Leadership Lessons—Recharge that Battery!

I’m in the Phoenix airport Wednesday afternoon headed back to Dallas—then the two-hour drive home to Waco, Texas. My cell phone is almost out of juice. My iPad is almost out of power. I sit at the bar with my laptop on, my iPhone plugged in and my iPad plugged in. All of the information I wanted was on my iPad … and I could not make phone calls.”

Does this sound familiar? Has this ever happened to you? There is magic, isn’t there, when one is able to recharge their batteries. I believe, however, that as leaders we have to recharge our batteries just as we need to recharge the batteries on our most import devices—the devices we can’t live without.

Last week I attended an event called “The Secret Knock.” This event, which is by invite only, was held in San Diego for three days and is the brainchild of Greg Reid—an author of 49 books (and is still writing). Greg was a featured speaker for The Dwyer Group last year at our Leadership Summit. When he announced the event I knew it was one that I needed to attend—as I am a firm believer that, as leaders, we have to find way to recharge our batteries.

The challenge is, how do we as leaders recharge our batteries? I think Greg hit on it in the first 10 minutes of the seminar. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was a mentor of Greg’s and very influential in his business life. He made the statement, “We are the same as we will be in five years except for the people we meet and the books that we read.”

I thoroughly believe this. Last year at a different Dwyer event I heard speaker Walter Bond say, “Your income will be the average of your five closest friends.” This gives credence to Tremendous’ statement.

In three days of meetings I saw a number of motivation/business speakers. Just a few were:

—Dr. Gene Landrum—Creator of Chuck E. Cheese;
—Randy Jones—Lead singer of Little River Band;
—The man who started Online Poker—only to experience a black Friday and see it outlawed;
—The person who started “Make a Wish Foundation”—Frank Shankwitz;
—Brian Smith—Creator of Uggs;
—Sharon Lechter—International Speaker and Author of “Think and Grow Rich for Women;”
—Judy Sheppard Missett—Founder of Jazzercise;
—Dina Dwyer-Owens, CEO of Dwyer Group and more than 1,700 franchisees with seven brands; and
—VA Shiva Ayyadurai—Who invented email in 1978 at the age of 14.

The list gets much longer but I wanted to give you an example of just some of the people who attended Greg Reid’s event. Each one of these people had a story of what it took to get to the point where you will recognize them today. Each one echoed how difficult it was and how much easier it would have been to have quit.

The other thing that made an impression on me was the people who attended the event. Many successful leaders attended. Why? They, like me, believe it is important to recharge their batteries and to find new mentors.

This week’s question? Who are your mentors? I’ve changed my opinion in the past few years. I always thought it was good to have a mentor. Now I think it is mandatory to have several for the various segments of your business. I’ve never met one person who is an expert at all the phases of business.

Next, what are you doing to recharge your batteries? What are you reading? Who are the people that are not afraid to hold you accountable?

Being a great leader is hard. I know, however, that I am much better this week than I was two weeks ago just by the people I met in three short days.

I’m proud to say that Greg Reid is now one of my mentors. I think I’ll stay close to him.

Leadership Lessons—Hand Out or Hand Up?

Had a chance in my travels to “go home” last week. Back in the Midwest. Took some personal time to play golf with my son and conduct business in the Chicago area.

I had the pleasure of spending an entire morning with one of our long-time vendors. In a previous life I was partners in a business in the same small town where this vendor is located.

I knew this owner of this business, Brian, was from this small town. Brian is not what you’d call a big fish in a small pond. He is a whale in this community—to the point of serving in the legislature … although he hates politicians! (Don’t we all for the most part?) He owns 15 different companies now and fights for small business with all the people in the government who have no idea what it is like looking at the checkbook on a Thursday night trying to figure out how you’re going to pay everyone in a few hours.

As we wrapped up lunch, Brian recognized one of his young employees having lunch with her mother. I found out later that he quietly found their waitress and paid for their lunch. I knew at that point he was an expert on leadership! When we got back to his office our conversation drifted towards leadership.

I asked Brian what drove him to success. I learned he grew up in the projects and was actually in the lowest percentile of his class. He said that “he always needed a hand up … not a hand out.” Once he found out what he could accomplish because of a hand up he began a life of continually challenging himself to do more.

Profound! I could related to that and imagine many of you can as well. We didn’t need handouts, we needed opportunities. As I drove home I thought about all of the people who gave me a hand up. Time after time there was someone willing to give me a hand up. Most of the time it was an employer who took a chance on me. Earlier in life it was teachers.

Brian’s perspective on this form of leadership reminded me of a movie that came out 15 years ago, Pay it Forward with Helen Hunt, Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and invest $10 to get the DVD on Amazon.

The premise of Pay it Forward is giving someone a hand up. Haley Joel Osment, as a young student, would try and help someone and then challenge that person to do the same thing with three people. Suddenly there were people all over the world helping others because someone helped them—wanting and expecting nothing in return.

I am in no way saying that there aren’t people who need a hand out. Many of us face difficult challenges at some point. I am saying, however, that we all need to focus on seeking and giving a hand up. We all have amazing contributions to make, and sometimes we just need a chance to share them.

Think back on your life. Who gave you a hand up? Better yet, how many people gave you a hand up? What have you been able to accomplish because of these gifts?

Look at your own life today and your many communities: Work, home, children, other family members, church, etc. Who can you affect by giving someone a hand up? What difference can you make in their life because you did this?

In the next week remember those folks who gave you a hand up and send them a note of thanks. I bet you most of them will not even realize they did this—it was just their style.

Then, pay it forward.

Have a great week.