If you’ve been around me any length of time, you know I write and speak about the importance of the five people you spend the most time with and the significance of their influence. Those five people are critical to your success, your attitude and your future.
But today, let’s consider how you got where you are today. As we get started, humor me with this short exercise.
- Name the last 5 Heisman Trophy winners.
- Who are the last 5 winners of the Miss America pageant? You’ll get partial credit if you can even remember the state they represented.
- Can you name the governor of your state in the year you were born?
- Who won the Super Bowl two years ago? Five years ago?
- Who was the second man to step onto the surface of the moon? For that matter, who was the third member of that historic astronaut team who circled the moon while the other two landed in the Eagle?
Tough, huh? Granted, these people may have accomplished great feats and may have inspired you for a moment, but how important were they actually to your upbringing, your day-to-day life and your future?
Now, tell me the answers to these questions:
- Who was your third-grade teacher?
- Who helped you get through the biggest crisis in your life?
- Can you remember your favorite coach?
- Who taught you piano, how to play soccer/baseball or dance lessons?
- Who came to see you or called you when you were very sick?
The most common response is, of course, your parents, as it should be. But when you think of the people who have shaped and molded you into the person you are today, you can quickly add others. Still, that list is likely very short yet memorable.
When you think of the people who have most impacted your life, when you think of the people who have been there for you through thick and thin and when you think of the people who in some way gave their life so that you could become successful and amount to something, it’s not the great names, leaders and famous stars. No, it’s those who didn’t seek attention or fame, but cared about you and personally helped you in some way.
Both Elizabeth and I have people who are indelibly marked on our minds. For years, Elizabeth sent a card each month to a teacher, Mrs Corley. After Mrs Corley passed away, Elizabeth heard from someone how much those cards meant to her.
For me — in addition to my parents — I remember Sunday School class with Tynes Hildebrand in the upstairs classrooms at First Baptist Church. And there’s Mrs Stroud, a high school English teacher who was dearly loved by many for her humor and her strict teaching manner. My grandparents, a pastor and a coach are also on my list. And, #mythreesons.
The people who invested the most in you are the people who helped you to build the foundation you stand on today. They were there to teach you the tough things, remind you of who you are and give you the tools you would need to navigate life. Coaches, teachers, uncles, aunts, pastors or other church leaders, perhaps a boss.
Here’s your assignment for today:
- List the five people who have had the most significant influence on you, especially in your younger formative years. It may be your parents, grandparents, aunt/uncle, teacher, coach, spouse, best friend or someone else.
- Write down as many as five. Then, write down something these mentors taught, told or demonstrated for you (as in role model, example, etc.). Perhaps it’s a quote or saying or something they instilled in you (e.g. integrity, honesty, encouraged you to be you, character). Maybe it’s a special memory.
- Refine this list over the next day or so as you dwell on it.
This group of people represents much of where you are today. Your values, your principles, even your fears, hopes and goals. It’s the bedrock on which you stand now, and it’s the very foundation from which you launch your life every day. Think about it, these five people are responsible in a great way for who you are today!
Now that you’ve completed the assignment, here’s one more challenge. If these five people are still living and you can find them, take a moment and make a call or send a card. Only text or email as a last resort. Your voice or your handwritten note is so much more personal and distinct.
Finally, keep this list in a favorite place: On your refrigerator, in your Bible or favorite devotional, on your bathroom mirror. Review it often and ensure that you are carrying their baton well. These are the people who paved the way for you and have helped you to become the person you are today.
Indeed, these are the heros of your life!