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H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle

Compiled by Chuck Olson

Title: H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle.

Author: Brad Lomenick

Copyright Date: 2015

I like how ­­­­author, consultant, and speaker Brad Lomenick thinks about leadership. It resonates. It inspires. It hits the mark.

His recent book, H3 Leadership: Be Humble, Stay Hungry, Always Hustle, is a Costco-like warehouse filled with leadership insights. It also is stacked to the rafters with one-liners that are memorable, but more importantly, substantive. Here are a few:

  • The best leadership moments will probably be the ones that nobody sees.
  • Make sure your character outdistances your competency.
  • Live as though you’ll die tomorrow, and learn as though you’ll live forever.
  • Hope is a suggestion, but vision is a declaration of a preferred future.
  • The best ideas come out of the kiln of disagreement and discernment.
  • Want to change? Create habits in your life. Want to be a better leader? Establish leadership habits.
  • Be the varsity version of you, not the junior varsity version of someone else.
  • Your sense of identity will help determine your scale of influence. Ignore it at your own peril.

Check out these BookNotes to get a more complete overview of what Lomenick has to say about your life as a leader.

Book Overview:

In his new book H3 LEADERSHIP: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle., Brad Lomenick shares his hard-earned insights from more than two decades of work alongside thought-leaders such as Jim Collins and Malcolm Gladwell, Fortune 500 CEOs and start-up entrepreneurs. He categorizes 20 essential leadership habits organized into three distinct filters he calls “the 3 Hs”: Humble (Who am I?), Hungry (Where do I want to go?) and Hustle (How will I get there?). These powerful words describe the leader who is willing to work hard, get it done, and make sure it’s not about him or her; the leader who knows that influence is about developing the right habits for success. Lomenick provides a simple but effective guide on how to lead well in whatever capacity the reader may be in.

Book Quotes:

Leading is difficult, and anyone who has been in a position of authority or influence for very long knows this. It’s hard work. But leadership is more than hard work; it is habitual work. It is worked out every day in the tasks we complete, the ways we approach our work, and the rhythms we nurture in our lives. It hangs on the hooks of the patterns we create, not just the success we may stumble upon. LOCATION: 210

In my experience too few leaders recognize the importance of habits in life. One researcher at Duke University, for example, found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits. When you rise in the morning, nearly half of your day will be determined by the patterns you’ve either intentionally created or passively allowed. LOCATION: 215

I’ve had the privilege of working with the best and most respected leaders in America, and almost all of them share a common set of characteristics. They are principled and passionate, courageous and capable, hopeful and authentic, called and collaborative. But that leaves us with a lingering question: How did they get there? The path to being a better leader is paved with the asphalt of the habits we develop. LOCATION: 218

There’s no avoiding it: the patterns we cultivate shape the person we each become. LOCATION: 248

Life is about decisions. If you want to change, make a decision. Decisions build habits. LOCATION: 251

Habits take an idea and convert it into results. A habit is a practice shaped by behavior or daily action that helps turn ideals into action, principles into practice, and concepts into concrete. Habits allow for someone to actually implement ideas that last into his or her life. Leadership for the long haul comes from implementing regular, daily practices into your leadership journey. Habits create standard operating procedures in your life and are the fuel to get to the finish line. LOCATION: 252

Want to change? Create habits in your life. Want to be a better leader? Establish leadership habits. LOCATION: 256

Habits create sustainable action out of chaotic energy. LOCATION: 259

Every temptation is an opportunity for transformation. LOCATION: 279

Typing furiously, I listed the most important habits under each of my mantra’s three categories:


  • Self-Discovery: Know who you are
  • Openness: Share the real you with others
  • Meekness: Remember it’s not about you
  • Conviction: Stick to your principles
  • Faith: Prioritize your day so God is first
  • Assignment: Live out your calling


  • Ambition: Develop an appetite for what’s next
  • Curiosity: Keep learning
  • Passion: Love what you do
  • Innovation: Stay current, creative, and engaged
  • Inspiration: Nurture a vision for a better tomorrow
  • Bravery: Take calculated risks


  • Excellence: Set standards that scare you
  • Stick-with-it-ness: Take the long view
  • Execution: Commit to completion
  • Team Building: Create an environment that attracts and retains the best and brightest
  • Partnership: Collaborate with colleagues and competitors
  • Margin: Nurture healthier rhythms
  • Generosity: Leave the world a better place
  • Succession: Find power in passing the baton


Better traits are the desired destination, but better habits are the road map. LOCATION: 310

After all, becoming a better leader begins with building better habits. LOCATION: 317

Developing a habit of self-discovery means creating intentional rhythms whereby one observes who he is, listens to his life, and strives to define himself apart from his professional assignments. LOCATION: 351

Your sense of identity will help determine your scale of influence. Ignore it at your own peril. LOCATION: 379

Once you feel you have discovered your identity, you’ve probably changed. So self-discovery is not a practice you complete, but a posture you cultivate. LOCATION: 391

Your identity is not what you do. It’s who you are. And identity always comes before activity. LOCATION: 422

But whatever you do, schedule identity-discovering exercises into the rhythms of your life. If you aren’t intentional about identity, you’ll ignore it. And you are too important to overlook. LOCATION: 425

Nicky Gumbel, the vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton in London and founder of the Alpha Course, tweeted, “You can teach what you know, but you will reproduce what you are.” LOCATION: 427

So how do we increase self-awareness? Slow down! Awareness increases as speed decreases. Most of us use the speed of life to medicate ourselves and ignore the major issues we’re facing internally. LOCATION: 476

Leaders can easily forget that people follow them, in large part, because of who they are. So you should own it. Yet, the higher one climbs the ladder of influence and power, the more difficult it is to be open. Ladder climbing typically leads to power tripping, which leads to a loss of influence. LOCATION: 506

Your realness will attract the next generation way more than your relevancy. People would rather follow a leader who is always real versus a leader who is always right. Don’t try to be a perfect leader, just work on being an authentic one. LOCATION: 519

The more influence you gain and the more you have to lose, the less likely you are to be vulnerable and share your own struggles. We impress people through our strengths, but we truly connect with people through our weaknesses and areas of struggle. LOCATION: 565

No one else is as much you as you are. Rather than covering up our worst parts and exaggerating our best parts, we should allow the unique mix of both to make us distinct and give us personality. Be the varsity version of you, not the junior varsity version of someone else. LOCATION: 578

Embrace who you are, and even as you work to refine and improve that person, learn to share yourself with those around you. A habit of openness will help you feel freer and lead more effectively. LOCATION: 586

Meekness is not weakness. It’s power under control. It’s ambition grounded with humility and lived out in confidence, not arrogance. LOCATION: 660

Brian Houston says the platform, the stage, the bright lights, the accolades will destroy you if you haven’t properly built a foundation on the realization that it’s not about you. The platform should be for service, not for stardom. Never act as if you’ve arrived. New York Giants head football coach Tom Coughlin reminds his players, “[Be] humble enough to prepare, [and] confident enough to perform.” LOCATION: 679

Humble leaders make it about others, and always stay approachable. LOCATION: 691

The best leaders are people of integrity and principle who know the difference between principles and preferences. They are willing to stand up for the right things and stand against the wrong things. These leaders value their reputations, their consciences, and their values. LOCATION: 746

Your public platform, influence, and impact require internal faithfulness, quiet confidence, and consistent wisdom. The best leadership moments will probably be the ones that nobody sees. LOCATION: 749

A habit of conviction means doing what is right instead of doing what is easy. And the further you go and the higher you climb in your leadership journey, the harder this gets. Talent and ability may help you get to the top, but it takes character and integrity to stay there. The depth of your character will determine the vertical depth and horizontal reach of your influence. The further and faster your influence extends, the deeper your foundation of character and conviction must be. Public service requires private submission. Deep roots allow for further reach. LOCATION: 759

Your reputation is not for sale. Protect it at all costs. It takes years to build but only seconds to lose. LOCATION: 782

IF YOU SAY YOU’LL DO IT, THEN DO IT. Even if it costs you. The value of a promise has plummeted in modern society. Don’t contribute to its devaluation. Be a man or woman of your word. Trust is the foundation and bond of credibility. A great reputation means nothing unless you execute and fulfill the latest promise to your customer. LOCATION: 796

Make sure your character outdistances your competency. LOCATION: 804

Build who you are off the stage and behind the stage and beside the stage way before you start thinking about getting on the stage. LOCATION: 819

Many leaders I meet, consult with, and coach have never nurtured habits of spiritual discipline. The more one succeeds, the busier one gets. And the busier one gets, the harder it is to nurture spiritual vitality. But those who want to be change makers must stoke a hunger for God’s Word, prayer, journaling, service, and a lifestyle (rather than a once-per-week act) of worship. To maximize their influence, leaders must develop a habit of placing God first, not last. LOCATION: 907

Those who aren’t a part of a church can easily become inwardly focused and risk developing a selfish spirituality. LOCATION: 946

Every leader, no matter how old or accomplished, should regularly reflect on his or her calling. LOCATION: 993

Many people conflate calling with identity. They confuse who they are with what they are made to do. While the two are connected, they are not the same. Identity is who you are, but calling is how you express that. Calling is your purpose. It is your guiding light. It is the string that connects our dots and allows us to feel fulfilled. It is, according to one of the most widely accepted definitions, where your deepest passions and your greatest strengths intersect. LOCATION: 995

There is a marked difference between a calling and an assignment, and failing to recognize it is a one-way ticket to the frustration station. LOCATION: 1017

One of my rules for leadership is “Beware your greatest strength.” Why? Because often an influencer’s unguarded greatest strength is also his or her greatest weakness—and therefore turns into his or her greatest temptation. Your best can bring you down. LOCATION: 1119

Developing a healthy habit of ambition is one of the most important tasks of every leader. LOCATION: 1141

Every leader must force himself or herself to keep learning regardless of his or her stage of life or career. Change makers lean in, shift their weight forward, and stay hungry even when coasting is infinitely easier. If you’re not learning, you’re not leading to your full potential. Hall of fame college basketball coach John Wooden said, “A leader who is through learning is through. And so is the team such a leader leads. It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” LOCATION: 1292

As Claude Levi-Strauss commented, “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.” Questions are critical to curiosity. Asking great questions keeps you informed, in touch, and aware. LOCATION: 1306

Live as though you’ll die tomorrow, and learn as though you’ll live forever. Have an insatiable appetite for learning. An urgency that is almost annoying. Seek knowledge as though you thirst for it. LOCATION: 1342

If you’re not growing, you’re not going. If you’re not learning, you’re not leading. And while it is great to be interesting, it’s more important to be interested. Stay curious. LOCATION: 1350

Leaders should be as passionate about their life’s work as they are their top sports team or favorite pastime. LOCATION: 1388

Leaders can’t inspire others unless and until they are inspired themselves. LOCATION: 1394

Your team feeds off your energy, for better or worse. Your passion gives permission to those around you to express theirs. You may have to push, pull, kick, or gently nudge people, but part of your responsibility as a leader is to show up, every day, with a level of energy, passion, and enthusiasm that elevates your attitude toward constant positivity. You don’t have a choice. Leaders are organizational health risks or assets. You’ve got to love it and live it if you’re going to lead it! LOCATION: 1405

The reason certain groups and organizations are ultimately more creative than others is that their leaders are intentional when it comes to creating environments where creativity can flourish. It is not because their CEO or department heads were born creative. Innovation is up to you. LOCATION: 1497

A leader is a change agent. He or she changes the order of things and pushes for change. Leadership is not about title or position or a corner office or a big budget. Or power. Leaders imagine a different future and change the order of things, regardless of title or position. LOCATION: 1501

Innovation is the opposite of average. It is refusing to coast, rejecting the status quo, and having the courage to shake up the meaningless routines that lead to laziness. LOCATION: 1518

The first step to developing this habit is realizing that innovation in part has nothing to do with you; rather, it is determined by those you have around you. LOCATION: 1522

When you innovate, don’t idolize or your most imaginative ventures will cannibalize your creativity. LOCATION: 1554

Creativity can be exhausting because it is not an act, but a process. LOCATION: 1567

Failure is crucial for innovation to actually become second nature for a team. If you’re not failing, you’re not risking enough. Give yourself and those around you permission to make mistakes. LOCATION: 1623

People need to be motivated, and casting a vision that propels them forward is one of the first and central tasks of a leader. LOCATION: 1688

Great leaders have double vision. It is focused like a microscope, but is far-reaching like a telescope. You must have both. Make sure your vision statement focuses on the now but yearns for what is next and possible. LOCATION: 1707

Hope is a suggestion, but vision is a declaration of a preferred future. LOCATION: 1808

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Choose courage over comfort. Today you may just need to step out and step up and step in and step over. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way: “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” LOCATION: 1890

As a leader, uncertainty is part of your job description. If it weren’t, your company could replace you with a robot or an algorithm. So wherever there is uncertainty, there will always be a need for leaders. When the wind changes direction, don’t recoil. Lunge forward instead. Practice bringing calm to chaos, clarity to the unknown, and confidence to uncertain circumstances. LOCATION: 1902

Establishing a habit of excellence begins with a core commitment to set a standard that scares the daylights out of you. LOCATION: 1974

Excellence is ultimately about effort. LOCATION: 1985

Excellence is what helps a leader and an organization move from competent to exceptional, from good enough to soaring heights. LOCATION: 1997

The best ideas come out of the kiln of disagreement and discernment. LOCATION: 2033

Bobby Knight, the one-time winningest coach in men’s college basketball, once said, “It has always been my thought that the most important single ingredient to success in athletics or life is discipline. I have many times felt that this word is the most ill-defined in all of our language. My definition of the word is as follows: 1. Do what has to be done; 2. When it has to be done; 3. As well as it can be done; and 4. Do it that way all the time.” LOCATION: 2165

Unbending disciplines often lead to self-loathing, but flexible discipline will lead to self-control. LOCATION: 2195

So commit today to establishing the necessary disciplines you need to push ahead where you’ve been planted. Commit to the nitty-gritty, to the daily grind, to the small and big. Keep walking steadfastly in the mundane, knowing that our faithfulness in the ordinary often leads to the extraordinary. LOCATION: 2219

It doesn’t matter how much of a race you run if you don’t cross the finish line. Similarly, unfinished projects might as well never have been started. LOCATION: 2271

In fact, I would suggest that in today’s leadership climate, no other habit is more important than execution. Anyone can come up with a new idea, concept, or marketing plan. Ideas are overrated. What truly matters is whether you can take an idea from concept to completion. Whether you can carry the ball all the way down the field and cross the goal line. Everyone is required to execute and take projects from start to finish. It’s a non-nonnegotiable in the new economy of leadership. LOCATION: 2275

If you’re a feeler or perceiver or creative, you will need to work harder at developing a habit of execution. LOCATION: 2297

Take initiative to see the problem or issue through to the very end. Creating is hard work, so help create an action-leaning culture by working your guts out. Sweat equity is often the number one ingredient in success. Action creates traction, and impact comes from forward motion. Underwhelm with your words, but always overwhelm with your actions. LOCATION: 2325

Leadership is a choice, not a position. Be the leader you wish you had. A title or position doesn’t automatically make you a leader. Influence makes you a leader. Forced followership doesn’t count. People follow the person, not the position. LOCATION: 2411

Note: should you wish to find any quote in its original context, the Kindle “location” is provided after each entry.

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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