‘Invest Yourself’: Leadership Tips for All Aspects of Life

John Abbate, owner-operator of a large number of McDonald’s restaurants throughout Central California, has built a successful career investing in the iconic golden arches and in real estate. His most rewarding investment, however, has been in his Catholic faith, which has transformed his life into one of self-giving rather than self-serving. In his new book, “Invest Yourself: Daring to Be Catholic in Today’s Business World,” he shows that business success and a thriving Catholic faith are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they form the basis of a life that is rich in what matters. Here’s a short excerpt from “Invest Yourself.”

When I was in high school, Nike came out with the tagline There is no finish linefor a major ad campaign. At the time, I was wrestling and had taken up competitive long-distance running. I was captivated by the message and the imagery of a lone runner journeying down a long and winding road. I purchased the Nike poster and hung it on my wall as a symbol of life as a long and winding journey of consistency and daily commitment to my dream.

I kept that poster on my wall all through high school and college. There is no finish linebecame my personal tagline. It was a constant reminder that success comes to those who are willing to put in the daily work and effort to reach their goals. And even better, I learned that when you embrace the journey rather than the end result, the process can become richer and more rewarding than the goal itself.

This mentality has spilled into many other areas of my life as well. Whether the daily commitment is to my faith, family, or the world, there is no finish line. Each day is a new opportunity to be successful, self-disciplined, and accountable to something greater than my own selfish needs.

We humans need to set ourselves up for success. Most people struggle in their faith life, not because of a lack of faith, but because of a lack of discipline and sense of long perspective.

Whether I was dealing with the strains of work or young children, I did not have a solid process that would allow me to be successful on a daily basis. I needed to figure out a better plan that would keep me consistent. I discovered that the same process I used in business could be successful in my spiritual life as well.

The basic notion of Jesuit leadership is as good a way as any to sum up the essential realities of leadership that we must come to terms with in order to make a difference in the world each day.

These principles are equally effective for family life, civic commitments, church involvementevery area of your life.

  • Were all leaders, and were leading all the time. Whether we are doing it well or poorly, chances are we are affecting someone else.
  • Leadership springs from within. It is about who I am as much as what I do. Therefore, we must know who we are at our core. Even when we stray off our path, we have the foundation of knowledge to eventually come back to our core.
  • Catholic leadership is not an act. It is my life, my way of living in a manner that honors our essential purpose. I never complete the task of becoming a leader. Its an ongoing process of self-reflection and self-evaluation.

These insights on leadership drive at the core of what we must accept if we are to become Gods vision for us. We cannot simply stop being our best because it is inconvenient or excuse ourselves, saying we dont have a leadership personality. God has given all of us the task of leading people in our lives. He has also given us the tools to enhance these skills. Yet, authentic leadership is not possible without the elements of virtue. It is the molecular structure of the character that is demanded of leaders.

Now more than ever, we need leaders who dare to live their faith in every aspect of their lives, including their work.

The real challenge for us is to create an environment that can inspire others to live with compassion, empathy, and inspiration. It is characterized by investing ourselves and being willing to be the first. In essence, it is through virtue and charisma that we are worthy of being respected and followed. Therefore, we dont have to fall back on a given title or some coercive form of power to get people to listen, follow, and deliver results. Reverent power in leadership will always trump leadership based on a short-term formal power base.


Adapted from “Invest Yourself: Daring to Be Catholic in Today’s Business World” by John Abbate. Copyright © 2018 by John Abbate. Used by permission.