Dr John Demartini Shares The Meaning Of Leadership

Dr John Demartini is a fascinating man that many ordinary individuals and business leaders follow.  When I interviewed him some time back I came away from the interview with a strong reminder that there are no boundaries to what one can achieve in life. We set the boundaries in our own minds! We as individuals and leaders are more often than not our own worst enemies.

At the age of 17 he almost died. This experience, together with others changed his life. Early on in his teens he was told that he would never amount to anything; that he would never be able to read and write properly. He believed this for a couple of years, as shown by the fact that he lived on the streets and eventually turned to surfing the waves in California and even Hawaii. Then, at the age of 17 he met an old man of 93 and was so inspired by him that he decided there and then he wanted to become a teacher and philosopher.

He learnt to read and from there went on an unmatched journey of reading and studying books in too many fields to mention in this article. His last count of how many books he has read is over 28 000! One struggles to comprehend how someone can do this! It is as though he has a thirst for knowledge that cannot be quenched. In this he demonstrates what a truly motivated person is capable of!

The question is how he maintained his energy or motivation levels. Many of us start out very motivated to achieve a dream but then it fizzles out. Before he gave me his specific ‘formula’ for maintaining energy and motivation levels, he referred back to the meeting with the 93 year old man. Demartini looked me straight in my eyes, and I am sure he had tears in his when he said: “If you had been there when he spoke to me you would understand why he had such a huge impact on my life”.

Regarding his formula he has a ‘master plan book’ that he has been working on every day since he was about 17; he writes in his journal about things he is grateful for on a daily basis; he updates, refines his mission and objectives and works at it; he just keeps going!

The man knows no boundaries in his hunger for universal knowledge and the pace he upholds on this tireless expedition. I would not be surprised if he has studied more subjects in more depth than most experts out there. Our conversation moved away from cosmology, physics, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, neurology, business, finance, economics, and so on into the field of leadership.

He says to be a great leader you must be able to handle praise and reprimand equally. One can interpret this statement in several ways, but it sustains the underlying truth that a leader is always accountable to someone or some principle or universal law that ensures natural reaction. There are leaders who over time forget this truth and starts believing that they are in a space where everyone is accountable to them.

Some examples could be Robert Mugabe, Hitler, Stalin and others. But, when you judge them in the broader context, beyond the confines of time it becomes clear that eventually society at large will make or made them accountable. Think about this principle and make sure that in your ‘smaller’ world you do not fall into the same trap.

Demartini also commented that a leader must be able to build and destroy. Once again this can be interpreted in many ways, but it runs concurrent with the true principle that to survive in this very competitive and fast changing world we have to constantly learn and unlearn. To build and destroy simply means to change – build new ideas and have the courage to destroy that which is no longer relevant or adding value. A good leader can also build what is good and destroy that which is not!

Finally he explained that every individual has a hierarchy of values based on whatever they think is most missing in their lives and therefore what they think is most important. In other words if you believe what is most missing in your life is money or a quality relationship, then money or a quality relationship will become most valuable to you. As a leader you must find out what is most missing to your followers and align to that.

Greatest leadership learning:

“Being true to my vision and never giving up on it; remembering that the world around me reflects the world inside me. Care enough to communicate what inspires me in other people’s values so that they can fulfill their lives. Embrace the balance of support and challenge, pain and pleasure along the pursuit of vision. To embrace the responsibility and accountability that comes with leadership and look to solve problems and challenges instead of shrinking and withdrawing from them.”

Greatest accomplishment in your life:

“Breaking through my childhood learning disability label; awakening to my inspired life mission and vision; never giving up on it and doing whatever it takes, traveling whatever distance and paying whatever price to give my services of love across the world.”

What can readers do this week to be better leaders?

“Stop, become silent, and become exactly clear and concise on your true vision, mission and objectives. Focus on every fine detail of your strategy until it is crystal clear. Select wisely who to delegate execution to and make sure that the tasks align to the values of the people who will be executing them. Be accountable and make people accountable. Inspire others with certainty to its accomplishment and be grateful for each step of the way.”

My challenge to you:

“Sit silent; contemplate the greatest contribution you would love to make that can fulfill the greatest amount of problems, needs, voids in the world then follow the previous answer.”

This article appeared in the





Louis has been fanatically endeavoring to uncover universal leadership principles and models for longer than most of us have been alive. He is an author, leadership expert, father, grandfather, and the Co-Founder of Leadership Platform.

Call: +27 (0)12 653 3022
Email: info@leadershipplatform.com

Follow Us

Leadership Platform is a specialist leadership development consultancy, focusing on creating measurable impact to the bottom line through the enhancement of leadership understanding and engagement.


By subscribing you will be updated with the latest insights and news from us. We never spam.