Book Review: Absolute Impact

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Absolute Impact
by Matthew May

Peloton ©2003
273 pages

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The Drive for Personal Leadership

Leadership consultant Matthew May has looked beyond the standard discussions and lessons about organizational leadership and discovered a deeper essence that leaders must embrace to become successful. Instead of listing a number of how-tos and bulleted points that describe the steps leaders must take to get the job done, May has taken a more philosophical approach to leadership. Instead of embracing or challenging the strategies and tactics of the modern business gurus who currently dominate the field, or even challenging their approaches, May seeks guidance from earlier sources. Who does he turn to for leadership inspiration? In Absolute Impact, May reaches back 2,500 years to the lessons of Plato to guide him to a higher level of leadership.

May has written a fable that challenges leaders to question their roles and look into themselves for answers about who they are and what they need to do to achieve their goals. By asking deep questions about the meaning of life and each person’s role in shaping his or her own destiny, May’s story opens up layer after layer of human nature to reveal one’s true calling.

His story is based on an elderly prince who is nearing the end of his life and who wants to ensure that his son, Maximus, will be able to satisfy his own true calling to accomplish his life’s greatest work. In a discussion with three of his advisers, each embodying a different human nature and style of thinking, he reveals the questions all leaders must ask and the answers that can bring them to the application of crucial leadership concepts.

A Continuum of Variation

May, through the wisdom espoused by his sagacious prince, describes the process of seeking leadership wisdom and points out that the best way to do it is to look for the differences between the leaders who are recognized for their achievements, and not their common denominators. Although every successful leader had a plan, May points out that, since their circumstances were unique to that leader’s situation, more can be learned by studying the leader than the leader’s process. His prince explains, “Rather, we must discern patterns in a continuum of variation, delineate the dimensions of common uniqueness, and construct our model thusly.”

As the courtiers in May’s fable learn from their prince, “everyone, regardless of their station or situation, is in a position to truly lead — lead themselves as well as others — in their work, and in their personal lives, and to do so with uncommon excellence.”

While May’s prince and his courtiers wrestle with the deeper meanings of leadership, in the same way that Plato and Socrates ponder the deeper meaning of justice and truth in Plato’s Republic, May presents the lessons they reveal in brief sidebars that accompany most of the pages of Absolute Impact. These short summaries of the knowledge that transpires in the page’s text serve as helpful reminders of the learning taking place within his characters. By providing these guideposts throughout his fable, May provides readers with constant reminders of the deeper meaning of the dialogue that transpires, including these three primary truths:

• To release your personal energy through creative engagement in meaningful work, you must learn to GOVERN YOUR GIFTS!

• To make the most positive difference in the lives of others, you must learn to SHARE YOUR STRENGTHS!

• To create a new reality and accomplish all you envision, you must learn to ANCHOR YOUR AMBITION!

A Universal Pathway

These three principles serve as a universal pathway on which all leaders can challenge themselves, according to May’s prince. To realize absolute impact, May writes, all three self-driven strategies must be well executed, and the key to success lies in how these strategies are applied.

Once May’s leadership fable is complete, he offers several tools that can make the knowledge he has revealed grow and thrive in those who have taken his lessons to heart. These tools include 27 evaluativequestions and activities that can be used over the course of a year to help leaders properly examine and discover their gifts, purpose and ambition. ~

Why We Like This Book
Absolute Impact presents a unique look at leadership and offers timeless truths about it in a thoughtful, stimulating story that embodies the search on which everyone must set out to discover his or her inner strengths. May’s thorough knowledge of philosophical discourse and its ability to transmit deeper meaning makes this a fascinating read. ~

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