Speaking Potential to the Next Leader by Jim Johnson

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I’ve been fortunate, blessed to have influential people in my life who have encouraged my growth as a leader. Their influence has come in the form of mentoring and observing them living their lives. One of the things that has “stuck” with me, though, is the way they spoke potential into me.

Chuck Yoke successfully ran a large grocery change in the Spokane, Washington region. He was called home from the war to run his parents’ small grocery in Deer Park, Washington. Chuck quickly grew the business with his smarts and his keen understanding of people. He retired years ago having created a solid brand and customer experience in his stores.

I had the privelege of working for Chuck as a bookkeeper and then as an assistant manager in a new warehouse market in Spokane. One day, Chuck told me, “I’ve watched you work and learn new things. I’m convinced that there’s nothing you can’t do.” That comment has stayed with me for decades now. I remind myself of this when I’ve faced difficult situations. Someone somewhere back in time believed in me – I need to believe in me. Chuck spoke potential into me.

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with the music organization The Continentals. I went on 10 tours in all over a 10 year period. My last 5 tours, I was the music director on one of many tours that would travel throughout the world. Cam Floria founded this incredible organization that has postively impacted leaders all over the world. As a fledgling music director, Cam would tell us that out on the road we would face some tough situations. He taught us to never give in to the idea “it can’t be done.” He taught us to be flexible. He taught us to make things happen even if everyone around us wants to give up. “There is always a way,” he would tell us time and time again. Cam saw my leadership potential before I did. I haven’t given up. Cam spoke potential into me.

When I was in the 6th grade, my Sunday School teacher was Al Schrock – everybody called him Shorty (he was). Shorty got me hooked on Dr. Pepper. He was a Bible scholar. He and his wife, Lizzy, were both brought up Amish. He helped me buy my first guitar by having me mow his lawn and help him with various building projects. He taught me the lesson that I can get what I want if I’m willing to work hard for it. He encouraged me to follow my passion of music (it has taken me around the world). He taught me the value of thinking and listening and asking questions. He loved his wife and he loved others. This man with only an 8th grade education taught me more than many of my college and master’s degree professors. Shorty spoke potential into me.

So here’s the million dollar question: who are you speaking potential into right now?

  • The new manager you just promoted?
  • A teen at your church?
  • Your children?

Don’t ignore the power of your life poured into someone else.

 

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