Who Took A Chance On You? How Do You Pay It Forward And Take A Chance On Others?

Leadership Lesson: It’s important to keep in mind those who played a proactive, committed, and invested role in helping you get to where you are today and how you’re paying it forward and doing the same for others.

Leadership is never solely about the here and now. It’s also about developmental accomplishments to date and working toward the future. We take what we’ve gotten and achieved up until now and improve upon it to move forward.

And whether we’re taking stock of the foundation of knowledge, skill, and experience that got us to today, or preparing for the future we need for our mission, ourselves, and our people, we’re never thinking about it alone.

Very rarely does any leader fly solo.

Whether it’s one word of advice or a full relationship, every leader has someone in their past who has contributed to who they are today. Whether it was a mentor, a teacher, a boss, a relative, etc., so many building blocks go toward making the leaders you see around you who they are today.

Related: Mentorships Are The Connections That Bring All The Pieces Together

So, for you, in the course of developing yourself, who were these people? When were they in your life? What did they say? How much did they work with you? What did they see in you? How far did they go for you? How far did they go with you? How did they guide you or help guide you into your future?

Who took a chance on you?

This goes beyond any kind of traditional supervision or management. This is about investment.

There are various levels of investment and commitment that exist when it comes to helping others in the moment. Some may feel it in who they are – their character — that it is their duty, so it’s the right thing to do. Others may see it as being a part of their job description, so they have to do it. Some may see it as a courtesy, while yet another, smaller group exists which may not see the need to truly help someone else at all.

We’ve probably all come across these various types. But very rarely do we come across people who follow through with development beyond today, beyond the moment. These rare contributors don’t just provide advice and direction in the here and now. They follow through to make sure you have the resources, that you’re connected to the right people, and that you’re tapping into the best within you today to develop into tomorrow and beyond.

They recognize the importance of seeing through the process of building someone else up, for the better, into their own goals and achievements.

It’s an amazing opportunity to find someone who recognizes something special in you and can guide you on the right path. It should be more the rule than the exception. Unfortunately, it is very rare.

But, here’s the thing: it can start with you.

You can set the example of how to draw out the best in someone.

It’s not just training. It’s not only advice. And it surely is not merely direction.

It’s curiosity. It’s analysis. It’s motivation. It’s challenges. It’s follow-through.

How might you exhibit those characteristics and actions for someone else?


This is the true leadership power. This is what sets the best apart from the rest – learning about everything around them. Ok. Not everything. But everything that matters. Everything they can utilize to make the things they’re involved in better.

And that includes the person in front of them. The person in front of them is a resource. That person – each person – has resources that a leader may not have or in a form different from that of the leader. Those are the ideas and abilities the leader needs to tap into!

Do you have and demonstrate that curiosity?

RelatedIn Your Leadership: How Do You Help Others Articulate Their Ideas? Part 1


Now, what do you do with that curiosity? If curiosity is the search engine of life, then analysis is parsing the search results of what you find. A leader has to be able to identify what’s in front of them and how to best utilize it. You’ve probably seen instances where one leader leaves an environment, replaced by another who comes into that same environment with the ability to ratchet up the productivity, morale, and results of the group to higher levels.

Part of that ability is breaking down and understanding what’s needed and what each person can provide. In the best examples, the leader can read and determine, through curiosity, who has the best skills for which job, and then analyze to determine how to apply those skills best to what needs to get done.

How do you analyze the abilities of the people around you?


It helps people to know someone believes they can achieve things – or that they should at least try new things. The assists people receive from others are what tend to get us all through our work. Someone believes in us and understands us and what we’re capable of.

They can see from their position what we can do. They can tell us to just keep going. Therefore, people that motivate us truly are partners.

How do you motivate others?


Motivating isn’t enough. It’s not enough to tell someone they can do something. One step further in importance is to put the challenge in front of them. The words of motivation count, but they count most when tackling the likely obstacle that’s bound to invade our path.

Challenges are the lessons and intentions of motivation in action. In them, there are no empty words but instead a firm, guided, and supportive push to get someone to test their limits.

How do you challenge others?


After the curiosity, analysis, motivation, and challenge, then what? This is where the most valuable lessons in paying it forward come through. The lessons above are vital, but the lesson-learning afterwards — the debrief of what was or what couldn’t be – is the true lifelines.

Follow-through is about making sure people take lessons away from their experiences, both the good and the bad. All of the work up until now is for nothing, unless someone can self-analyze themselves and fine-tune their abilities to meet the same challenge again or the take on the one(s) that are sure to follow.

How do you follow through with others?

The same way someone took a chance on you, who do you take a chance on? It may not be your job, necessarily, to take someone under your wing and demonstrate to them what they can do and what they’re made of, but how do you go about doing it anyway?

It makes all the difference in the world to step beyond the niceties of everyday work and management, to get to the heart of who someone really is and what they can deliver.

Related: Mentorships Are The Connections That Bring All The Pieces Together

It can save someone so much time in realizing their unique strengths and abilities to meet someone who is curious enough to learn, analyzes beyond the surface, motivates to action, challenges to test, and follows through to recount what worked and what didn’t.

It doesn’t take as long as it sounds to get to know someone you see potential in and leave your valuable lessons and legacy as a foundational component of their performance.

Share CiO
Hide Buttons