Recently, my wife was asked to write a recommendation for a long-time friend and colleague. In her closing comments, she used a line from my favorite song in my favorite musical, Wicked. The song occurs when Glinda (the "good" witch) and Elphaba (the "wicked" witch) are saying their final good-byes to each other:
I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow
If we let them, and we help them in return
The song goes on to talk about how each of them have been changed for good. So as we were preparing for bed that night, my wife asked me who my "for good" people are (outside of family members). Who are those people who rocked my world and left me a better person for it? It didn't take a lot of thinking to come up with my list and why they were on it:
Brian - a long time friend, introduced me to the career of consulting and pulled me away from cubicle-dwelling big box employment. Even moreso, he saw in me talents that I didn't even see, and he gave me a boost of self-confidence that was lacking at a time in my life when I needed it.
Delaney Kirk - she is the one who raised the bar on my teaching career, who emulated the classroom behaviors I wanted to follow, who championed me within the halls at Drake and guided me to where I am today. I owe her a lot in my teaching success. Recently, a student sent me a message telling me how much I had impacted her life. I forwarded the note to Delaney, thanking her for guiding me on my journey so I could in turn guide others.
Mike Wagner - what an infusion of passion! This guy gets branding, and he's the one who helped me discover my own brand story of Carpe Factum. He jokes with me, challenges me, and is a tried and true sounding board. When it comes to delivering a keynote or speech, my personal challenge is to "be like Mike" in helping my audiences understand the importance of a topic.
MBA254 Spring 2008 - An entire class of 38 students? Am I kidding? Not really. I've been teaching almost 15 years, and I've never had a whole class affect me like this group did. I've never been as moved by a collection of stories and personalities and thought leaders. While they would be surprised to hear this, I learned more about who I am as an educator that semester than they learned about leadership and human capital development. I've had many of them as students in other classes hence, and each as individuals continue to inspire me. Together, they made me fall head-over-heels, passionately in love with the art and craft of teaching, and I haven't been the same professor since then.
Travis - another friend, who serves on the SWAT team I've been researching. He's pretty modest and is going to be irked with that he's on this list, but the friendship I've forged with him over the past two years has taught me much about leadership, integrity, effort, and accomplishment. Our schedules don't mesh often, but when they do, I always come away a much better person for having had the exchange.
There have been others who have impacted my life, some in lesser roles, many family members who continue to support me, some anti-heroes whose negative behaviors convinced me to move in a different direction, but I've been shaped as a person, as a professional, by some outstanding people, and as I sit here in the pre-dawn hours (when I should be sleeping), I think about those who have changed me... for good.