Recognize Your Power to Choose

After launching Master Mentors, FranklinCovey’s most recent book release based on our On Leadership podcast interviews, I’ve been privileged to be a guest on more than one hundred podcast, radio, and television interviews. A common question I’m asked by the host or interviewer is “What’s the red thread that ties them all together?”

To be completely truthful and transparent, there isn’t one. Purposefully.

I very much liked the idea of spotlighting mentors from different backgrounds and experiences, successes and failures. So much so that one of my longstanding publishers—who is otherwise very bullish on my writing, brand, and future—passed on the book. They thought it was “too episodic.” That it needed a common “red thread” or it would flop. I disagreed and talked with HarperCollins Leadership, who caught my vision and jumped onboard. Six weeks after the launch, I’m closing in on 10,000 copies sold and signing multiple deals with foreign publishers. I feel a bit vindicated/validated. (I talked with the first publisher who passed on the manuscript last week, and let’s just say they wished they’d trusted my vision on this one.)

But the more I’ve thought about the “red thread” or “through line” that connects the 30 Master Mentors, I’ve dug deeper, as the question keeps being presented to me. One commonality is clear—a requirement to be featured in the book was that you appeared on the podcast and had a “transformational insight” to share. Then beyond that was a commonality that I saw in everyone, which was an Abundance Mentality, as our co-founder Dr. Stephen R. Covey called it. A generosity to lift others, share ideas, and exercise an uncommon level of vulnerability to invite others to learn from their pitfalls and even failures.

The second commonality was an indefatigable work ethic.

This collection of mentors works extremely hard, and when they achieve a level of success and influence that most of us can’t relate to, they double down. Triple down. Recently a podcast host took offense (his word, not mine) at my suggestion that hard work alone was a key to success—to becoming a Master Mentor. In fact, he was so offended by my suggestion that he revisited the point three times during our short interview. I didn’t back off, because I genuinely believe the principle of “hard work” is a skill set. Interpret or define that however you’d like, and so will I, as I congratulate you at the finish line…inviting you onto the winners stage to join me.

Since that interview (interrogation), I’ve revisited the through line of the 30 Master Mentors several times and have challenged myself—was there a deeper commonality all or some of the mentors shared? I’ve come across one. It’s the ability to choose.

And when they choose, they say yes. And thus say no.

We read and hear about this frequently, perhaps even more so “post pandemic.” Revisiting our values. Defining what’s important to us—and what’s not any longer. How do we want to invest our time and ensure that it’s not wasted on meaningless distractions or “busywork” that perhaps eighteen months ago we would have succumbed to? The power to say no is a commonality to highly successful people and those featured in Master Mentors (I’m just grateful they said yes to me!).

Dorie Clark writes in her new Wall Street Journal bestselling book, The Long Game, how valuable recognizing our power of choice is. What we say yes and no to. And the short-term implications of our choice, as much as the long term. I think this a through line of those featured in Master Mentors. They don’t jump at every opportunity. They don’t need constant validation by accepting every offer to speak, write an article, or join an interview. They calibrate the impact of saying yes better than most of us. They calibrate the impact of saying no better than most of us.

If you’re “in it” for the long game, which we all need to be in our careers, businesses, and relationships, then you might want to revisit your decision-making criteria for your choices. Ask yourself, what’s the short-term win for me (and them), and is that worth it? Does that come at the expense of a bigger opportunity or larger impact? For them and me.

How do you make your choices? Why do you say yes or no? Do you even know?


80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities—are you focusing on the right ones? Download The 80/20 Activity Analyzer tool to be more strategic in your process and more successful in your results.

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

More Content by Scott Miller
Previous Article
My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books

After reading more than 1,500 leadership books, several have become my favorites. What they all have in com...

Next Article
Managing Risk
Managing Risk

Managing risk often requires us to be futurists but, how much of the risk in our lives are we focused on av...

80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities - are you focusing on the right ones?

Download Tool