My interest in writing this book began twenty-five years ago, when I learned that I sucked at leading. I was a traveling gypsy, hurling myself off one-hundred-foot towers into small pools at amusement parks throughout North America. I had just become the captain of the U.S. high-diving team and was responsible for leading a troupe of young, high-flying athletes and ensuring that they consistently performed in tip-top shape. It was my first leadership role, and I was a damn good leader, I assumed, because the team was performing decently, and, well, the fact that I had been selected as the team’s captain was proof enough.

Each day, my teammates and I would put on a thrilling aerial exhibition for our amusement park patrons. We’d start ...

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