This past week I watched Brian Tracy’s video “Success is a Journey” five times as I facilitated client orientations.

I made the comment each time that not only do I watch this inspiring talk each time I need a boost, I also learn something new each time I see it.

Each of us has come into contact with people who have made a substantial impression on our lives. Sometimes these individuals are with us for a long time and sometimes their tenure is short. The impact can be immediate or it might take many years for the lessons taught to sink in as they become part of who we are.

I have fond memories of someone of this caliber I met for the first time more than 30 years ago. At the time he had some impact on my life but it was only years later that what I learned from him made a significant and lasting impression that still is with me today.

It was not an auspicious start. He was suspicious of my intent and his lack of patience was legendary. We had similar goals but his perspective was that of suspicion. After being chewed out a few times, I started to understand his goals. What he taught me, over a period of six years, was invaluable. I surfaced as one of the few individuals he could see that had potential as a student. His subject was business.

Thomas Huxley wrote, “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.” That was my mentor.

I noticed immediately that he set boundaries in his life. When he was at work, he worked very hard. At the end of the day, he went home to his family.

Late one afternoon I walked into his office and he was reading a magazine. I thought it was rather odd behavior; sitting there wasting time. Little did I know he was “sharpening his saw” by staying abreast of the industry and marketplace.

He went by the book. No one else in the company went through the process of writing a formal business plan each year. He stuck to it, despite many opportunities to stray off course.

It might have just been my imagination, but I observed many leaders at our employer jump from strategy to strategy, searching for the silver bullet, the one trick that would solve every revenue, client, production and profit problem that existed.

While everyone else was still searching for the Holy Grail, that now dog-eared plan was still being executed.

He ignored the crisis of the day (and there were plenty to chose from) and didn’t get distracted trying to handle every piece of paper once or returning telephone calls at the same time each day.

All of these things worked in conjunction for this gentleman to succeed. It wasn’t a gloating kind of success; no champagne or swagger. Just a matter of fact and oh by the way, let’s get back to work.

Our lives are busy and we don’t take the time we should to realize how lucky we are to have been taught by others along the way. We don’t take time to thank those that gave us a helping hand, taught us a skill or provided perspective we needed. This week, take time to show your gratitude to those that cared enough to invest in your potential.

Thanks Mitch! You were a great mentor and friend to me.