The Making of a Role Model

Did you know that November is National Inspirational Role Models Month? It’s an opportunity to celebrate the people in our lives that we look up to, the people who inspire us to follow our dreams, overcome obstacles in our way, and be the best we can be. And if you don’t have any role models in your life, it’s an opportunity to cultivate some.

No Man is an Island

Our culture values individuals and individual achievement to the point where it often glosses over the reality that many people are involved in any successful endeavor. A pop singer is lauded for their best-selling album, but they had songwriters, producers, studio musicians, sound engineers, artists, marketers, managers, and so on working with them to make that album a reality. Their album – and their success – wouldn’t exist if not for the team.

It’s this way for all of us. What we can do is be proactive in creating the team around us who will help us in our endeavors, including role models to inspire us to go beyond our comfort zone and reach for the stars. 

Pushing Yourself on Purpose

If you’re the best player on your basketball team, you’ll have a hard time improving. There’s no incentive to grow; no one to push you. You need someone who’s better than you to up your game.

That principle is as true in business as it is in basketball. That’s why you should work to cultivate a network of people around you who are where you want to be: people who have dreamed big and achieved their goals, people who are smarter, more experienced, and more successful than you. You’ll not only draw inspiration from them as role models, but you’ll be moved to improve yourself and your own life.

Some people do the opposite. They surround themselves with people who are less successful, have achieved less, and haven’t followed their dreams. This can feel gratifying – who doesn’t want to feel like Top Dog sometimes? But in the long run, it won’t assist you in achieving your life goals. If this is you, I urge you to give up your desire to have the upper hand and start widening your circle to include people who inspire you.

Identifying Your Inspiration

I’ve long believed in the power of role models and mentors; my life has been shaped by them in important ways. In fact, they were so influential that I dedicated my book to the two biggest male role models in my life, my grandfather Joe Grossi and my father-in-law Dale Choate. But there have been others, including Dr. Skoglund, an incredible clinician, who reached out to me when I was struggling in dental school and told me he had faith in me. His simple show of support at a time I needed it most made a huge difference in my life, a difference I doubt he fully realized. My wife is another one; she inspires and guides me to be the best I can be. These are the people I’ve added to my team over my lifetime, and without them I would not be where I am today. 

If you have a role model, reach out and thank them this month. If you don’t, set yourself the task of identifying some. It can make all the difference in your destiny.

Realted post: Developing Your Core Values and Sticking to Them

Becoming a Leader & The Law of Reciprocation

Leadership is a fascinating topic to me. Most people are not natural born leaders, but they learn the skill of leadership like any other skill in business or in life. It’s something you master over time. Here are some of my thoughts on leadership and what I call the law of reciprocation.

What it Really Takes to Be a Leader 

When we think of a “leader,” we may think of the CEO of a big company. But you don’t have to hold a prestigious position or impressive title to be a leader. There are many different ways to become a leader in the world.

Maybe you want to help people in your community. Or maybe you become a leader by being the best you can be at work and inspiring others. You can lead by changing systems or processes. Or, you can help create a new and better company culture by setting a positive example through your leadership. 

At the core of leadership is a desire to make a difference in the world. As long as you have that desire and act on it, you can be a leader. Leadership, in essence, is influencing others in a positive manner in big ways and small. 

The Law of Reciprocation

Leadership is enhancing your influence over others and inspiring them to follow you. To follow you, they must believe in you. But first, you need to believe in them. That’s the law of reciprocation. You must believe that they are great and that they want to help you along your journey. You believe in them, and they believe in you.

Usually, “being a follower” is considered to be a negative thing. It implies that the follower has no imagination and no self-direction. But I believe that a great leader knows when to lead but also knows when to follow. A true leader is as much a follower as a leader.

A great example of this is in the 2018 movie 12 Strong. It’s based on a true story about a U.S. Army Special Forces team[1] who helped take down the Taliban in key locations in Afghanistan after 9/11. The main character, played by Chris Hemsworth, is a true leader. It is obvious that all his team loves him, and he loves them too. They have that reciprocal belief in each other. He has the intuition to know when to take on the leadership role and when it’s okay to step back, becoming a follower. This true story is a great example of the law of reciprocation.

Leadership is Earned

No matter your title or position, remember that leadership is earned. Never is leadership something you’re automatically entitled to. Someone in charge may boss their subordinates around, but that doesn’t make them a leader. 

It takes work to become the leader you want to be. Not a day goes by that I don’t fail in leadership on some level. But I know that, like any other skill, I will master leadership the more I work at it. I’m working hard to earn the privilege of leadership because I am driven by the desire to make a difference in the world. You can do the same.

Develop Your core Values

Developing Your Core Values and Sticking to Them

I strive to be a man of true character. It’s something I admire greatly in other people and something I continuously work on. To me, true character is about being the same person in public as you are behind closed doors. It aligns with your purpose. It’s who you are. 

True character is built on core values. It’s by understanding, developing, and living your core values that you can be a person of true character. 

Developing Your Core Values 

Your core values are the values you most prize and want to embody. You likely already embody some and have room to work on embodying the others. Examples of these values include honesty, integrity, candor, compassion, and excellence. 

If you’re not already clear on what your core values are, then take the time now to do that. Get a piece of paper and write down the answers to these questions that will help you develop your personal set of core values. Don’t worry about answering each question with a value itself, just write what comes to you. 

  • What are characteristics I look for in myself?
  • What characteristics I admire in other people?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • Where do I need to grow?
  • Who do I aspire to become? 

Out of your answers you’ll be able to find patterns and discover what truly matters to you, and then you can assign a value noun to those ideas.

Living Your Core Values 

Now that you have defined your core values, you face the lifelong mission of living them. Here are some ways to do that.

Keep your values front and center. You can write them down on a piece of paper that you keep near where you work so you can see them often. 

Be clear on what your core values look like in action. For example, if integrity is one of your values, then know what behaviors are the behaviors of a person with integrity. A person with integrity tells the truth. They do the right thing, even if it’s not in their best interest. They treat other people with dignity. And so on. Do this for each of your values. 

If you aren’t yet embodying a value as much as you’d like to, find opportunities and start expressing it. This is how you take your core values from an intellectual exercise to a way of living. 

Sticking to Your Core Values 

Understand that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for most people to live their core values 100% of the time. When people are in stressful situations, they can behave in a way that’s not true to their values. If this happens to you, give yourself a break, and promise yourself you’ll do better next time. Commit to living your core values and you’ll see yourself change over time as you embody and express them more and more. This is how you build true character.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

There’s a lot to be said for staying in your comfort zone. After all, that’s where you thrive. In your comfort zone, you have the knowledge and skills you need to succeed and you know exactly what to expect.

But there’s no progress in the comfort zone. No innovation or invention. Just imagine what the world would be like if everyone stayed in their comfort zone and never dared to try anything new. We’d be stuck with the same technology, the same knowledge, and the same attitudes as in the past.

That’s why you need to get out of your comfort zone. It’s only when you dare to leave it that amazing things can happen in your life.


What’s Holding You Back?

Is it fear? Maybe you fear the humiliation of other people seeing you fail publicly, or maybe you don’t have the resilience that can help you pick yourself up and move on after failing.

Is it lack of self-confidence? Maybe you have dreams but you don’t believe you are actually capable of reaching your goal.

Is it your external circumstances? Maybe your family or friends are holding you back, discouraging you from upsetting the status quo. Maybe you don’t have the time, or the money, or the space to do whatever it is you dream of doing.

If you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions, then I have something to tell you: these are all excuses. You can overcome fear, you can build up your self-confidence, you can expand beyond your current circumstances. In fact, getting out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to do all these things. You just first need to recognize that you are in control of your life.


What’s Waiting for You

It’s almost impossible to take your life or your business to a new level if you stay in your comfort zone. What’s more, that little voice whispering inside you, reminding you of your dreams, telling you what you should be doing, that voice will disappear if you continue to stay in your comfort zone and ignore it. Your creative energy, your visions, and your dreams will die.

What you need to do is take bold action. Many people make the mistake of waiting for the universe to act first and give them what they need in order to start pursuing their dreams but that’s backwards. You need to act first, then the universe will align on your behalf.

For me, it was only when I stepped out of my comfort zone of being a dentist with a conventional practice that I began to explore my full potential and realize my dreams of being a motivational speaker, author, and coach. It wasn’t easy and it was definitely scary at times, but it was 100% worth it.


Don’t Do It for Yourself

If you’re feeling reluctant about taking that first big, bold step, think of it this way: It’s not about you. The more you step out of your comfort zone, the more you’ll be able to impact others in a profound way. It’s when you live your purpose that you can truly affect change and help the world improve, a little bit at a time. It all starts with that purposeful step into the unknown.

Learn about How to Be The Best You.

become a leader

Become the Leader You Were Always Meant to Be

Are you the leader you want to be? Whether you’re at the top of a multi-national company or the leader of your family unit, it’s always smart to work on becoming a better leader. I believe that anyone can be an effective leader as long as they are deliberate. Here’s my advice on how you can become the leader you were always meant to be.   

Know Where You’re Going – and Have a Plan to Get There  

You can’t be a leader if you don’t know where you’re going. Having vision on behalf of a group is one of the hallmarks of a successful leader. You need to be able to see what the end result will look like and express that vision to the people you’re leading.  

Now that you know where you’re going, make a plan to get there. This plan will consist of one overarching goal and many smaller goals that help you move from Point A to Point B all the way to Point Z. Don’t leave too much to chance. It’s better to have a plan that you later change than to have no plan at all. When you have a plan, you can measure your progress against it and make sure you’re still on track. Without a plan, you may find yourself leading in circles with nothing to show for the work you’ve done together.  

Work Your Goals  

Write down your goals. It’s not enough to have them in your mind. You must write them down. This is a simple exercise but a very powerful one that is the first step in making your dreams manifest in the real world.  

Once they’re written down, read them aloud twice a day. Speaking them out loud into the universe is another simple but powerful exercise. It signifies that you’re not keeping your goals to yourself, but sharing them with others. It’s also powerful to share your goals with other people. They can hold you accountable along the way.  

Another powerful thing happens when you write down your goals and share them with others. You get your mind working on your behalf. While your conscious mind may be on other matters, your subconscious mind is going to work without you knowing it, looking for solutions and opportunities to bring to the surface when the time is right.  

Go Get What’s Yours  

Don’t wait for others to hand you what you want on a silver platter. If you think life works that way, you’re in for a rude surprise. You have to go out there and get what you want – get what’s yours. You’ll never find a shortcut that means you can achieve your goals without taking action and doing the hard work, so stop looking for one.  

Instead, commit to the hard work and cultivate discipline in yourself to do what you need to get done every day. This is how leaders and other successful people achieve their goals. 

Become the Leader You Envision  

Great leaders blend practical skills with the ability to dream clearly and dream big, and that’s what the steps above guide you through. You can see that when it’s broken down like this, it’s not intimidating. You can become the leader you’ve always wanted to be. Start by believing it’s possible, then take the next step.

Trust Your Instincts

You’ve probably had this experience with your GPS while driving: your GPS tells you to turn but you miss the turn anyway. Your GPS then announces that it’s recalculating and comes up with a new route to get you to your original destination. It may take a few minutes more, but you get to the same place in the end. The GPS never wavers in where it’s guiding you to. I like to think of each of us as having an “internal GPS.” I suppose this is another way to talk about our instincts. When we listen to our instincts – when we follow our GPS – it invariably leads us to the place we need to go.

Using Your Internal GPS

How do you use your internal GPS? Start by programming it with the coordinates of your destination. Ask yourself where you want to go today, this month, this year, in your life. Next, check that the coordinates you’ve programmed in align with the goals you’ve set for yourself. Does the destination you’ve chosen move you closer to your goals? Or does it move you further away? Your internal GPS is one of the strongest tools you have in your toolbox to help you achieve your goals, so make sure it’s leading you on the right path.

Trust in your internal GPS. If you’re clear on where you want to go and you know it aligns with your goals, it won’t steer you wrong. It will even work with your subconscious and the universe to get you where you want to go. It’s the best in the business.

Getting Off Track in Life

Sometimes life gets in the way and prevents us from following our GPS to our destination for a while. Other times, we’re the cause of the detours that take us off track. An associate of mine got off track in a big way several years ago. He spent more and more time drinking and taking prescription drugs than he did practicing as a dentist. He even lost his license for writing prescriptions using other doctors’ names and went to jail for a while. His wife left him and took the children. His old life as he knew it was gone.

But at a certain point he decided he’d had enough and it was time to change. He changed his priorities from drugs and alcohol to rebuilding the life he had before his addiction. I’m happy to say he succeeded. He’s broken free of the demons from his past and he’s working again as a successful dentist. His internal GPS was still there when he was ready to listen to it, trying to guide him back to the life that was meant for him. It’s the same as when you’re on the highway heading towards your destination and you punch in a detour to the gas station. As soon as you leave the gas station, the route to your original destination is still there. You just have to follow it.

No matter whether the detour was caused by you or circumstances outside your control, understand that detours happen and they don’t mean the journey has come to an end. It may turn out that the detour has happened for a reason, perhaps to teach you a lesson or make you grow as a person. Just commit to getting back onto the route as soon as possible.

Listening to Your Internal GPS

When you find yourself at a crossroads, be still and tune into your internal GPS. It will tell you whether to turn left or turn right or carry on straight ahead. Follow that voice you hear telling you which way to go. The journey it takes you on may not be easy – in fact, I can almost guarantee you that it will be difficult – but when it’s aligned with your bigger goals, the universe will work to lay the right path open at your feet. Trust in your GPS and you’ll go places you never knew possible.

Why & How Planning Gets You to the Top

Imagine you’re in the middle of an unfamiliar place. You have an idea of where you want to end up, but you don’t know how to get from where you are to where you want to be. You have no map. It’s the same with goals. Many people have an idea of what they’d like to accomplish in life, but they have no plan – no “map” to get to there. Yet a plan is essential if you want to reach your goals.

A Game Plan for Your Life

Football teams practice all week in preparation for a game. They have plays they run over and over until they know them by heart. They have strategies in place based on their knowledge of the opposing team. They have a game plan for game day because they have one goal, to win, and they know there’s no chance of winning if they don’t plan for it.

Do you have a game plan for your life? If not, why not? You know where you are now (your starting point) and you know where you want to end up (your goal). This is the basic information you need to start putting together a game plan for your own life.

Without a plan, you may stumble towards the vague direction of your goal, but you will never be able to make the purposeful strides towards your goal that enable you to become a top performer. You need a plan with a purpose.

When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

It happens. The football team’s plays don’t work. Your plan to reach your goal wasn’t quite right. This is not the time to give up on the goal. This is the time to make adjustments to the plan and adapt to the new situation.

Though this may seem like a setback at first, it can actually be a great opportunity for growth. A setback requires you to think about how to reach your goal differently. It may require you to go outside your comfort zone to try something new. Football teams do this when they run a brand new play. You can do it, too.

I learned this lesson about being flexible after being a business owner for many years. I realized the game plan can change every day, and it’s recognizing that change, and being able to adapt to it, that helps me continuously evolve into a better leader.

Top Performers Plan

It’s probably not surprising to learn that people who are the top performers in their fields all have a game plan that helps them win at the game of life. They have a goal and move towards that goal systematically. They understand that when their plans don’t work, it’s not a failure, but rather an opportunity to change the plan to something even better and grow in the process.

You can be a top performer in your field, too. You first have to create and commit to a plan. Know what you want. Work on your craft every day and embrace the practice and repetition that’s required to get better at it. Put your plan into action and expect setbacks along the way; embrace, them, too. They’re what help you grow along your journey. By keeping your plan front and center in your mind, you will have the map that’s the key to achieving your goals.

What Impact Could YOU Make? (Gaining Happiness in Helping Others)

Too many of us go through our lives focusing on ourselves and our own needs. This ignores the immense power at our fingertips to be purposeful when it comes to having an impact on the lives of those around us. Because we all, each and every one of us, impact the lives of other people whether we think we do or not.

The question is, if you were intentional about the impact you had in others’ lives, what would that be?

A Pebble or a Boulder

The first reaction to hearing this may be “I don’t matter enough to make an impact on other people.” But this isn’t true. We can’t see the full extent of the impact we make because one action can set off a chain reaction, like dominos, that reaches far beyond the starting point.

Imagine a boulder hitting water and the way it causes a large splash followed by ripples. Now imagine a pebble hitting water and the way it causes a tiny splash followed by ripples. Yes, at first the boulder makes a much larger impact. But both the large boulder and the small pebble cause ripples that move further and further out. Even the pebble, which seemed so insignificant at first, causes repercussions felt far away. There’s no such thing as “too small” when it comes to making an impact.

Intentional Impact

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a “boulder” or a “pebble.” The choices you make, the things you say, and the way you treat people are all part of the impact you have on peoples’ lives.

Knowing this, you can choose to be intentional about how you impact others. You can choose to be positive and supportive rather than negative and critical. You can smile and open the door for a stranger or perform a random act of kindness. Those small, positive actions will have a ripple effect you aren’t even aware of.

Or you may want to have a huge impact! You may want to affect millions of lives in a positive way. You may have a message to spread or a gift to share. You should do it, and you can.

Either way, you’re spreading positivity and, in the process, gaining happiness yourself. After all, there’s nothing more gratifying than helping others.

Get the Universe Involved

Have you ever partnered with the universe? I have. Many times. It’s not as hard as you think, and it’s even more powerful than you can imagine.

Once you’ve decided on the kind of impact you want to have, you can get the universe involved to help you out. You do this by committing. Whatever your goal or your dream is, you commit to making it come true, no ifs, ands, or buts. This shows the universe that you have faith in yourself, you believe you’re worthy of your dreams, and you’ll stop at nothing until you reach them. In turn, the universe opens doors and puts the people and resources in your path to help you. This is a powerful way to intentionally work towards having the impact you want in the world.

The Happiness Connection

Having a positive impact on the lives of others can bring you happiness. Being intentional about the impact you’re having, and working with the universe to make that impact even bigger and better, can spread that happiness from you to hundreds, thousands, even millions of others.

Recognize that you impact others every day. Then decide exactly how you want to impact people from now on, and work with the universe to make that happen. You can be the catalyst to make change in the world all while becoming happier yourself. Now that’s win-win.