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Your Idols Influence Who You Become

We must choose our idols carefully. They shape our character and in turn our character shapes our lives.



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Without realizing it at the time, my brother was my first role model. 

Chuck is 12 years older than me, and as a boy I always looked up to him (and not just because he was a lot taller than me). He was cool and drove a convertible Austin Heely with spoked wheels. His hair style was vintage 1960s and he had a bushy beard. Most importantly, he knew how to do stuff behind a water ski boat — which most accounts for why I idolized him. 

When he slalom skied, his elbow touched the water and his spray was as high as a house. He took part in five-man pyramids, and he built his own jump ramp from which he routinely threw 360s. But most impressive for the crowd was how he would come by the dock, riding on a round piece of plywood, grab a chair, stand on it, and then spin around in endless circles! I really wanted to be like him. 

In time, I learned many of these tricks, too, eventually adding my own mark when I learned how to ski barefoot at age 16. Chuck also showed me how to ride a skateboard and do a turnaround fadeaway jump shot. I admired him and sought to emulate his daring and his showmanship. 

Dad and Granddad made an impression, too 

My Granddad lived to be 94, but he passed away before I turned 20 and I didn’t get to know him the way I wish I had. He was legendary for his integrity, and I learned from him the importance of being honest. He also modelled the virtues of working hard, prioritizing family and caring for those less fortunate. He taught his grandkids to save by offering us $10 for every $90 we saved on our own. 

My Dad was a lot like Granddad, but more of a visionary. He’s the reason there are five towers in the heart of our city with our family name on them. He’s also the main reason that our family company was voted one of the top 100 companies to work in Canada.

He genuinely cared about our employees and our customers. Because of Dad, we had an incredibly loyal work force and numerous customers who, for more than 50 years, employed us to construct virtually everything they built.  

From Granddad and Dad, I learned about honesty and hard work. They never sat me down to explain these things — they just lived their values. As a result, I picked up much of what they modeled. 

Iconic leaders can teach us virtues 

Just as members of my family inspired me, I’ve been inspired by many notable leaders. By studying their lives, each has motivated me to cultivate the character traits they exemplified.  

Ben Franklin – Humility: It’s been said that “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but instead is thinking of yourself less.” Franklin put this into action in his life by deciding to deny himself the privilege of disagreeing with others.  

I’ve sought to follow his example for the past several years. This one idea has transformed both my personal and my professional relationships. By seeking to emulate him, I’m becoming a better leader. 

Nelson Mandela – Forgiveness: Forgiveness isn’t often discussed in business settings. As one of my clients noted, “It’s squishy and emotional, and business is supposed to be impersonal and all about spreadsheets. However, businesses are made of people, and humans are messy.” If we’re going to have any relationships that last, we’ll eventually need to forgive or be forgiven. 

Nelson Mandela has been inspirational for me as I seek to learn the art of forgiveness. When elected President of South Africa after spending 27 years in prison, instead of seeking revenge he chose to forgive. If he can find it in his heart to be forgiving, why shouldn’t I be willing to let go of the hurts or disappointments others may have caused me? 

Mahatma Gandhi – Listening: Gandhi has dramatically influenced me to realize the power in listening. After the non-violent revolution in India began, Gandhi faced fierce opposition and his opponents often wrote letters to him that criticized his approach. Learning that one of his loyal aids had hid all the critical letters, Gandhi’s response was remarkable. He said, “I need the negative letters. My critics are my best friends — they show me what I have still to learn.” What a liberating insight!  

Rather than reject criticism, Gandhi chose to embrace it and learn from it. His detractors became his tutors. Gandhi’s willingness to listen is helping me to be more open to other people’s viewpoints. 

Our idols shape us 

Those who we look up to can have a radical impact on our lives. My brother’s athleticism and creativity had a lasting positive impact on my life, mostly without me even noticing. So too did my Granddad’s honesty and integrity. And as I grew and developed as a leader, I started actively seeking to adopt more of my Dad’s visionary leadership style.  

In more recent years, the leaders who I’ve come to admire have helped shape me in many ways. As a result, I’ve come to realize that we must choose our idols carefully. They shape our character and in turn our character shapes our lives.

David C. Bentall is founder of Next Step Advisors and has been advising family enterprises for over 25 years. He has also personally experienced succession in his family’s real estate and construction businesses. Additionally, he is a gifted author, coach, speaker and facilitator. His new book, Dear Younger Me: Wisdom for Family Enterprise Successors (Castle Quay Books, May 3, 2021), explores the character traits critical for navigating the interpersonal demands of a family business enterprise. Learn more at

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Success Advice

Mastering Self-Management for Success: Lessons From Peter F. Drucker

With careers no longer following a straight, predictable path, self-awareness and adaptability are essential for success.



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How to Ignite the Spark Within for Future Success

All of us come to this world with our own reserve of magic unfortunately, not everyone can unleash it



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How Your Beliefs Can Supercharge or Sabotage Your Success

Your life is dictated by beliefs and biases that drive your thinking, behaviors, and decisions



Your Beliefs Can Supercharge or Sabotage Your Success (1)
Image Credit: Midjourney

Pause for a moment and ponder two pandemic-era beliefs: First, closing schools will control the spread of a serious virus. Second, the consequences of such school closures—particularly social interruption and the prevention of immunity—are worse than becoming sick with the virus. (more…)

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Success Advice

How to Break the Cycles of Mediocrity and Manifest Your Greatness

There is no greatness without becoming and there is no becoming with authenticity



Image Credit: Midjourney

In just a few weeks, we will be wrapping up 2023. Can you believe it? This year has been absolutely incredible for me.

I have seen amazing doors opened, new relationships formed and I am seeing dreams realized in my life. While this seems like the hallmarks of a great year, this has also been the most challenging year of my life. With all of the change happening in my life, I have been forced out of my comfort zone and challenged to grow in every area of my life.

I can truly say that I have made the most of my moments this year and I have used everything as a catalyst for maximizing my greatest potential.

As a revolutionary leader, I have the pleasure of consulting and advising leaders around the world to fulfill purpose, realize their greatest potential and make an impact.

I want to share some insights with you that will help you to break cycles of mediocrity and manifest your greatness

Everything legal must come through the matrix

I am sure that some of you are wondering why I am using the term matrix. However, what you have to understand is that I am trying to make a highly complex spiritual principle practical to understand.

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, every life has an origin and I believe that origin is divine and begins with eternity. You are birthed from eternity and into time to fulfill a unique purpose and assignment in your lifetime and generation.

The matrix is simply the portal or vehicle that brings something out of the invisible realm and into tangible form. The problem with much of the teaching today is that it excludes the matrix. We are told to believe that success is instantaneous and overnight.

Nobody talks about how a dream progresses through stages beginning with visualization and ultimately culminating in manifestation. Without a matrix or portal then everything that you attempt to birth and build will be illegal.

The matrix not only makes you legal but it gives you the authority and power to function as the greatest expression of who you were created to be. 

Every matrix has an incubation process

While many people admire and respect me today, I remember a time when nobody knew who I was or the significance of my message. How did I get to where I am today? I got here through an incubation process.

In other words, everything that has been destined for your life is incubating and awaiting a set time of manifestation. The problem is that most people live their entire lives idle and never initiate the incubation process.

What do I meany by that? Most people are living reckless and very few people are living intentionally. I am amazed at the number of people I have conversations with that have no vision, goals or strategies for their lives. They show great promise and they have undeniable potential.

However, without development they will die with their dreams still in them.

Everything that has been destined for your life must be incubated and converted to become realities born to time. 

“Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin to build.” – Robert Collier

You must give expression to that which is not yet born to time

When you think about a matrix or a prophetic incubation process, you have to understand that potential is often unrealized and untapped. In other words, your potential is in raw form and your potential cannot serve you as long as it is untapped.

The thing that makes me valuable is that I have the ability to convert potential into power. I have done it in my own life and I have empowered leaders around the world to do the same. How do you convert potential into power?

First, it is important to note that you have to perceive potential. If you cannot perceive your potential then you can never cultivate your potential. In addition, you must take the time to cultivate your potential. We often get excited about our capabilities; however, we never expand our capacity in order to realize our greatest potential.

In other words, the strength of your potential is only discovered through your willingness to stretch. The more we are challenged the more we are empowered to expand our capacity for greatness. Most of all, you must begin to express your potential. The expression of potential is different for every person.

For example, the expression of my potential is best demonstrated through the thoughts, ideas, products, services, books, etc.

For another person the expression of potential may look like a screenplay, artwork, sports, scientific discoveries, medical breakthroughs, etc.

Regardless of the form of expression, I know that you will live empty and unfulfilled until you make the decision to express your potential. The expression of your potential gives voice to your dreams, life to your vision, significance to your moments and activates your true power.

You must manifest your greatness

As a revolutionary thinker and leader, my work has impacted people around the world. I am grateful that my life is a source of empowerment to so many people. However, before anyone could ever benefit from my life, I had to make a non-negotiable decision to become who I was born to be.

I wish I could tell you that this journey is easy and that you will get there overnight. However, in a world that celebrates us for doing we are often criticized for being. As a result, I wasted a lot of time trying to be who other people wanted me to be instead of being who I was born to be.

There is no greatness without becoming and there is no becoming with authenticity. It is through our bravery to be vulnerable that we ultimately manifest our greatness. We do not bless the world by being a duplicate. We bless the world when we honor our difference. When you honor your difference you honor your potential.

Ultimately, your difference is how you manifest your greatness.

When you present anything but your authentic self to the world, you are playing small and you are robbing the world of your significance. Manifesting your greatness requires you to master your gifts.

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