Chris McChesney and Jim Huling - Mentors and Friends

Ten years ago, I sat down with Chris McChesney in a Marriott hotel restaurant located in Alpharetta, Georgia and felt that I had been reunited with a long-lost brother. He and I had never before met; however, we went to the same university, had the same favorite professor, graduated with the same degree, got married while we were both sophomores in college and to top it all off, we both had seven children.

Chris is one of the authors of the best-selling, highly decorated book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.” Our meeting was an interview to see if I had what it took to be a FranklinCovey 4DX practitioner. I thought I did at the time; however, I soon learned that I had much to learn. Even though I had started and run companies, my chops in assisting executive teams determine the fewest number of executable targets from complex and brilliant strategies needed to be honed. Enter Jim Huling.

I was sitting in a conference room talking with Chris when Jim walked in and greeted me. I did not know then how significant this meeting would be. I also didn’t know what I was watching until a year later when the 4DX book was published. You could say that I was at the birth of the wonderful partnership between Chris and Jim. Chris was working to write 4DX and in his words was “being bashed against writing walls.” He said, “I was so bloody from being beaten by the writing process I almost gave it all up and almost did if it weren’t for Jim.”

Jim had received a first draft of the first chapter of the 4DX manuscript and had come to the office in Atlanta to share with Chris his thoughts. He sat down across the table from Chris and shared with him his vision of how to introduce 4DX to the world in written form. I watched as Jim, a master consultant and engaging storyteller, outlined how the 4DX book would come to life. Chris, who is usually an energetic ball of lightening charging the air with enthusiasm, sat still and listened. After Jim finished, Chris got down on his knees, not lying or exaggerating here, I was there to watch the entire event unfold, Chris got down on his knees and said, “Jim you just gave me what I needed, let’s write the book together.”

From that moment a beautiful partnership formed where Chris would write in the night and Jim would pick it up in the morning. It was a lock and key relationship both helping each other through doors that had previously been closed and bolted. What was taking months was now days and weeks with the two of them working together. I was amazed at how they worked in complete harmony. One year later, from what I witnessed in the conference room that day, The 4 Disciplines of Execution was published to the world. Today 4DX is the gold standard for executing strategy. Whether you are in a public or private organization, large or small, 4DX when hired will return amazing results. As a FranklinCovey 4DX practitioner I have witnessed, first-hand, people and organizations accomplish unbelievable results.

However, the most unbelievable result, is the one that happened in me. Two life-changing meetings, one with Chris and the other with Jim, would set my life in a different direction, a better direction, than I ever could have imagined.

The meeting with Chris was after a particularly awful interaction with an executive team of people who were considering whether or not to implement 4DX. Chris and I were sitting at a restaurant table in Seattle Tacoma International Airport. He was asking me how I thought the day went and after sharing with him my general thoughts, he leaned across the table, looked deep into my soul and delivered a bolt of lightning that would reframe my entire mode of thinking and behaving. His words still ring clearly in my mind, “Jeff you use your passion to cover your ignorance. You are bright and intelligent. You never need to step on the passion gas, in fact you should ride the brake. When you ride the break and allow yourself to be ignorant and ask questions, your brilliance comes racing through. You don’t need passion to be credible, you need genuine curiosity. Listen as if you have never heard before what the other person is saying. Don’t interrupt. Don’t assume. Listen like your life depended on the answer and then ask more. If you do, the rest will take care of itself.”

From that moment forward I have done my very best to do what he said and it changed my professional and personal life in wonderful and meaningful ways. I hope to never lose what he taught me that day.

The meeting with Jim happened when I was at a crossroads of life. I felt impressed to call Jim and explain to him my situation. After patiently listening to me, he graciously invited me to spend a day with him with the stipulation that I come prepared. He then gave me two questions and asked that I come with my answers and if I didn’t have answers that we should wait to meet. The interesting thing is I didn’t see how the questions he asked related to the situation I explained; however, I still did as he asked.

The day of our meeting came. I will always remember sitting down with him, I on a comfortable chair, he on the adjacent sofa. We were in his home and I felt at home. He listened intently as I explained the answers to the questions he asked. Then after talking for quite some time I sat still and listened as Jim unfolded to me a vision of what could be. He took a day of his time to show me something about myself that I had never seen. His wise counsel impacted me in a way that has forever changed my life. I will always appreciate his willingness to answer my numerous questions completely and honestly.

These two men are mentors and friends. I take time to pay tribute to them because they were the spark that started the Streaking story. Jami and I had the kindling and fuel in place to write the Streaking book and these two were the flint and steel to start it on fire. Thank you!

Keep Streakin’,


PS - Jim recently had a discussion with Chris on Jim's podcast "Find Your Fire". The discussion is excellent and well worth the time you will invest listening.

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