Elias Kanaris, longtime entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and a former presidential candidate in New Zealand, did not begin his life easily. He grew up in a household where his father called him an idiot, and he went to a school where his teachers predicted not only failure but life in prison for his future. But Elias turned his life around, and in his new book Liberating Your Leadership Potential, he shows readers how they can also change the self-limiting beliefs that keep them in their own mental prisons.
Each chapter of this dynamic book contains Elias’ personal stories of how he overcame obstacles, dealt with his personal shortcomings, and ultimately learned how to lead others to success. He also includes exercises in each chapter for readers so they can track their progress in overcoming their own obstacles to reach their goals, and he concludes always with a story taken from Nelson Mandela’s life to illustrate the chapter’s theme.
While I was impressed with Elias’ stories of his career, including his public speaking and running to be President of New Zealand, I instantly felt a bond with him when he discussed how he worked for a telecom company and ran a call center, something I did myself for several years. In fact, managing a call center is just about the most stressful job I would never wish on anyone. However, yet Elias saw it as a privilege because it allowed him to get to know the employees who worked for him, to inspire them, and also to learn from them. In short, his attitude impressed me.
Nor was that the only time Elias impressed me; throughout these pages, he shows his integrity, making me believe that he stands by what he says. One such example was in a story where he went on sales calls with a coworker. They stopped at a gas station, where the coworker decided to shoplift some candy—Elias saw what happened, but he was too shocked to say anything until they were outside.
Then he confronted his coworker, who refused to return the stolen goods and felt no remorse. Elias returned inside the gas station and paid for the item himself. He also soon after ended his working relationship with the person.
If I detailed every story in this book, it would spoil it for readers, but what is more important than the stories is that each chapter is focused on one of the keys to leadership. Those twenty-one keys include: Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership, Walking in Your Client’s Shoes, Leading from the Front, Allowing People to Make Mistakes Is Good for Your Business, Giving It Over to God, and Taking Action Is Important.
I make special note of the “Giving It Over to God” key because many authors would avoid this topic, but Elias is not only a Christian—he is a fallen away and returned one, and he does not apologize for his religious beliefs that inform his values and actions.
The recurrence of the Nelson Mandela stories and quotes throughout the book offers additional inspiration and an excellent model of leadership to the reader. Many of the stories focus on Mandela’s time in prison—how he learned to survive, to maintain his sanity and good character, help his fellow prisoners, forgive those who hurt him, and take responsibility or learn from his experiences when he made mistakes. I loved how Elias compared Mandela’s real prison experience to the self-created prisons that many of us live in.
Liberating Your Leadership Potential is filled with stories that can benefit anyone. Whether it’s dealing with family crises, difficult family members, being a business leader, learning from your mistakes, or just trying to figure out what to do next to improve your life, there’s something for everyone in this book. I encourage readers to do the exercises, revisit the chapters that best apply to them, avail themselves of the free resources in the back, and discover the leadership potential that lies within them; now Elias has provided the keys to unlock and liberate it.
For more information about Elias Kanaris and Liberating Your Leadership Potential, visit the author’s website.