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4 ways the the Velveteen Rabbit can transform your leadership

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

The children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, will teach you everything you need to know about what is really important about you as a leader.

Here is my favorite quote from the book and four lessons you can take away and reflect.


“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room.

“Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”


Here are four short and sharp lessons.

1. Leading is hard and full of bumps and bruises, and most of all, a lot of lessons. Be reflective in your failures, and turn them into opportunities.

2. You will be judged. It sucks, but get used to it. Find mentors that will lift you up when you are down, and support you with honesty and compassion.

3. Understand your strengths that you bring to the table. Embrace these, grow these, and be humbled by these. In the end, it will make all the difference in your leadership skill development.

4. Accept that who you are today will not be who you are tomorrow, or the next day, or even the day after that, because as you grow, so will the impact of your leadership.

The Velveteen Rabbit may not be your cup of tea, but it can fill your cup with leadership wisdom. Take a minute this weekend and give the book a read. It is always a little better when you read it to your kids. They always seem to pull just the right lessons out of the hat.

Have a great weekend,

James Kelley, Ph.D.

CEO of qChange

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