Thanking a Mentor

This week, a significant leader/mentor in my life will turn 80 years old.  At the recent Global Leadership Summit, we were challenged by Bill Hybels to reach out to those who helped mold our leadership skills and tell them “thank you”.  This morning, I wrote a letter to this leader.  Here is an excerpt from that letter:

leadership legacy

I just wanted to say “thank you” once again for all that you’ve done for me in my life.  I am often asked who was a major influencer.  Your name tops the list (after my parents).  Here’s why:

  • You taught me that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
  • You taught me to be flexible. “There is always a way.”  I believed you, acted on it, and found your words to be true.
  • You taught me to think on my feet.
  • You taught me to be direct.
  • You taught me how to sell.
  • You taught me how to work a crowd.
  • You taught me how to produce.
  • You taught me how to get along with others who are vastly different than I am.
  • You allowed me to be me.
  • You pushed me to be excellent and then to become better.
  • You taught me how to speak in front of 10 and 10,000.
  • You allowed me to be creative and gave me room to do it.
  • You showed me that leaders can open up to confidants.
  • You taught me to set high standards and not to lower them.
  • You gave me the opportunity to be exposed to cultures all over the world.
  • You showed me how to celebrate the “wins” of your team. You always were delighted to hear our stories from the road.
  • You taught me that consistent discipline works.
  • You showed me that the leader’s dream can be infectious.
  • You taught me that I am capable of far more than I thought I was.
  • You introduced me to the world, and now I have friends all over the planet.
  • You believed in me. I can’t thank you enough for that.

So, who in your life could you “thank” for helping you? It really takes moments to craft a letter.  But you will encourage a mentor in ways you cannot imagine.

They invested in you.  Invest in them today.  Thank a Mentor.

Intentionally Value Others by Jim Johnson

value others

At the end of May, I had the opportunity to speak at the NACAAP Annual Conference in Denver.  In one of my sessions, I spoke on how leaders can add value to customers, coworkers, and their communities.  Part of what I shared was based upon John Maxwell’s writing.  Here’s a snippet of what I shared…

Remember, our work is not about quotas or reports.  Our work is about PEOPLE.

We tend to focus our work on data, reports, spreadsheets, etc.  When we do this, we miss the most important part of our day – the people around us.

So we need to intentionally value others.  How do we do that?

For me, one of the most effective ways to value others is to intentionally verbalize my appreciation of them and speak potential into them.

I have observed leaders are sometimes hesitant to verbally value their team members.  In fact, years ago I had a boss tell me, “I won’t tell you that you did a good job. Want to know why?  Because if I do that, you won’t try any more.”  This person knew nothing about me or people.  Regardless of your position, we all like to hear “job well done” from time to time.  It does motivate people.

I have been pushing myself to make the time to look a team member in the eyes and tell them “thank you” for their efforts.  I’m working harder at verbally giving them kudos.  I’ve also been intentionally speaking potential into others (i.e. sharing my vision of where I see them growing and ways I will help them get to their goals).

Last week, I gave a leadership book to an emerging leader and challenged them to read it.  I’ve offered that after each section, I would take him to lunch to discuss what he’s been learning.  Intentional.  Purposeful.  Direct.

I’ve had leaders in my life who have done this.  An independent grocery store chain owner did this for me almost 30 years ago.  “As I watch you work, I’m convinced there’s nothing you can’t do if you set you mind to it.”  Those words were (and still are) gold to me.

The founder of an international music organization taught me that anything is possible.  Don’t accept “no” as the final answer – there is always a way to make something happen. These words helped me maneuver through tough situations in Indonesia and in Communist-controlled Estonia (25+ years ago).  I apply this mindset in my life today.

I speak potential into my own son during baseball season.  I’ve seen my own words become reality to him.  I hope he holds on to these words.

There is no down-side in speaking value and potential into another human being.  But we miss out on changing someone’s life when we withhold empowering, encouraging words.

Today, speak value to someone else.  Speak their potential.  It will change them.  It will change your team, your company, your community.

Leaders truly value others – and it is intentional.


Leading is What’s Possible by Tony Jeary

I’m working my way through Tony Jeary’s book, Life is a Series of Presentations.  If you speak in front of your team, a project team, the executive team, a community organization, etc., this is a must-read for you.  Here’s Tony quoting Scott Klein:

“Leadership…is the ability to teach people and organizations to surpass themselves.  It’s about maximizing human potential and about the ability to see what others don’t see.  Leading is the ability to find where people or an organization should be going, while managing is handling a collection of tasks.”

leadership-is-what-is-possible                                         management-is-what-is-necessary

5 Things You Really Don’t Believe About Leadership by Chad Balthrop


I have a friend who often says, “The things we do are what we really believe. Everything else is just talk.”

You would think with all our talk about leadership there would be few ideas left to explore. But the truth is, no matter how many posts you write, books you read, or conferences you attend there will always be a separation between what you say you believe and those actions you take to support those beliefs. That’s why we keep reading, keep writing, and keep searching. We need to be reminded. We look for inspiration.

With that in mind. Here are 5 things you say you believe about leadership but haven’t yet found a way to put into practice.

#5 – Everyone is a Leader
No they’re not. Everyone has leadership potential. But not everyone will lead. Everyone has influence that will move others, but it won’t always be used with intention or for positive effect. That’s not leadership. That’s cause and effect. Potential is not enough. Not everyone wants to lead. Some dread the responsibility. Some would rather surrender their freedom to the hands of others. Genuine leaders start by taking responsibility for themselves and won’t stop until they’ve inspired others to fulfill the potential inside of them.

#4 – Character-Based Leadership is Leading from WHO You Are
Leadership isn’t about position. It’s about leading from who you are. This is a noble idea, even the right idea. But most people don’t really believe it. There’s too much risk in letting someone lead from who they are. Evil people lead from who they are. Dictators and tyrants lead from who they are. That doesn’t make them character-based leaders. More than this, there is a gravity to the positions we hold and the titles we have. People submit naturally to a uniform. In our culture, growing influence leads naturally to growing position and title. Leading from who you are is the starting place of character-based leadership. What comes next is the challenging and noble work of forging who you are into a leader worth following.

#3 – Great Leaders Have Grand Vision
Hindsight makes for great stories of grand vision. But if we take an honest look at many leadership success stories what we discover isn’t grand vision. We see wisdom meet opportunity driven by necessity. Walt Disney didn’t start by dreaming about the Magic Kingdom. Almost bankrupt, he sketched Mortimer Mouse during a train ride home. His wife suggested the name be changed to Mickey. His brother found the money to make a cartoon. Ub Iwerks redesigned Walt’s original sketch into the iconic mouse we know and love. The magic came later. Necessity drove the Disney’s into an opportunity they had the wisdom to shape into the media powerhouse we know today. Vision is important. It is the clear mental picture of what could be fueled by the conviction that it should be. But don’t let a grand vision become the apocryphal mountain that gets in the way of a good idea.

#2 – Leaders Pick Themselves.
Okay, leadership starts with picking yourself, but as the ancient proverb says, “A leader without followers is only taking walk.” You have to be picked by others. Online influence is measured by tweets and retweets, shares, clicks and visits. In the real world it’s the bottom line, positive momentum, and popular opinion. However you measure it, for leaders to lead followers must choose the leader they follow. Don’t wait to be picked, but don’t expect picking yourself will be enough. It’s a start. Everything else about leadership is the challenging and worthy goal of persuading others to support your movement, methods and mission. But don’t stop there. Building supporters, finding followers is not enough. The best leaders create other leaders. In other words, become the person someone else can someday point to and say, “They picked me.”

#1 – Leaders Can Change the World
The world is a big place. History is even bigger. The outliers whose stories we tell today will likely be forgotten in less than a generation. The company you build right now will soon be sold or under new management. That cutting edge app you’re about to release on multiple platforms will one-day be as useful as my 8-track of K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Only a narrow few will start the kind of movement that survives cultures, countries and countless ages. As a leader, you will not change the world. But you can change something. You can change someone. You can change you. You can influence those around you. Successful leadership isn’t about scale. It’s about moving from where you are to where you should be and helping others do the same.

About Chad Balthrop
Husband, father and Executive Pastor at Owasso’s First Baptist Church. As co-owner and director of Interactive Solutions he led the video production team for the largest student camp in the United States. He is the author of Everyday People: The Divine Story of God’s Relentless Affection for You. Connect with Chad via his LeadChange Profile, or on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or his blog.