It was author Rita Mae Brown who said, “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” I think that can be said of certain friends too. Without their encouragement and accountability, we struggle to reach for the stars. Consider this story of a reluctant hero who got her business done.

Bonnie is a Registered Nurse in a pediatric practice. She is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. If that sounds impressive, it’s because it is. It takes a lot of study to earn your “IBCLC” credentials. Bonnie helps sleep-deprived moms stop crying by helping their babies feed. Someone called her “The Baby Whisperer” and that’s what she is. She’s good at what she does.

But Bonnie needed a push to pursue her certification.

It had been a while since she’d been a student, so she felt intimidated. And Bonnie is not impulsive. She looks before she leaps. In this case, she looked and looked and looked. Then she looked some more. She needed a push and it came from her sons.

Daniel might say, “Mom, you can do this.” Nate would add, “Mom, you should definitely do this.” Johnny might ask, “Hey, Mom…have you signed up yet?” And they’d all chime in, saying, “Mom, what are you afraid of? You got this!”

Basically, they said things I had said before to little effect. The difference was, they were her boys and can push her in ways I can’t. And she’s glad they did.

We All Need a Push Sometimes

Who gives you a push when you need it?
Who challenges you to stretch and grow?
Who believes in you and calls you to be bold, to bet on yourself, to take a big leap?
Who expects you to be somebody?

Whoever comes to mind is playing the role of “the Builder.”

Can You Spot the Builders in Your Life?

In his book, Vital Friends, author Tom Rath says that Builders are:

• Great motivators, always pushing you toward the finish line
• People who invest in your development and want you to succeed
• Generous with their time, willing to go out on a limb for you
• Friends who focus on your strengths and what you do well

In my life, Builders don’t let me feel sorry for myself. They tell me to get back on my pony and ride. They help me level-up my game.

If you want to be a slug or if you want to coast in your comfort zone, stay away from the Builder. They won’t let you get away with it.

Build You Up or Hold You Back?

Some people drag us down. Bad company corrupts good goal-setting. Don’t expect people with no genuine ambitions to encourage you in yours.

Of course, people don’t have to be horrible to hold you back. Good people do it too. They care but can’t help imposing their fears and limiting beliefs on you.

In 1998, I dreamt about starting a church. I needed help discerning if this was a God-thing or just one more of my crazy ideas. I asked a wise and godly man his opinion. He cautioned me against it. “You’ve got a wife and little ones to think about,” he said.

Turns out he’d had a bad experience church planting when he was young. He didn’t want that for me. He meant no harm. But if I had listened to him, there would be no Celebration Community Church today.

Taking My Big Leap

In contrast, there’s Morgan McKenna, a leadership consultant, coach, artist, and healer.

Morgan is also a Builder.

She got to know me, listened to my heart, and encouraged me to make space to listen to God. She saw my call to coaching and lifelong yearning to become a writer. She saw things changing in my church, saw a brighter future for me, and saw regret if I held onto the status quo too long.

“Steve,” she said. “I’m going with my brother to his 50th high school reunion this Friday. Do you know what I’m going to see there? A lot of people struggling with health issues who feel like their best days are behind them. You know what I’m not going to see? A lot of people launching a coaching business and authoring books.”

I sat riveted as she gave me a much-needed push: “You’re 58 and at the height of your game. Your health is good and you’ve got vision and energy. You know what you want may not see that you have a limited time to do it. If not now, when?”

I took it in, thought it over, and said, “Now.”


* Who are the Builders in your life. Make a quick list.
* Where do you need a push? What is it time for you to pursue or do?
* Invite your builders to push you towards your goals and dreams. Invite them directly.
* Thank them for caring enough to kick you in the butt.
* Be the Builder when a friend, family member, or team member wants you to (and sometimes when they don’t).

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