I would like you to imagine for a second that you have just been told you have received a prestigious award, and that there will be a celebratory dinner where you will be given the award in front of hundreds of people. Congratulations!
I’ve been lucky enough in my career to have been in this position a few times. After hearing the news, I felt a range of emotions…pride, happiness, surprise, etc. And once the euphoria of being selected was replaced with the preparation for the dinner, the real work began…I had to start working on my acceptance speech.
At first, I was just so excited to be writing my notes for the speech, but as I spent more time thinking about the message I wanted to share with the people in the audience, the theme changed from just thanking every name I could think of who helped me get to this point, to identifying the top people in my life who were truly instrumental in me standing on that stage. The game-changing mentors that influenced my life in outsized ways.
You see, we don’t get to where we are alone, we always have help from others – and lots of it. And along the way, we find ourselves in relationships with a few mentors who will make those dramatically impactful differences in our lives. That is where the thanks should start and did start in my speech.
So, who are the top mentors in your life that you would like to thank, for helping you to get on that podium to accept your prestigious award?
Some of the names on my list are my Mom and Dad, my wife Kristi, Lou, Verne and Bill. Without these people in my life:
- I would have never been given a life-changing leadership opportunity at a young age. Somebody saw something in me, and I am forever thankful to Lou for that opportunity. I have done my best to pay that gift forward, many times, to other young leaders throughout my career.
- 8 years into a sizzling start to my entrepreneurial career, I was introduced to Verne, the leader and creator of the MIT Birthing of Giants Program. Without his wisdom and guidance over the past 20+ years, I would not be half the entrepreneurial leader I am today. When I met him, I clearly did not know what I did not know…his program quickly changed that and I am forever grateful, as his student, me, has now become the teacher over the past decade.
- Bill has been my coach for over 15 years, and I credit him and the Vistage leadership group he chairs for leading me to levels of success in my professional career that would not have been possible without the group. I credit my significant improvement in self-awareness that has been instrumental during that same timeframe to Bill, and now pay it forward by mentoring others in the same area.
- My Mom and Dad taught me the critical life skills throughout my childhood that I use today, and my wife has always been my biggest supporter, but also the person who told me what I needed to hear, even when I desperately did not want to hear it.
Are there others who have made a big difference in my life, you bet.
So, once again, who are the top mentors in your life that you would like to thank, for helping you to get on that podium to accept the prestigious award?
Here is what I would ask you to do next. Spend some quiet thinking time and come up with your list of people who have made an out-sized difference for you. After coming up with the list, imagine you are about to begin speaking at the podium and you look out and see them…
What would you say to your mentors if they were in the audience?
When you have figured out what you would say, I am going to highly encourage you to pick up the phone, call them, and tell them thank you (of course, provide some context for the call for them!). Let them know how much they have meant to your life, and the out-sized impact they have had on your career to date.
During these challenging times, we all need to be at our best. Along the way, let’s acknowledge those influential mentors in our lives who assisted, either directly or indirectly, in ultimately getting us into the leadership seats we are in today. Leadership and entrepreneurial thinking are critical skill sets needed to get us through the difficult economic times brought on by Covid-19.
The speech is over, you did a great job, and the right people have been thanked.
Back to mentoring. Look around your organization and your life. Ask yourself, who could you offer life-changing mentorship to in the next year?
Please pay it forward too. Forward this to 5 of your entrepreneurial leader friends that you think would like to go through the same thinking exercise. Maybe we can even get some of those game-changing mentors back in the game a bit more too. The more leaders the better for our current challenging times!