Understanding Lions:
A Character Assessment of High-Powered Mentors & Hirers

by Jake Aull  12/08


Mentoring is heralded among business leadership and job-searching literature alike. It’s a great method of education – it gives us goals for advancement and characters to grow into. But whether they are mentors, employers, or teachers – we know when we are in the presence of the high-powered, successful visionaries we admire. Likewise, much literature exists attempting to capture the character of such highly successful “lions.” Certainly for us, assimilating such information can be valuable. But we can also greatly benefit from focusing on our own observations and creating character analyses of the lions around us. If we seek accomplishments, lions can show us the way. If we seek job positions, they can tell us who we must become. We can then digest these traits more fully, and advance our own selves toward who we want to be, or to the job positions we desire. In the spirit of these thoughts, I’ve attempted my own character analysis of the high-powered lions I’ve been fortunate enough to meet in my life. Here are my common-trait observations:

The Underlying Focus

 - Lions seem always focused. However this is not an all-consuming concentration, leaving them unable to consider anything beyond one thought. To phrase it differently, perhaps lions are "subconsciously focused"; they can be engaged in conversation with another, or be fully aware of their environment, yet simultaneously have a constant, specific thought running in the backs of their heads. For analogy, I consider Dennis Hoffman to be very successful at what he does. But if I met him, I would expect him to be fully concentrating on his latest acting project – so much as to barely see me directly in his face. My apologies to the great Dustin Hoffman for such labeling, but this is what I consider NOT to be the lion’s focus. Rather, lions seem to have a subconscious that enables a "split mind" - both in the moment, and somewhere else, simultaneously...

Conquering the Ego

 - Lions have some ego, but not nearly as much as one would expect. It doesn't seem to be about ego for them. Perhaps it was at one time - perhaps they had to meet and conquer that. But they seem, somehow, driven less by ego than (for lack of better term) less successful people are. Perhaps less successful people need ego, gratification, and moral support more than lions? A key difference here I think is pettiness. Lions are not usually petty. At least perhaps, not in what they're great at. So many of the rest of us, in one thing or another, are petty.

To further the point, lions rarely show offense. If one does some little thing expected to offend them, lions do not retaliate lowly. Perhaps they are offended, but they do not stoop so low as to project it. They seem to have a greater priority in mind. Something coming just around the bend...

The Constant Force of Energy
 - Lions have a constant, reliable, driving force. They never stop, yet it doesn't seem to over-tire them. They wear energy like a suit. This is not necessarily a force of ultra-competitiveness – lions are not the types that have to beat other people at everything they do. They can play a game of golf (and it’s just a game of golf), but there's still that something else, that constant thought, that reliable, underlying force beneath the surface.

Perhaps this energy can appear optimistic, but lions are not over-optimistic. Rather, they just conquer, without need for explanation. Their inherent, invaluable energy seems to push on, regardless of optimistic or pessimistic projections. They are not “busybodies”; they are purpose-driven. Their energy is self-revitalizing...


Nonetheless, this “great gusto” can hardly be rationalized to any one thing. Lions may be successful, but they are not in the game just for money or power. And reaching a prominent position does not cause them to stop. They run for the love of running – and crossing milestones along the way. They are not left injured by failure, nor does it stop them.

Results Conversion

 - Much literature on success emphasizes optimism, enthusiastic energy, focused goals, and not giving in to arrogance. Perhaps what makes lions different from the rest of us, is that these are just the elements along the way to convert into results. It is a journey that lions embrace, rather than the end of the line. Lions are not focused on exclusively one position, nor retirement. They grow, not because they try to, but because at their core, they need to grow to live…


We can all become our own lions if we wish. There are no others’ shadows confining our abilities – only paths to our own tall stature. The footsteps of our great predecessors can lead us there – may we learn them well indeed…


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Copyright   2008   Jake Aull