When I was a young boy I was really into dirt bikes and loved nothing more than that smell of a two stroke engine burning the perfect fuel and oil combination. That was many years ago and back then we could ride all over the mountain desert just across the road from the house I grew up in.
One summer, a kid that was a couple years younger than me came over and wanted to ride with me and my friends. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been open to “allowing new people into my group”, so I somewhat cautiously invited him along for the ride that day.
As you know, a couple of years or more age difference is no big deal when you’re an adult, but as a 7th grader, taking responsibility for this 5th grader was a bit out of my comfort zone. However, this kid could ride and quickly proved he was worthy of riding “with the big boys”.
That summer, so many years ago, we formed a friendship that became a lifelong relationship. After high school, we both moved away and went in different directions, but have stayed in good contact, touching base a couple times a year, until Facebook arrived on the scene. He’s called for advice from time to time, but I can’t tell you all the many specific areas that I’ve really influenced his life from my perspective and lens.
Thanksgiving morning as Christy and I were preparing a lovely brunch for my mother-in-law, my phone buzzed with the notice of a new text message. As I found a good stopping point from making the mimosas, I walked over to see the message. Here’s what I found, “Happy Thanksgiving Kenny. I’ve always looked up to you since grade school.” From Tim, my grade school friend!
As I write this for you today with my eyes moist with tears of gratitude, I’m blessed to remind you all that you are mentors! We may not always know who we impact and how, but we definitely influence those around us. And that influence is what being a mentor is all about.
We must embrace the serious responsibility that comes along with being a mentor even if we don’t know who and when we might influence. Since those days on the dirt bikes without a care in the world, I have committed my life’s work to helping make a positive impact in the lives of others. I’m able to do this through the businesses I own, the public speaking I do, and the products I create.
What about you? How do you utilize and maximize your positive influence? Whether you realize it or not, you are a mentor. You have tremendous value to this world and those around you. In fact, you might not even know some of the people you’ve made an impact on.
It could be someone you spent a short time working with in the past. It could be someone that you trained on a new skill or process. It could be someone that has heard about your example from someone else. It very well could be someone from one of your speaking events you don’t even remember. In fact…it could even be a “competitor” of yours.
Earlier this week, one of the greatest and most influential speakers of our time graduated this life to the next step for him. Rest in peace, Zig Ziglar. I had the opportunity to see Zig speak live way back in 1995. It was a smaller venue and he was nothing short of incredibly impressive on every level.
From that day on, Zig Ziglar has been a mentor of mine. If you would’ve asked him my name or if he knew who I was, he might have laughed out loud, or called “The Redhead” over to ask her if she’d ever heard of me. Of course she wouldn’t know who I am either, but none the less, Zig was a mentor of mine.
You have more influence in this world than you might imagine. You don’t have to be one of the most well-known speakers on the planet to be a great mentor. Heck, you could just be a small town kid riding a dirt bike in the desert.
Kenny Chapman is co-founder of Way Beyond Ordinary Speakers, entrepreneur, professional speaker – and Mentor. Learn more about Kenny at www.kennychapman.net