“Great leaders can see the greatness in others when they can’t see it themselves

and lead them to their highest potential they don’t even know.”

                                                                                                                                      – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

This past Friday morning I had the pleasure of spending the day with an extraordinary group of young people attending the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance’s 4th Annual Young Leadership Conference.  This signature community event provided almost 300 students with the opportunity to attend presentations that enhanced their leadership skills, while also pairing them with inspiring mentors from the local business community.  As I looked across the audience, I was reminded of the words of a favorite author, Jim Kouzes and those of my best friend (a.k.a my Dad).  In his book Learning Leadership, Kouzes reminds us, “There are no born leaders…., however, every leader is born.”  The potential for leadership lies within each one of us, however potential is like a seed; it must be nurtured, cared for, given attention and cultivated; only then will it blossom! My Dad used to tell me, “Rick, potential is like a gold bar resting in the depths of the ocean.  It only has value when brought to the surface!”  The same is true of leadership potential, it’s value is realized only when it surfaces.  So how can we help other realize their potential?  We can be a mentor!

Mentoring is a key component to helping others discover their potential. Michael Anguir  believes one of our greatest responsibilities is to support ourselves and others in living at our highest and best.  We need to remember that with our every word and action we influence (positively or negatively) the people we care about.  Therefore it is imperative that we help others discover and live up to their potential.  HIs post, “Top Ten Ways to Help People Realize Their Potential”, provides 10 simple strategies to help others see and realize the best that is within them:

1 Believe in Them – We all have self-doubts from the to time, but remember that history is filled with the stories of great men and women who had someone that believed in them during their darkest moments.

2 Encourage Them – Sincere encouragement can help someone stay the course.  Being specific is even better. For example, “ With each meeting you are demonstrating more and more confidence.  Keep up the great effort!”

3 Expect a Lot – To help people operate at their best, replace REALISTIC expectations with HIGHER expectations.  When we ask people to rise higher, it lets them see further than before.

4 Tell the Truth – And tell it with compassion.  Holding people accountable and being truthful demonstrates your care for the individual you are mentoring.  You may be the only one who can or will say to another what needs to be said.

5 Be a Role Model – Who we are speaks much more loudly than what we say.  Remember, we automatically emulate our role models, and we are ALL role models for someone.

6 Share Yourself – Remember what Brene’ Brown told us, “ Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.”  When you share from your own experience (especially our failures) we increase empathy, are more approachable and increase reliability.

7 Challenge Them – Challenging others is an art, and we all need to be challenged from time to time.  Remind people of their commitment to being their best and then state the challenge.  “I challenge you to get past the trivial things and focus on the task at hand, make the commitment and move forward.” 

8 Ask Good Questions – A good mentor or coach doesn’t tell their client what to do.  They ask good questions to help the individual understand, clarify and make a good choice.  Good questions help others come up with their own solutions.

9 Acknowledge Them – If you are looking for the best in someone, you will see it.  When we acknowledge what people have done well, they tend to replicate their behavior.

10 Spend Time With Them – There is no better investment that we can make than putting time into our relationship; after all relationships are what life is made up of.

Many people who are both wealthy and successful often live a life filled with disappointment and unhappiness.  Which leads to a good question, “ How do we know when we have achieved our own potential?”  Perhaps the answer is found in servant leadership.  Helping others to achieve their potential is a two-way street.  While our actions as mentors serve to help others realize their potential, those same actions create fulfillment and happiness within our own life.  Silvia Turonova’s post, 4 Life Changing Reasons Why You Should Bring Inspiration to Others” sheds some light on that question.

1 You can help others grow – By sharing our life experiences with others we help others grow and realize that there is a better life than the one they have known.  As Zig Ziglar said, You can have everything in life that you want if you just help others get what they want.”

2 You can change a life – Your mentoring, time and inspiration doesn’t cost you a thing, but it may save someone’s future and alter the course of their life.

3 You make the world a better place – People who you help will help others and so on.  Changing and inspiring one life can lead to millions of other lives being changed. 

4 You grow personally – Supporting the needs of others gives you pleasure and makes you happy.  By openly helping others, we help ourselves.  Helping others is a step we must take to help ourselves.

The gold is there, it just takes someone who cares to help bring it to the surface.  Once it surfaces, it is something to be treasured.  If you haven’t already, be a treasure hunter and help someone discover their potential!  If you have, keep it up, you are changing the world and improving your own life!

Embrace the Challenge,