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Book Review: ‘Leadership Built On Why: One Simple Idea That Will Revolutionize the Leadership Paradigm and Transform Your Life!’ by Anni Keffer

There are plenty of books about leadership. But not enough offer practical, inspiring strategies for young adults. Enter Anni Keffer, author of Leadership Built On Why: One Simple Idea That Will Revolutionize the Leadership Paradigm and Transform Your Life! This is a book that’s tailor-made for young people with a desire and a drive to make a difference. It offers a powerful welcome combination of inspiration and practical advice, peppered with true-life stories and iconic quotes, cheerily framed for younger readers.

Keffer is an expert coach on youth leadership who has spoken before countless audiences — high schools, youth groups, television, radio — and she’s riveting proof that youth shouldn’t be an impediment to leading. She argues that what’s standing in the way of so many young leaders isn’t age — they’re not too young to step up and make a difference.

What’s in their way are the lies and myths about needing more experience, maturity, or professional credibility. Not so, says Keffer, the world needs them now. Given the powerful testimony of young women as part of #metoo, and the impassioned pleas of high schoolers calling for gun control, she’s got a point.

The book is a roadmap for finding one’s own purpose — what Keffer calls our “why” — and learning how to leverage it into an incredible tool to inspire others and create change. That sense of purpose is the essence of what keeps leaders focused no matter the adversity. And as Keffer notes, even the most natural-born leaders will be tested at some point. It’s how they hold fast to their beliefs that gets them through.

Leadership Based on Why will certainly appeal to a whole range of readers, whether directly ambitious or simply hopeful. It’s filled with support and wisdom for those who keep themselves on the sidelines, dreaming quietly of a chance to captain a great effort or run for student body president.

Keffer speaks from her own experience — too often, she was told to pipe down, to keep her opinions to herself — and she had to fight for the right to speak up. “Did I have everyone on my side, rooting for me? I wish I could say yes,” she writes in her candid and inspiring introduction. “But there were plenty of skeptics and naysayers out there, just waiting to tell me that I wasn’t enough.” Thankfully, she persisted.

The book is organized like a ladder: encouraging the reader to take a self-discovery climb up well-focused chapters such as “We versus Me” — which offers a clear path to learning how to help others; and “Hang Tough When You’ve Had Enough” — about overcoming criticism, frustration and exhaustion and digging in. Keffer has included well-designed worksheets and exercises throughout to help readers better identify their own beliefs and sense of purpose. There are plenty of questions and answers, insights and sayings: whatever page a reader turns to, chances are there’s a nugget of insight or a terrific idea.

A key message in the book is that traditions and the status quo aren’t necessarily better than finding a new way to think and act. Instead, take courage that there is a whole new territory outside of those norms, and honor your own vision no matter how different it is.

As evidence of what can happen when a person commits to her or his dreams, the book is filled with compelling stories of leaders young and old from a whole range of fields. Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, Malcom Gladwell, Judy Garland and a constellation of public figures, newsmakers and trailblazers also make their appearance. It’s certainly good company. But it’s also highly likely that some of the best company are among the readers of this book: promising young leaders, just about to discover how remarkable they really are, and then get to work, changing the world for the better.

For more about Anni Keffer, visit her website

About Patricia Gale

Patricia Gale has written and ghostwritten hundreds of blogs and articles that have appeared on sites such as Psychology Today, Forbes, and Huffington Post, and in countless national newspapers and magazines. Her "beat" is health, business, career, self-help, parenting, and relationships.

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