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.
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:
Are there others who have made a big difference in my life, you bet.
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…
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!
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