Straight-Line Leadership

Main Takeaway

Most of us do not have clarity, focus, or simplicity in abundance and the absence affects our ability to take action, accomplish, and meet our potential.

Favorite Quote

A straight-line leader is extremely effective at solving problems in life. They solve their own problems and they assist those they lead to become adept at solving their problems as well.

Straight-Line Leadership: Tools for Living with Velocity and Power in Turbulent Times
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08/31/2023 01:02 am GMT

My Review

I had never heard about this book until it was mentioned in a marketing Q&A session with Travis Sago. I know hundreds of leadership books but had never once heard of that one.

Travis mentioned seemingly every page being dog-eared or containing some important note to refer back to.

How could a book I’ve never heard of be so important to someone? And someone I considered pretty successful.

I had to know, so I bought it and ripped right through it.

Taking Personal Responsibility

It’s been said and I’ve experienced this myself: leadership makes or breaks companies and individuals. The former is not a new concept to you or me, but I think few people realize the leadership of one’s own self means everything to how far you get in life.

You have to be whoever you need to be and take whatever actions are necessary to get the outcome you’re looking for.

But because it’s often hard, people don’t hang in there.

They stop.

Then sometimes others get blamed or individual self-esteem plummets and become who you see yourself to be. And that definitely limits your potential. If you can’t find a way to believe in yourself, few others will.

The book urges you to take charge of your thoughts, emotions, and actions as a means to assuring your success and inspire others to do the same.

Straight-Line Thinking

I’ve worked with so many people who just won’t start or who get stopped by a feather.

It all starts with deciding you’re going to do something and then taking direct, decisive action to achieve it. Some people can’t decide. Or they wait for perfect circumstances…that never roll around (according to them).

Straight-line thinking is about setting clear, measurable goals, identifying the most efficient path (that you can see at the moment) to achieving them and staying focused on the end result.

Sounds simple, but look around and you’ll see less straight-line thinking than you would expect.


Someone said, “A goal without a plan is a dream.” Somewhere in there is the idea of commitment which often goes missing.

Committing fully to one’s goals and taking consistent action to make them a reality is as essential as identifying the most efficient path.

The book encourages readers to cultivate a strong sense of purpose and passion and to align their actions with their values and vision.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is a key component of leadership.

The book provides practical tips and strategies for improving communication skills; emphasizing the importance of active listening, clarity, and authenticity.

Continuous Learning and Growth

The book stresses that true leadership involves ongoing learning and development.

It encourages readers to adopt a growth mindset, seek out new experiences and challenges, and be open to feedback and constructive criticism.

I’d like to think that’s why you’re on this site and on this page. Who reads a review of a leadership book if they are pretty sure they have nothing to learn?

Table of Contents

As a last note about the book, I thought I’d list out the table of contents.

Every now and then, I see myself doing something inefficient and feel compelled to go read a chapter. It’s easy to find the exact chapter.

Take a look:

PREFACE These Are Foundational Skills
INTRODUCTION The Geometry of Success
CHAPTER 2 Living in the Circular World
CHAPTER 3 The Zigzag World
CHAPTER 4 Straight-Line People
CHAPTER 5 Wanting versus Creating
CHAPTER 6 Stop Stopping versus Stopping
CHAPTER 7 What Distinguishes a Straight-Line Leader?
CHAPTER 8 A Problem versus a Decision to Make
CHAPTER 9 What I Know versus What I Live
CHAPTER 10 Want to versus Choose to
CHAPTER 11 Can’t versus Won’t
CHAPTER 13 Pleasing versus Serving
CHAPTER 14 A Created World versUS a Reported-on World
CHAPTER 15 A Dream versus a Project
CHAPTER 16 Worry versus Concern
CHAPTER 17 Shoulds versus Musts
CHAPTER 18 “I’m Responsible” versus “It’s Their Fault”
CHAPTER 19 Growth Choices versus Safe Choices
CHAPTER 20 Content with Insight versus Only Results Count
CHAPTER 21 Optimistic Denial versus the Valley of Death
CHAPTER 22 Productivity versus Busyness
CHAPTER 23 Commitment versus Trying
CHAPTER 24 Owner versus Victim
CHAPTER 25 The Same versus Separate
CHAPTER 26 Agreements versus Expectations
CHAPTER 27 Radical Self-Honesty versus Being Insincere
CHAPTER 28 Realistic Optimism versus Unrealistic Pessimism
CHAPTER 29 Being Bold versus Being Arrogant
CHAPTER 30 Discomfort and Pain versus Chaos
CHAPTER 31 Purpose Management versus Time Management
CHAPTER 32 Extreme Self-Care versus Selfishness
CHAPTER 33 How to versus Choose to
CHAPTER 34 Nice versus Kind
CHAPTER 35 Positive No versus Rejection
CHAPTER 36 Tolerance versus Confrontation
CHAPTER 37 Language that Describes Reality versus Language
that Creates Reality
CHAPTER 38 Commitment versus Involvement
CHAPTER 39 I Contribute versus I Deserve
CHAPTER 40 Corrective Actions versus Protective Actions
CHAPTER 41 Now versus Later
CHAPTER 42 Childlike versus Childish
CHAPTER 43 Playing to Win versus Playing Not to Lose
CHAPTER 44 Investment versus Cost
CHAPTER 45 Core Actions versus Surface Actions
CHAPTER 46 Focus versus Spray
CHAPTER 47 How it Can Be Done versUS Why it Can’t Be Done
CHAPTER 48 Stressing versus Caring
CHAPTER 49 Making a Living versus Creating Perfection
CHAPTER 50 Waking up to the Contrasts

Wrapping Up

Overall, this has been a very useful discovery for me and has helped me lead myself and others.

As far as I know, I’ve only ever heard Travis Sago reference it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a new book for you. Give it a glance and see if you need any of these ideas. I certainly did.

I’ve referenced this book in my The Back End Marketing Agency, Piggy Banking Lessons from Thin Mint$, and The Invisible Selling Machine newsletter editions.

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