Today, I want to talk to the aspiring leader, someone who
dreams of making a bigger impact on their world. The leader who may have never
held a leadership position, or maybe has led before, but didn’t lead well and
wants to prove they have what it takes.
Or maybe you’re a leader who knows that what you’ve accomplished
so far isn’t all you can accomplish over time.
Regardless of where your aspirations lie, I want to ask you
one question, and it’s important:
Who are you listening to?
When I was young and starting out in my leadership journey, I
wasn’t surrounded by the team I have today. I had my father offering me wisdom,
and a select few older men that I knew, but I didn’t have anyone officially
mentoring me. The voices in my ear were limited.
Now, when there aren’t a lot of people speaking into your
life, you have to be very careful about which voices you heed. Some people have
your best interests at heart; others have theirs. What I decided to do was
intentionally seek out voices that would build me up.
I decided to listen to people who were where I wanted to one
day be. I decided to seek out smart voices for my ears.
There were three places I found healthy voices to speak into
I grew up reading books, so the concept of finding helpful,
healthy voices in the pages I read wasn’t new to me. My father had invested
well in my education, not only formally, but informally as well. He paid me to
read books he selected, and then encouraged me to develop a reading habit of my
own. We discussed the ideas I read about, and I developed my habit of filing
away quotes and notes that I found helpful and insightful. Reading was the
simplest and fastest way to discover thinking and ideas that were far outside
the norms of the community where I grew up, and the habit forever changed my
outlook on life.
My father didn’t stop with books. He took me to meet men
with great faith and great gifting, and I followed that pattern as a young
leader. I sought out people who had achieved what I wanted to achieve, and I
asked them for their time. In fact, I sought out the ten most successful people
in my profession and offered them $100 for an hour of their time (a hefty sum
for my slight wallet in those days!). Two of those leaders agreed to meet with
me, and their investment in me made a world of difference to my leadership and
Some of the voices that mattered most to me early in my
leadership were the voices of the men and women who believed in me. Voices like
Mr. Horton, my fifth-grade teacher, who stopped me one day on the playground
and told me that I was a leader—something no one had ever said to me before.
Voices like Claude, a deacon in my first church, who saw and encouraged my
potential. While not every voice in those early years was affirming or helpful,
I quickly learned how to spot the truly encouraging ones: they held me to a
higher standard that pushed me to grow so that I might help others.
I can truly say that without those three different types of voices in my life, I wouldn’t be the leader I am today.
The dividends those early voices have paid into my life motivate me to continue paying forward what I’ve been blessed to receive. It’s why I still write books, host conferences, and spend time with men and women who want to make a difference in the world.
It’s why my team and I put on events like Live2Lead, and bring successful speakers and leaders like Rachel Hollis, Angela Ahrendts, and Marcus Buckingham to the stage. We want to provide aspiring leaders like you a chance to find the books, mentors, and community that will pour into you in ways that unlock your leadership.
I am excited about this year’s Live2Lead line up, and I am
especially excited for how this unique set of speakers, thinkers, and leaders
will add value to you and the thousands of other up and coming leaders who will
Come join us. Come be part of what we’re building—a community of leaders who add value to people who multiply value to the world.
We’re saving a seat just for you.