be a lofty destination, and the journey there should be filled with happiness, joy, and pride. Now think of your career: What do you feel? Have you aimed high? Are you enjoying the benefits of reaching those heights, or are you are going nowhere because you’re in an endless cycle of being unfulfilled, unhappy, and uninspired?

Chapter 6 The Reality of You

Think about a recent phenomenon that has taken hold not only in our country but also in many parts of the world. It is something that has spread across people of all ages, economic backgrounds, and cultures. There are even products that have been introduced as a direct result of this movement. If you haven’t guessed yet, we are talking about the selfie. From presidents to celebrities, from the Pope to average people, it has become commonplace to turn the camera toward oneself. It goes beyond just taking the picture—selfies are then shared across many outlets. It has become a new form of communication with its own applications, such as Snapchat, to encourage the use of self-images.

When people post a selfie, they are posting an image they are trying to portray. Oftentimes it is a reflection of how they have been influenced by the media and the entertainment world. They are trying to give the audience a view of how they fit the cultural norm. In the end, however, it is just an image, and probably doesn’t reflect true reality. In posing for the perfect shot, what they are really doing is hiding the twenty other pictures they took while trying to get the perfect one. In looking at the reality of you, we have to view all of those pictures. The real you is the picture of you with your eyes closed or hair that isn’t strategically placed. To determine what your ideal future should be, you have to determine who you are and what is even realistically possible.

In discovering “The Reality of You,” you’re looking past your image into your strengths and weaknesses, your abilities and restrictions, your talents and natural gifts…

Chapter 7 The Reality of Others

It’s time to turn the camera around from selfie view to look at the reality of others. It can take a great deal of time to nurture relationships to the point where the real person comes through. Success in life is built on relationships, and it is important that we try to know others as much as we try to know ourselves.

Consider this: You are a sitting at a large conference table with your peers, your friends, even your family. It doesn’t matter who is there, as long as they play a part in your world. As you’re sitting there, an outsider comes in and puts a colorfully wrapped package in the center of the table. Everyone starts to wonder what is inside. One person might think it is a set of keys for a car he desperately needs. Someone else imagines it to be the diamond engagement ring she has waited so long for. The group all starts to talk about how sure they are it is something they want or need. Even you join in and begin to consider all the possibilities that are close to your heart. Heated discussions might even ensue as all assembled want that package to be for them.

People become convinced that the gift contains their want or wish, and they have little regard for the reality of others. It can even get to the point where hostility takes hold and feelings are hurt. But here’s the secret: until the wrappings come off, everyone is right. We are all allowed to have our personal opinions. Real leaders accept this and help the group see that all viewpoints are valid. When we reverse the selfie and look at others, we see their value as unique individuals.

Chapter 8 The Reality of a Leader’s World

Chances are, if you watch any programs on television, you’re aware of “reality shows.” Maybe you watch some of them and perhaps even enjoy them. Many of these shows focus on careers, lifestyles, or family dynamics. Every network seems to have its own version, which it runs over and over. However, if you really look at these shows from a leader’s perspective, you know there is nothing real about them.

In developing your personal leadership, you need to understand that leaders don’t subscribe to the philosophies depicted in the context of a program designed to draw viewers in, with the intent to increase ratings and personal wealth. Your real focus needs to be on finding fulfillment in the development of your own personal ideal future. As personal leaders, we find that our lives and actions are often the exact opposite of what is portrayed in reality television. To live in the world of a leader’s reality, we must act by building others up instead of tearing them down. We must avoid acting with vengeance or self-pity; we must act with generosity, not greed.

In accepting these conditions, we must also be aware that it is very likely the many people we come into contact with will have their view of reality skewed by what they have been watching day in and day out. For far too many, the unreal world has been adopted as the real world. It is time to put a stop to it. Begin by changing the channel to Leadership TV.

Chapter 9 Be Your Own Entrepreneur

Who do you picture when someone mentions the word entrepreneur? Do you think about super successful and highly visible businesspeople like Steve Jobs, Sir Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, or anyone else who started with very little and built a vast empire? Maybe your mind recalls something about the teenage entrepreneur who became a millionaire from a problem he wanted to solve or small-business owners who have achieved local success. All of these represent facets of entrepreneurship and are valid references. Usually, these individuals have managed to make something out of seemingly nothing. Yet there is one more type of entrepreneur that hardly ever comes to mind: you! Have you ever considered that you, yourself, are the entrepreneur of your own life?

Chapter 10 Brand Your Future

When you’re asked to think of a brand, do you think of Apple, Nike, Starbucks, or another of the millions of commercial brands in the world today? Whichever you just chose, chances are you are attracted to it because the company has spent countless hours and dollars developing and promoting a particular message. It has cultivated a certain appeal that is drawing you to name that particular brand.

Can you articulate your personal brand as well and as clearly as those commercial companies? How much time and effort have you spent cultivating it? Managing your personal brand is strikingly similar to managing a large commercial enterprise. In actively managing your personal brand, you are creating a magnetic force with positive and negative components. You must embrace the concept that a brand is a powerful change agent that will help you reach your ideal future.

Chapter 11 Choose between the Tide of Negativity and the Current of Growth

How often do we see children who have experienced pain become terrified of the source afterward? It may be something as simple as soap in their eyes from a bath, a bee sting, or a shot at the doctor’s office. Anything that causes injury, no matter how big or small, becomes a source of anxiety and stress. Because of the fear that has built up, the smallest pinprick becomes inflated to the point of absolute hysterics. After much cajoling, many bribes, and even a few threats, the injury is over—usually with the parent saying; “See, that wasn’t so bad!” The child shuffles away, usually sniffling, refusing to acknowledge that it was anything but complete torture.

As we grow into adulthood, while the lingering memory may remain, we have learned that pain is fleeting because we understand the cause. As we matured, so did our understanding that a little pain from a shot prevented us from a much more serious illness. Even more ironic, as grown-ups we become the ones who end up saying, “See, that wasn’t so bad.” Unfortunately, the same may not be said about the more complex situations we face as adults.

The more we experience in life, the more it impacts our perspective. It is very natural for us to take something bad that may have happened once and project it forward to something that will always occur. It becomes a trap from which we cannot escape.

Even more alarming is that we allow this negative energy to get more and more swept up in the issues of those around us. As we complain and gripe, they feel open to do the same. Their wars become our battles and vice versa. The more we allow ourselves to be caught up in the tide of negativity, the more it takes our focus away from our ideal future.

Chapter 12 Follow Financial Stepping-Stones

In chapter 4, you began the process of taking a reading of your financial life element. Now, as promised, it is time to put it to use and develop stepping-stones as a financial change agent. Your financial health has major implications for your ability to reach your ideal future. This aspect of personal leadership is a powerful change agent you must employ to reach your fullest potential.

Let’s make an important distinction about the journey. The goal is not to become rich. The end result is about becoming financially well. Get used to hearing the term financial wellness.” Based on the number of apps, devices, and health food stores popping up everywhere, our society has become far more focused on the importance of physical wellness. Now the time has come for us to reach the same level of engagement with our financial wellness.

Chapter 13 Climb the Belief Ladder to Find Your Sense of Purpose

Have you ever seen the daredevils who walk tightropes across canyons, waterfalls, or even skyscrapers? Something within them says to step out on the wire, and they know they will make it to the other side. They have a confidence that isn’t arrogant, and many times they don’t even view themselves as daredevils. This is just something they do. It seems so extraordinary that these tightrope walkers can accomplish these feats while some people fear climbing a ladder.

What makes them so different that they are willing to take such risks? They believe in themselves. They believe in their equipment. They believe in their support team. Some have even publically stated just how much they believe in a higher power. As a personal leader, one who is striving for an ideal future, you too must allow yourself to believe.

Unlike the tightrope walkers, many people are locked in a trench of self-doubt, self-deprecation, and cynicism. Being trapped in this mind-set doesn’t allow the development of a personal sense of purpose. The sense of purpose, which stems from our beliefs, will guide us to where we need to let ourselves go. It allows the broader perspective of the higher power of faith, hope, and love to shine through. While not everything you want in life may be obtainable, consider how little you will achieve if you don’t even try to believe it is possible.

Chapter 14 Live Your Legacy Now

There is a huge difference between simply leaving something behind and giving the world exactly the gifts you intended. Your legacy should be founded on intentions: your intentions. Should it be your intention to simply leave behind what you have left over from your life, money, and material possessions? Would it not be better to be proactive and have the intention to gift yourself to the world as you live each day?

As you answer these questions, legacy actually becomes a change agent, but this is unique in that you can use all the other factors to create it. Managing your legacy allows you to fully understand the course you set for yourself and how you will be able to view your life when it is time to leave it.

When people have meaning, people have joy. Think about the life you will live as your legacy; it’s not just what you will leave behind. A legacy is about you, those close to you, and even your impact on the greater world.

Chapter 15 Your Ideal Future

Throughout this book, we have pushed you to look inward at your life elements, realities, and change agents. In the end, however, changing your equation comes down to not only finding the joy, meaning, and purpose in your life but also activating it and putting it into real action.

In identifying and striving for your ideal future, you will come to realize that the promises of life need to be fulfilled…