New Book ‘Take Your Mark, LEAD!’ Offers Inspiring Look Into Leadership

Take Your Mark, LEAD! - Leadership

New Book ‘Take Your Mark, LEAD!’ Offers Inspiring Look Into Leadership

A leader is someone who can be confidently followed, trusted, and recognized as unique from the pack. The term, unfortunately, is thrown around with much nonchalance, making it frequently difficult to decipher the difference between a true leader and someone who may not possess each of the necessary ingredients.

Based on what she has accomplished during her life and careers, Kelly Parker Palace epitomizes the definition of a leader. A former Olympic Trials qualifier, All-American swimmer and team captain at North Carolina State and former head women’s coach at the University of South Carolina from 1990-95, she broke a glass-ceiling in that position as the first female head coach in the Southeastern Conference. Palace’s new book, which has only been out for one week, has already hit No. 1 on Amazon in two categories for new release books, Swimming and Business Teams.

With a compelling foreword by Bob Bowman, the longtime coach of 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, “Take Your Mark, Lead!” features 11 chapters that are dedicated to the actionable ways leadership can be attained and demonstrated. The work offers wisdom for taking charge of one’s life and emerging as a champion that others will want to follow.

Here is what Bowman says about the book: “Take Your Mark, LEAD!” is a powerful addition to your personal improvement library. Kelly Parker Palace has spent a lifetime learning, testing and refining the skills of both individual and group leadership. Her sports, coaching and business success is a natural backdrop for the clearly defined, practical strategies she delivers. This isn’t just a sports book, and learners from all walks of life will gain key insights and enjoy the journey through this inspiring book.”


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As host of the Champion’s Mojo Podcast, Parker Palace has shown a knack for discussing the psychology of leadership, peak performance and what makes athletes capable of reaching their goals. Now, in written form, she shares many of her insights and some of the most intriguing and helpful approaches from champions she has encountered during her life.

When asked how the book came about, she said: “It was born out of the desire to help others benefit from the techniques and skills that I acquired as an athlete and coach, and that I witnessed other champions and leaders practicing. If an average girl like me could transfer these skills to success in the corporate, business world and life—beyond what I could have imagined, then anyone can.”

Parker Palace has extensive credentials which firmly set the foundation for a discussion of leadership. Besides many stories from other champions, she tells stories as a survivor of the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks and a survivor of breast cancer. Moreover, her multimillion-dollar entrepreneurship and corporate experience with a Fortune 100 company encompass a woman who is not afraid to dive into a new venture and can rally others to work together.

From a swimming perspective, “Take Your Mark, Lead!” offers insights and stories from numerous leaders from within the aquatic community. That scenario should not be surprising, given Parker Palace’s deep connections in the sport, and she wisely uses these relationships to generate a deeper analysis of what constitutes peak performance. In her role as an author, Parker Palace demonstrates leadership by sharing what she has learned from the sport and the men and women she has encountered in the water and on the pool deck.

Among those from the swimming community who are highlighted in the book are coaching greats Bowman, Jack Bauerle, Teri McKeever, Sergio Lopez, Ray Looze and David Marsh. Swimmer stories include inspiration from Michael Andrew, Lilly King, Cody Miller, Ryan Murphy, Leah Smith, Elizabeth Beisel and Hall of Famers and Olympic champions Matt Biondi and Mary T. Meagher.

In one chapter, Parker Palace discusses the importance of persistence by telling the story of Bowman and a one-time thought during his career that, perhaps, he was not going to realize a high level of success on the coaching scene. Ultimately, Bowman dug deep, spoke with colleagues and mentors, and fought through his negative thoughts to remain on deck – and, eventually, become a coach with a Hall of Fame spot awaiting him.

The specific tale of Bowman is just one example of a plethora of stories that permeate the book, and allow the reader to resonate with the feelings, situations, and dilemmas of others. Parker Palace’s book informs the reader that he/she is not on her own, and provides constant reminders that leadership is not easy, but is a test of character.

An excellent decision by Parker-Palace was the move to summarize each chapter with a checklist for what is required to “lead yourself” and “lead others” in the fashion described in that chapter’s pages. This organizational tool can be used by readers to determine what areas they have identified in themselves, and which aspects require a little more attention. There’s also a discussion guide in the back of the book for teams to utilize for building their leadership skills.

Because leadership is a trait that we all desire to possess within ourselves and respect in others, “Take Your Mark, Lead!” is a highly recommended read. Its combination of individual stories and specific strategies for emerging as a leader and peak performer make it an excellent, well-rounded work.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    john m.razi

    Sounds super-amazing ! Hopefully , in “audible-format” very soon ! Vital !

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