Historically, every great leader had a friend or sidekick he/she was mentoring to become a better person: In the Bible, Moses had Joshua, Elijah had Elisha, Paul had Timothy and Jesus had Peter; in the history of the Wild West, Bonnie had Clyde, Wyatt Earp had Doc Holliday and Frank James had Jesse James. In the world of poetry Ralph Waldo Emerson famously mentored Henry David Thoreau, allowing him to reside in a cabin on his North Eastern property.  Of course, let’s not forget a few of the most important of all…Batman had Robin, Simon had Garfunkel and Ben had Jerry:)

As a leader, you have one or more people that you’re helping to achieve personal transformation along their spiritual, career and family journeys. You’re likely engaged in helping these people in several different ways.  One of the ways leaders help is by equipping others.  A second way is by developing others.  In my last blog I shared the difference between EQUIPPING and DEVELOPING people as a leader.  Dr. John Maxwell, in his book, Becoming A 360-Degree Leader (, distinguishes between these two leadership responsibilities.  Equipping someone, he says, is teaching them how to do a job or acquire a new skill.  Training new employees, showing a child how to tie their shoe or ride a bike, these are examples of equipping.

But developing someone is different.  Developing someone is helping them become a better person.  I’ve already shared with you the process I use to E.Q.U.I.P. someone in how to do a job or gain a new skill.  If you haven’t read that post, you may want to take a look here:

Let’s talk about developing people.  As I’ve mentioned already, every great leader had someone he/she was mentoring to become a better person.  Each had a process they used to successfully bring maturity, wisdom, virtue and experience into this person’s life.  The process I’m creating to develop people is composed of 6 areas. I’ve put them in an acrostic to help me remember. M.E.N.T.O.R. is the acrostic.  Here is its meaning…


I believe your mind is the most powerful success organ in the human body! (tweet that) What do I mean?  I mean that success starts in the mind. All progress, individual transformation and personal improvement first begins in the mind with the thoughts you think.  Centuries ago, a Jewish King named Solomon compiled a book of wise sayings called Proverbs.  One of those wise sayings states: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  You’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat!”  Well, this proverb is saying, “You are what you think!”

There’s a cause and effect relationship between who you are as a person (Character, Conscience, Temperament, Personality, Behavior) and the thoughts you think. The rise of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy as a psychological and psychiatric treatment, perhaps more than anything else, along with the popularity of the Self-Help Industry, has proven the mind-behavior connection that exists inside each of us.  Above all, we’ve learned, “Change your thoughts, change your life!”   The pathway to a better life, and to becoming a better person, runs through the neurological connections networked in the human mind/brain.  The renowned Christian Theologian, Paul the Apostle, wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world.  But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  So, when working with a person toward developing greater levels of character, spiritual capacity or virtue, I first begin with that individual’s mind-set; specifically their mental habits, patterns of thought and usual ways of thinking that have become embedded in them.  Any change or improvement must begin there: IN THEIR MIND!

Areas We Talk About Are:

1. Critical Thinking/Logic: Thinking clearly, using the laws of logic, helps a person maintain a clear mind.  And a clear mind is a powerful mind.

2. Self-Talk: Learning how to better manage and control one’s thoughts by talking to oneself in more positive ways is crucial. Some words or phrases for this are: Inner Dialogue, Mind Chatter and Positive Affirmations:  (etc.

3. Personal Explanatory Style: How a person explains the causes of good and bad events in their lives determines much about their level of personal growth.  Dr. Martin Seligman’s book, Learned Optimism, dynamically outlines this concept.

4.  Prayer: Of course, as the Lead Pastor of a Christian Church, I believe that transformation requires “Divine Intervention”.  Asking God, in His son Jesus Christ, to help this person make the changes they need to, is enlisting the help of the most powerful change-agent known to man: God, their creator.

5. Scripture Reading: There is supernatural power in meditating on and memorizing sacred scriptures.  Every religion has their own preferred sacred writings.  As a follower of Jesus, I recommend The Bible (, as the one book above all others that can help someone become a better person.

6. Personal Growth Plan: We talk about becoming intentional about personal growth rather than accidental.  We discuss the need for the person to put themselves on a consistent growth plan geared to help them improve through daily, weekly, and monthly assignments and ‘growth experiences’.  This kind of plan combines a number of resources such as books, audio lessons, conferences and ‘leadership experiences’ that serve to help this person reach their potential.


Emotional Health is a major goal when helping someone become a better person.  Once we start with THE MIND, we then begin to see the connection between THE MIND and THE EMOTIONS.  We ask questions like:

  • What role do emotions play in a healthy, happy life?
  • What are emotions?
  • Where do emotions come from? What causes our different emotions?
  • How do our emotions help us or hurt us?
  • How do we manage our emotions?
  • What does emotional health look like?

The primary goal here is to help the person develop the personal characteristic of Emotional Maturity.  Emotional Maturity “is (a) the ability to differentiate and properly identify one’s emotions while (b) granting yourself the freedom to experience whatever emotion is appropriate to a given situation. (

An emotionally mature person is learning “When to delay their emotions and when to display their emotions”; “How to appropriately express their emotions”; “How to feel, heal, and be real about all of their emotions”. These attributes are gained through practice and mistake-making. Each of us tries do the right thing.  We mess up.  We fess up.  We ask forgiveness.  We gain reconciliation.  We grow.  We do it again, hopefully, this time a little better. But, sooner or later, we make another mistake and are challenged to grow from it.  Act – Mistake – Learn…this is the spin-cycle of emotional health success.

Any discussion about emotional maturity must include how to handle pressure, stress and the negative feelings that take a toll on a person’s inner self.  Learning to cope stretches this person and increases their capacity to learn, love, live and succeed.  Increasing capacity and learning to cope are both really two sides of the same coin: Meeting Needs.


Every person has needs.  I have them.  You have them.  The people we’re trying to develop have them. A third area I like to help develop in the people I’m mentoring is the ability to see and meet needs.  This is called Servant-Leadership.  This requires growth in two areas: 1) Self-Awareness and 2) Empathy.  Self-awareness is knowing yourself: your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, what energizes you, what drains you of passion, and on and on. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  Jesus said, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”.   Clearly, it is important that each of us “connects” with ourselves in such a way that we come to deeply understand how God has uniquely made us.

Empathy is the flip-side of the same coin. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s position and see life from their perspective.  I’ve always loved David Allen’s quote from his 2001 bestseller Getting Things Done:

“As I have personally matured from year to year, I’ve found deeper, more meaningful, more significant things to focus on and be aware of and do.”

I believe that our needs, as well as the needs of others, is the core of some of those “deeper, more meaningful, more significant things” we can learn to focus on.  Therefore, mentoring someone to become a better person should involve teaching them how to uncover unmet needs within themselves and people around them.  Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs provides a powerful understanding of how to begin seeing needs around us.

But I also like Bobb Biehl’s list, included in his pamphlet Asking to Win.  He also includes them in his book Why You Do What You Do.  Biehl lists the 8 emotional needs people need to have met at work, at home, and at play.  The eight needs are:

  1. The need to be LOVED without conditions
  2. The need to make a SIGNIFICANT difference
  3. The need to be ADMIRED as a hero
  4. The need to be RECOGNIZED as an individual
  5. The need to be APPRECIATED for a job well done
  6. The need to be SECURE
  7. The need to be RESPECTED as an equal peer
  8. The need to be ACCEPTED by the group

Time-consuming, isn’t it?  I mean, reading this list of needs, and thinking of how long it can take and how much effort it would really require for you to not only try to meet these needs in others but teach how to do that with someone you’re mentoring.  Time is the next focus area…


Time-quotes abound, spoken by famous and busy people, on the importance and necessity of making the most of our time while we’re here on earth. Time-management itself is its own industry. Making products and selling tools that help people better use their time has now become a multi-billion dollar business around the world.  I’ve learned a lot about time during my short life; I’ve read a lot of quotes, articles, books, talked with efficient people about what they do, and so on.  One of my favorite truths about time comes from the witty and prolific American poet, Robert Frost, who said:

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

And it does.  Life goes on.  Time marches on.  So, let’s get on with it! Teach the person you’re mentoring to get on with it! Mentoring someone to be a better person should include becoming better with their time.  It’s their most endangered resource.  Money, they can earn that back.  But time, once spent, can never be regained.  So, I want to help people around me learn how to use time to their advantage, so that it becomes their friend not their enemy.

Here, in this area of focus, there are so many different methods you can use to teach Time-Management.  David Allen and Franklin/Covey are two names that jump to mind with all of the strategies, systems and tools you could ever ask for to better invest your energies and actions in time-wise ways.  Pick one, or two, or combine them, or teach what you use, and share this with the person you’re mentoring.  If you don’t, then you won’t prepare them to make the most of the 5th area of mentoring to become a better person…


OPEN DOORS.  All around us doors of opportunity are opening and closing all the time.  Wisdom is knowing which doors in your life are worth walking through, which ones are better left closed and which ones you should really break down. (tweet that)

Seeing opportunities is a life skill.  I like what Pastor Rick Warren says about having the vision to see opportunities.  Rick Warren says:

“Most people think of vision as the ability to see the future.  But in today’s rapidly changing world, vision is also the ability to accurately assess current changes and take advantage of them.  Vision is being alert to opportunities.” (The Purpose Driven Church, p.28)

Seize the opportunity; carpe diem, baby!  Helping someone become a better person is helping them see opportunities for doing good in their life. What kind of opportunities?  Opportunities to encourage, to show love, to receive love, to forgive, to be forgiven, to teach, to learn, to improve, to help others, to serve a greater cause, to connect with God, to give without thought of return, to make this world a better place!  Not just opportunities to ‘get ahead’ but opportunities to ‘be good’ to others.  As the wisdom writer said thousands of years ago, “To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven.”  By helping them see and seize opportunities to be and do good, you’re helping them become a better person, a better human being.


Last comes the ultimate area we all need to grow in: Relationships.  Here, I’m not speaking from a people-skills stand point. I’m not referring to helping the person you’re mentoring become the next Dale Carnegie. In the area of relationships, you don’t want to primarily focus on techniques; like, say for instance, “make sure to make eye-contact when speaking one-on-one”, or be sure to “match the tone and body posture of the person you’re communicating with to build better rapport with them”.  These are ‘techniques’ of relationships.  These are personality issues. Overemphasizing these can cause the person you’re coaching to focus on “getting what they want” out of other people.  We’re not talking about selling but serving.

By relationships, I’m talking about your ‘character’; not so much ‘what you do’ as ‘who you are’.  Who you are, more than what you do, communicates profoundly to people around you.  As you’re mentoring someone to become a better person, don’t just show them techniques, teach them ‘character’ and principle-based living.  One of my favorite authors says it best:

“It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique.” — Dr. Stephen R. Covey (American educator and author, 1932-2012)

Helping another person become a better human being is teaching them how to bring basic goodness to their life.  Because I’m not an expert in “being good” I like to use the teachings of Jesus.  He’s the best person I know!  His teachings act like a blueprint for good living, as well as, in my opinion, living the good life!  Start there.  With Jesus.  Read His words.  Watch His actions. See what happens!  Interaction with Jesus’ words will help produce the character qualities in people that good relationships require: faithfulness, honesty, humility, servanthood, kindness and loyalty.  These are character-based and able to help anyone become a better person.


What process do you use to develop the people around you?



I played soccer for years.  One of the reasons I love soccer, and sports in general, is the presence of clear goals.  In soccer, you have a 12 by 24 goal in which to kick the ball; big space, obvious target.  In basketball, it’s a 10 ft. rim. The objective?  Shoot the ball through the rim more times than your opponent before time runs out.  Golf has a very clear hole in the ground.  You can see it.  There’s no question what your target is: hit the ball in the hole using as few strokes as possible. If only life were as easy as a simple game!  But we all know it isn’t.  In life, so often the goals aren’t set for you, you’ve got to set them.  You’ve got to decide what direction you’re going to go in.  I’ve talked with friends I would consider very successful who’ve confided in me, “Brad, I just don’t know what I even want to accomplish anymore.” How about you? Do you have clear goals you’re trying to achieve?  Do you know what you want out of life?  Let me share a simple 3 step process I use in accomplishing goals.


Allow me to state the obvious: You’ve got to set a goal before you can reach a goal.  I’m not insulting your intelligence.  I just know that, at least for me, this is an important truth I need to be reminded of from time to time. Goals don’t set themselves.  One of the behaviors that helps me envision my future is to activate the power of intention.  What do I mean?  I consciously take my mind off auto-pilot by asking myself a series of critical questions. One of the best ways to “wake up your mind” is by asking it a question.  Asking yourself a pointed question is like taking the car off cruise control: it forces you to put your foot back on the pedal of your own life. What questions should you ask yourself to help you determine what goals you really want to achieve?  I recommend the following:

  • When I was in 4th grade what did I dream of becoming (That never left you.  It’s hidden deep in your heart under piles of “life”)?
  • When I was growing up what was I most known for?  What was my reputation (Connecting with your past, whether good or bad, positions you to conquer your future)?
  • What positive things have people said to you or about you in the past (Observant friends can help “draw out” of us desires and strengths we didn’t even know were there)?
  • What brings you the most joy today?  In your present work?  Current hobbies?  Other interests? (Psychologists say you’re moving toward pleasure and away from pain right now in your life…so, what pleasures are you moving toward?)
  • What person, place or idea automatically pops into your head when you find yourself in a relaxed and un-stressed state (What our mind repeatedly “drifts back to” tends to be something we want or value)?


The Universal Law of Process teaches us that each and every event of reality, including your life and mine, is preceded by a series of sequential causes.  Like dominoes falling in a line, life comes at us one small cause at a time. It’s always a series of steps or little things that happen that cause the bigger things to occur.  As a child I had to learn to crawl before I could walk. I had to experience my 4th birthday before I could reach my 5th birthday. One follows the other in a single-file line.  It’s the same with achieving any goal. Accomplishing your goal will happen through a series of events and causes that you will go through.  Determining which causes and events you need to engage in is the wisdom of putting action steps to the goals you set. Once I settle on a goal in my mind, I then put down on paper (or into my ipad) the next steps that will be required to achieve it.  This is a list of actions I’ll need to take or delegate in order for this goal of mine to become a reality. This is the list of dominoes that must fall in order for my goal to be achieved. For example, if my goal is to spend at least 30 minutes each night before bedtime talking with my kids, then I will write down what will need to happen for this to be achieved.  It might look like this: GOAL: Talk with kids for 30 minutes each night this week from 8 to 8:30 pm before putting them to bed. NEXT STEPS: Leave work by 5 pm each day, get up earlier each morning to finish a few tasks I’d previously left for nighttime work, explain to my boss that I’ll need his/her support as I’ve set my family as a priority, etc. (You get the picture)  Just list the dominoes! This is GOAL-STEPPING: laying out the actual action steps needed to achieve your goal.


JUST DO IT!  Go get that goal of yours.  You’ve set it, now go get it!  This is the step when “the rubber meets the road” and I do, what up until now, I’ve merely talked about doing.  Action.  Activity.  Energy.  Habits.  Behaviors. Movement. Progress.  These are the words that are “awakened” in me and flow through my actions, pulsating out into the world around me.  Thoughts become things. Concepts become concrete.  The abstract becomes fact. Flesh is wrapped around the “bones” of my imagination and my baby (my goal) is birthed out into this big wide world. Pretty cool, huh?


Would you add any steps?  How would you tweak the ones I’ve mentioned? What works for you?