There were times in my life’s journey that independence was my mantra. The words from Simon and Garfunkel’s, “I AM A Rock” were an emotional reinforcement and justification of my self-contained philosophies. They penned phrases like, “I’ve built walls, a fortress steep and mighty,” “I have no need for friendship because friendship causes pain,” “I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain and an island never cries.” I embraced them as my own.

This self-protective mindset does not exempt us from hurt or protect us from disappointment or failure. It is, on the contrary, harmful in itself to my emotional health and the potential within to be truly successful. It’s impossible to be a successful leader without three key relationships.


These three levels of relationship promote internal health and are essential to impact our world for good:


1) Mentors:

Those that we receive and learn from are vital for our growth. There is never a time in our lives that we outgrow our need for coaches. Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulder of giants.”  My knowledge is limited, therefore, as I learn from those who know what I do not yet understand, it will allow me to gain the ability to see from different perspectives and discover strategies that position me for increase.

“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”  Denzel Washington


2) Partners:

Whether I am leading, following, or working side-by-side, these relationships are the ones that fill in the gap for my weaknesses and I, in turn, protect theirs. These partnerships are not based upon position but heart. It provides the synergy where we can work together aggressively to accomplish the tasks of today for the fulfillment of tomorrow’s vision. We trust them with our lives and refuse to compare or compete but celebrate and validate one another. These are the ones that sincerely dance a happy dance for every milestone we accomplish. We encourage each other when discouraged and challenge one another to be and do our best continually.

“My success could very well be, and probably is, through partnership with someone completely different than me.” Dr. Melodye Hilton


3) Those we invest into:

Investing into others is as important as being mentored. We have skills and experiences that up-and-coming leaders are hungry for. In a world of mistrust, we can be another’s cheerleader and support system. What good are our gifts if we are not generous givers?

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill


I am NOT a rock and I am NOT an island! I not only need the resources of another but I need to be a resource for others. I am not a stagnant pond but a river with a source and an outlet allowing fresh clean water to flow. I am not isolated from the world that I am commissioned to serve. My life is not defined by what I acquire or the position I’ve earned but who I become and the wholeness of my heart.

If I am blessed enough to have these three tiers of relationship in my life, I am truly successful.


From one leader to another,

Dr. Melodye Hilton


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