Lessons From Abdul Book Release & Podcast Interview
April 1, 2024

You can only give what you have received.

The premise underlying my first three books—the Inside Out Leadership trilogy that includes Lead the Way, All In, and Move the Needle—centers on the notion that you can only give what you have received. Devoting my life’s work to assisting others, I aim to empower leaders to embrace their authentic identity and purpose, enabling them to generously share their gifts with others. 

Looking back at the beginning of my journey with Abdul, I realize now that it was a blessing that I hadn’t progressed too far before his involvement. I hadn’t relied too heavily on my default mechanism of giving or ignored the benefit of receiving. If I had, that could have hindered my ability to fully embrace and continue on this explorative journey with Abdul. 

It’s worth mentioning that receiving generally fits into these three categories: 

  1. Receiving praise or compliments
  2. Dealing with different viewpoints or opinions
  3. Accepting help and support

7 reasons why leaders find it challenging to receive:

#1 Hurt Can Hold Us Back 

In her insightful article in Psychology Today, Kimberly Key sheds light on the matter: 

When our hearts have been wounded, we may instinctively shield ourselves by developing a hardened exterior. This self-protective mechanism can make genuine intimacy seem risky. By only focusing on giving and not allowing ourselves to receive, we create an obstacle that impedes the free flow of love. Any obstruction in this flow prevents us from fully experiencing the beauty of love. 

#2: The Path of Least Resistance 

If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves surrounded by what I call mini-me’s—individuals and groups who share similar interests, passions, educational backgrounds, life experiences, and values. Such people justify and echo our opinions and thought processes. It is natural for us to subconsciously gravitate toward those who are similar to us, and we find it challenging to receive from individuals who are different. 

#3 Letting Go of Control 

When we give, we are in a position of control. We have the power to decide how much we give, how we give, and to whom we give. We are in total control of the act of giving. But when we receive something, it puts us in a vulnerable position, and the only thing we control is the ability to refuse the offer. It’s like getting a gift we didn’t expect. In accepting the gift, we know we didn’t do anything to earn it. 

#4 Fear of Conditions Placed on Giving 

People often instinctively believe there must be a hidden motive behind a giver’s actions. We are so accustomed to the notion of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” or “now you owe me” that we erect barriers when it comes to receiving. We yearn for unconditional generosity but hesitate to believe that something so good can be true. If we do receive, we often feel compelled to reciprocate, perpetuating an unhealthy cycle. 

#5 Moral Guidelines, Faith-Based Principles 

Many of us have been raised with the belief that giving is more important and meaningful than receiving. However, such teaching is only part of the story. The other often neglected part of the story is that what we have to give is almost always an accumulation of the many contributions and gifts that others have given us. We have placed an excessive emphasis on giving and thus overlooked the importance and necessity of receiving. This mindset has frequently left us burdened with guilt when faced with the opportunity to receive. In some cases, we may even deny ourselves the possibility of embracing the act of receiving. 

#6: Unveiling the Noble Mask 

Some people may struggle with accepting positive feedback due to a fear that it might inflate their ego (if coming from a superior) or make them appear weak or vulnerable (if coming from a subordinate). As a result, they deflect praise from others. While this behavior may appear noble on the surface, it can mask deeper issues related to a lack of self-understanding and purpose. It suggests that those individuals may have allowed external influences to shape their identity and define their perception of success. 

#7: The Paradox of Closeness 

When you become overly familiar with the idiosyncrasies, imperfections, and temperament of your inner circle, it can pose challenges to receiving from them. I’m reminded of the old adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” 

Take a moment to reflect on the barriers that have historically hindered you from fully receiving from others, particularly those who are different from you. If you’re still reading this, it suggests that you are, at the very least, curious and perhaps even ready to embark on the most transformative Inside Out Leadership journey of your life. This journey requires tapping into the depths of your authentic self while embracing your experiences and where you’ve been. It echoes your creative curiosity, much like my own initial journey with Abdul. Remember, it’s never too late to reconnect with the child- like wonder within you! 

You are the Gatekeeper of your own heart

As you embark on this exploration, remember that you hold the keys to your own heart as a gatekeeper. It’s not about receiving everything all the time but rather learning how to open yourself up to receiving from anyone anywhere. Overcoming big barriers and receiving and embracing genuine humility in the process requires acknowledging a universal truth that when we approach receiving with childlike openness, there is a purity and authenticity that goes beyond any sense of deserving. The most precious and fulfilling aspects of life are free—free from conditions, accusations, manipulation, and judgment. Imagine the impact we could make if we tapped into the innocence and power of receiving from anyone anytime, and in our giving, gave from that place of abundance. 


On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is the lowest,10 is the highest), how effectively are you opening yourself up to receiving from people who are very different from you? 

Welcome to Season 4 of Inside Out Leadership!

It is better to give than to receive.

We have all grown accustomed to this ancient nugget of wisdom. However, if everyone were focused solely on giving, would there be anyone left to receive?

There are numerous reasons why leaders (and individuals in general) often struggle when it comes to receiving help, words of praise, and unique perspectives.

In my highly anticipated new book, “Lessons from Abdul:  The Hidden Power of Receiving from Anyone, Anytime” I delve into the seven key factors that frequently hinder leaders from embracing receptivity and provide the ten transformative insights I gained from my unconventional mentor, ABDUL.

These valuable and timely lessons will help you to overcome these barriers and become a more genuine and open receiver, an as a result, help you cultivate the capacity to be a purposeful and selfless giver.

During Season 4, Episode 3, I emphasize the importance of being open to receiving praise, different viewpoints, and support. I explore the barriers leaders face in embracing receiving, such as fear, control issues, and societal conditioning, ultimately advocating for a transformative journey towards embracing humility and authenticity.

Mentioned in this episode:

Robb’s new book, “Lessons from Abdul:  The Hidden Power of Receiving from Anyone, Anytime”

About Robb Holman

Robb Holman is a globally renowned expert in personal transformation and a catalyst for his Inside Out Leadership philosophy. As a highly sought-after keynote speaker and the author of four influential books, Holman’s upcoming release, “Lessons from Abdul,” has already garnered praise from global leaders, who are calling it one of his most thought-provoking and inspirational works yet.

He is the CEO of Holman International, an acclaimed global leadership consultancy. In recognition of his expertise, Robb was named one of the world’s top 30 leadership speakers for three consecutive years (2022, 2023, 2024) by Global Gurus. His innovative Inside Out Leadership philosophy has gained significant recognition and has been featured in publications like Inc, Forbes, and Fast Company.

You can visit Robb by going here.