When you pause for reflection, what do you see in yourself?

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Simba saw a good leader in his reflection at the signature moment in The Lion King.

Every good leader has reflection points — the moments when they recall looking into the mirror and seeing something new in themselves.  Walt Chesley is a successful fifty-something corporate executive who could retire and play with his grandchild. But recently he saw something greater in his reflection…and he’s preparing to make a bigger difference at the next level.

Someday, I hope people will use the words “philanthropist,” “social entrepreneur,” “successful executive” to describe me.  That’s why I hang around good leaders and great human beings like Walt Chesley. He’s the speaker this week at the Good Leadership Breakfast on Friday — you are invited to join us!

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Walt (red shirt) with his wife Dawn (center) and daughter Lauren, sampling the local Ghana fashion with a merchant in 2008.

At the end of 2012, he walked away from his role as SVP of HR for Universal Hospital System and promptly took a two week trip to Africa in the new year.  He walked the earth in Ghana and Liberia reflecting on the next level.  “Visiting the Motherland again was just what the doctor ordered for me, right now in my life,” he shared with me. “I’ve been very, very blessed, but I’m not ready to quit.  I can make a bigger difference if I stay in the game.” Walt Chesley definitely knows how to stay in the game.

It was the game of basketball that first got him to the next level. He fondly credits a network of inspiring, disciplined coaches who lifted him up to a college scholarship, eventually playing basketball at Boston University. He says basketball taught him how to get people working together for the common good. Since then, he’s become a prolific social entrepreneur and international philanthropist.

“The fire in my belly came through Habitat for Humanity back in Danbury, Connecticut,” he recalls.  “The home we built, was specifically given to a family of color — the first of its kind in a really tough neighborhood,” he said proudly.  That one experience launched a thirty year game of social entrepreneurship.   Soon after, he founded the Cherry Street Association which still exists today (under another name) to improve the school experience in that tough neighborhood.  Then he helped create Danbury Pathways, an endowment providing scholarships for people of color to get to college.

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Walt and his family funded the development of a clinic like this one in Ghana. The most basic care saves hundreds of lives per clinic, per year.

And the stream of generosity followed him to the Twin Cities. He’s raised more than $2M for healthcare charities. And today, he and his wife have personally funded a healthcare clinic in Ghana. “My friend Kojo Benjamin Taylor led me to a wonderful mission.  We can build clinics for $30,000 that save hundreds of lives every year,” Walt beamed. “Today, I’m looking for people who see the good in this work.  And I’m happy to say Sanford Health has now given us $30M.  It’s an honor to be investing in the Motherland…that’s why I need to stay in the game!”

Good leaders make a habit of creating inflection points by looking into their own reflection.  And they keep their hearts open to pursue the goodness in what they might see.

Please share your comments about what you have seen in your reflection.

And then join us for the Good Leadership Breakfast.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

4 Comments

  1. Justin Leader on March 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Great Read as always! 



  2. Justin Leader on March 12, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Great Read as always! 



  3. Justin Leader on March 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Great Read as always! 



  4. Justin Leader on March 12, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Great Read as always! 



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