Skip to Main Content

Aim High

Chart Your Course and Find Success

Foreword by Sheryl Sandberg

About The Book


Dysfunction abounds in America in so many ways, from continuous turbulent change in the business environment, to a US federal government polarized by an inability to compromise and fulfill its historic missions, to personal levels where even deeper and darker levels of dysfunction reside within our colleagues, families, friends, and ourselves. Can any of us survive and thrive against such a backdrop of unsettledness and anxiety? Deborah Lee James wants to help us try.

As the 23rd Secretary and the “CEO” of the male-dominated US Air Force (only the second woman to lead a US military service), Secretary Deborah Lee James led a force of 660,000 people and managed a $139 billion budget—larger than the GDP of more than 120 countries. In the midst of unprecedented political dysfunction in Washington, she faced down enormous challenges, including preparing military women and men to fight terror in the Middle East, combatting sexual assault in the military, and responding to a crisis in the nuclear enterprise.

In Aim High: Chart Your Course and Find Success, Deborah James shares her personal and professional challenges, outcomes, strategies for success, and the problem-solving principles she used to overcome the daunting pressures, threats, and challenges that come with rising to the top of the US Armed Forces. As a supplement to her storytelling, Bain and Company, a top-tier management consulting firm, offers research and statistics that prove James’ insights have widespread impact.

The book offers an insider’s view on how things really work in Washington—and how the author’s five-step, repeatable problem-solving approach can work in any walk of life.

As a mother and wife, Deborah James carried her insights and problem-solving skills home. For women in similar circumstances, her story will provide a powerful guidebook for excelling in both public and private life, and ensuring that their battles can be won and their challenges overcome.

About The Author

Product Details

  • Publisher: Post Hill Press (April 30, 2019)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781642930344

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

"Aim High is a testament to high ideals and hard work. Debbie James lived these principles during her time as Secretary of the Air Force. This book reminds us that it's not just about getting the job done, but also about HOW you do the job. I recommend Aim High for leaders at all levels!"

– Chuck Hagel, 24th Secretary of Defense, Former US Senator

"Lead several hundred thousand people, manage a budget over $100 billion, and secure the nuclear enterprise. That's what Secretary James did as the second woman ever to run the U.S. Air Force, and this book feels like having a personal conversation with her. She takes you behind the scenes with rich case studies to share valuable leadership lessons for your career and your life."

– Adam Grant, Professor, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, LinkedIn Top Voices 2017, New York Times bestselling author of ORIGINALS, GIVE AND TAKE, and OPTION B

"Debbie's insights are words to live by, and she has lived them herself over her remarkable life and career. Debbie is that rare leader who remains humble and grounded, despite her many successes, and she brings all her life lessons together in these memorable stories. Aim High is a must read for all who aspire to leadership positions." 

– Adam Bryant, Bestselling author "The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed," New York Times and Newsweek Senior Editor and Columnist, CNBC Contributor, Managing Director, MERRYCK & CO

"Who would have thought that a Leadership book could be a page-turner or that it could make you laugh and cry? That's exactly what Debbie James has achieved in Aim High. Part memoir, part how-to book, Secretary James has woven her professional and personal experience into advice and observations about careers and leadership to great effect. Aim High should be at the top of the reading list for any leadership class, or for those who want to know what authentic leadership looks like!" 

– Jared Cohon, 8th President, Carnegie Mellon University, Professor, Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering

"Debbie's passion to make a difference, combined with her personal achievements in the public and private sectors, provide the context for relevant and practical leadership skills that all of us can use to aim high with a sense of purpose and navigate a course to success. Her message to all leaders is effective—set a direction, inspire others and deliver results. Debbie's approach to overcoming challenges and creating opportunities is one that all of us can relate to in our lives and careers."

– Tony Moracco, Chief Executive Officer, SAIC, Inc.

"I had the honor and pleasure of working with Debbie James when she served as Secretary of the Air Force. I saw the success of her three step leadership model as we tackled many extremely challenging issues. In Aim High, Debbie shares the elements of her approach in a comfortable, story-telling style. An excellent read for leaders just starting out or mid-career as they pave their personal and professional paths."    

– Ellen M. Pawlikowski, General, USAF (Retired)

"A MUST READ for anyone leading a major organization as well as interested in personal growth. Through practical insights and case studies, Debbie James gives us a playbook for thriving in turbulent change. By writing with raw honesty and warmth, she gives us the courage to aim high!"

– Sanyin Siang, LinkedIn Top Voices 2017, Forbes Contributor, Executive Director, Coach K Leadership and Ethics Center, Duke University

"This is a GREAT book! We can all learn from the Secretary's approach to life, problem solving and execution. Personally, I consider Debbie to be one of my mentors. Much of how I approach problem solving was framed by her. I am thankful for her service, intellect, friendship and leadership."

– John Rogers, Chief Executive Officer, EO, RL Leaders, Former CEO, MV Transportation

"I have watched Debbie James navigate, extraordinarily, leadership challenges through 25 years as a professional colleague. Aim High reveals an incredible journey through the worlds of politics and executive positions in government and business. A remarkable tutorial for all seeking a role model of courage and success."

– General (Ret) John Jumper, 17th Chief of Staff, United States Air Force

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images