Don’t Wait to Thank Your Mentors and Heroes

Steve Jobs Artwork by David Datuna, Mironova Gallery

Like many, Steve Jobs had an influence on my life.  He taught me a lesson recently.  It was in his passing that I learned not to wait to seek out my heroes.  Steve Jobs did not live that far from me but we didn’t know each other.  He was a distant mentor on a pedestal of brilliance and accomplishment that most of us feel is out of reach. Perhaps you have a hero or someone you feel this way about? Perhaps, like me, there are those that are gone now and you wish that you had expressed how you felt about them.

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The 4 Types of Evangelical Bigwigs from

The 4 types of evangelical bigwigs

“Most people assume that evangelicals think that they have all the answers. I’ve found that there is a large segment of business leaders who are evangelical who are certain that they don’t have all the answers. Their decision-making is largely pragmatic, and they hope they wind up making the right decisions,” says sociologist D. Michael Lindsay. (Credit: Rice University/

Interesting study of how leaders engage their own faith in their decisions at work

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Integrity in Education

Sitting in Mels Diner today, agonizing over a job i want with, I overheard (ok, eavesdropped in on) a conversation that I found disturbing.  A family was discussing a problem concerning High School students that are jumping out in front of cars.  They do so in an attempt to collect insurance money?  Or file law suits?  Can this be true?  I guess it could however I found nothing about it online.  It did remind me that there are still no classes in High School about Character or Principled decision making. As well, my role as a parent may be the only thing between my kids and an intentional traffic incident.

We have to teach self-government.  Personal Integrity has to come before you can be honest and therefore trusted by others.  If you don’t keep promises to yourself than how can you be trusted by others to keep your commitments?

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Self Discipline

Jack_pidgeon_kiskiLong time good friend Joe Garcia sent me quite a character reminder today.  He forwarded a copy of headmaster Jack Pidgeon’s commencement address to our class at The Kiski031030kiskith_2
School.  I read it right away – I hadn’t heard it for more than twenty years.  The message resonated as vividly as the authoritative New England intonation and cadence I could hear delivering it.

Wonderfully written, it’s chock full of Mr. Pidgeon’s own warm memories that brought me momentarily back to boyhood.   In the speech he says, "The longer I live the more I believe that the essential factor which places some men above others is their superior capacity for self-discipline." Jack also reminds us to, "never, never, never, never, never quit." He goes on to remind us of how we are all capable:

"You don’t have to have been born with talent or brains or special abilities or a capacity for leadership.  You don’t even have to have been born tough.  The happiest fact of life is that the one ingredient we need the most is ours for the taking.  All you have to do to acquire it is this: beginning today, stop doing something you shouldn’t do and start doing each day something you know you should do."

Thanks Joe.  It was especially generous to send this out.  Reading "On Self-Discipline" was a heartwarming connection to the roots of my commitment to a life of character and principles. 

You can download "On Self-Discipline" by Jack Pidgeon here.

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Encourage Success – give praise for character

Dave DeRoos of CityGate Associates is a  mentor of mine that has graciously offered advice on character development in addition to  providing me with a sounding board for questions about raising a responsible daughter.  He introduced me to an organization called Character Training Institute,  Character First!® that provides Character training.  Dave is great at giving praise and rewards employees and associates for quality character behavior using the Three Steps of Praise as Character First suggests:

  1. Give the definition of the character quality (there are 49 qualities according to Character First!).
  2. Offer a specific illustration of how it was demonstrated.
  3. Explain the benefit to you and/or others.

Here’s an example using the character quality of dependability:

Dependability is sacrifice and consistent performance.  These past weeks you’ve met every milestone.  Thanks to your dependability our client feels that we’re reliable and will give us more work and I trust you to deliver as promised.

It takes practice and I always work on integrating this high level, high character praise into my interactions with others. 

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Discipline is critical

Jim Rohn, known as one of America’s foremost business philosophers, has addressed over 6,000 audiences and 4
million people worldwide.  He tells us that for every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards.  That’s one
of life’s great arrangements. In fact, it’s an extension of the
Biblical law that says that if you sow well, you will reap well.

Snoopy_reapwhatusowEverything of value requires care, attention, and discipline.  Our thoughts require discipline. We must consistently determine our inner boundaries and our codes of conduct, or our thoughts will be confused. And if our thoughts are confused, we will become hopelessly lost in the maze of life.  Confused thoughts produce confused results.

Remember the law: "For every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards." Learn the discipline of writing a card or a letter to a friend. Learn the discipline of paying your bills on time, arriving to appointments on time, or using your time more effectively. Learn the discipline of paying attention, or paying your taxes or paying yourself. Learn the discipline of having regular meetings with your associates, or your spouse, or your child, or your parent. Learn the discipline of learning all you can learn, of teaching all you can teach, of reading all you can read.Discipline_1

For each discipline, multiple rewards. For each book, new knowledge. For each success, new ambition. For each challenge, new understanding. For each failure, new determination. Life is like that.  Even the bad experiences of life provide their own special contribution. But a word of caution here for those who neglect the need for care and attention to life’s disciplines: everything has its price.  Everything affects everything else. Neglect discipline, and there will be a price to pay.  All things of value can be taken for granted with the passing of time.

That’s what we call the Law of Familiarity. Without the discipline of paying constant, daily attention, we take things for granted.  Be serious.  Life’s not a practice session.

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Leadership Quality #1

Dr. John C. Maxwell is a favorite author of mine.  His philosophy that “everything rises and falls on leadership”
motivates his every endeavor to help individuals reach their highest
potential.  He has communicated his leadership principles to Fortune 500
companies, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and sports
organizations such as the NCAA, the NBA, and the NFL.

In his book, "The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader" he begins by asking if you have what it takes to be a great leader, the kind that attracts people and makes things happen.  The #1 and First Quality is Character.

The short chapter has many concrete points to ponder, study and hopefully live by…but perhaps I can provide two that resonated with me this morning.

  1.     "How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about his character.  Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character but it certainly does reveal it.  Adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise.  Every time he chooses character, he becomes stronger, even if that choice brings negative consequence."
  2.     "A man took his young daughter to a carnival, and she immediately ran over to a booth and asked for cotton candy.  As the attendant handed her a huge ball of it, the father asked, "Sweetheart, are you sure you can eat all that?"

    "Don’t worry Dad," she answered, "I’m a lot bigger on the inside than on the outside."

That’s what real character is – being bigger on the inside.

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