When I reflect on my short 46 years on this planet, I can think of a handful of days that I would consider the greatest:
• Adopting my baby sister from Seoul, Korea in 1975
• My first kiss back in 1981 (if you call that sloppy 7th grade episode an actual kiss )
• Becoming an Eagle Boy Scout in 1985
• Kicking the game winning field goal, back in 1986, to keep my high school football team undefeated
• Giving my college graduation commencement address in 1992 (and actually graduating)
• Getting married to the love of my life in 2004 and gaining a step-son (whom I never considered a “step” son)
• My daughter Caroline being born in 2005 and son Tate (Thomas III) in 2008
• Publishing my first book in 2010.

And most recently – dinner on October 6, 2015. So why after these monumental dates and experiences does a simple dinner make my top ten list? The answer is simple – because of who was around the dinner table.
Last week my second book, The Heart-Led Leader, was released nationwide. We had a wonderful book launch reception in Denver with over 200 family and friends. It was deeply humbling to see the long line of friends buying their first copy. I signed books for three hours but it felt like three minutes. Such a beautiful evening. One that I will never forget.

But what made October 6th my top ten was the intimate dinner party my friends Scott & Natalie Lynn hosted in my honor. Twenty-eight guests from all over the country – including my mother and father (and their spouses).

During the dinner Scott asked all our guests to stand, introduce themselves and share how they knew me. And for the next thirty minutes I held back tears of joy listening to the people I love, share why they love me. My best friend since little league baseball. My little and big sisters. My mentors. My agent. My ghost writer. My brother and sister in-laws. My best friends. And Jill and Anthony. It was a magical evening.

After the dinner was over Scott asked me to say a few closing words. As a “professional” speaker – I found myself speechless – then these words poured out of my heart.

“What I’m most proud of is not the accomplishment of writing another book, but the relationships around this table. Around this table are my parents and sisters, who through life circumstances, have not all been around the same dinner table since my wedding eleven years ago. Around this table are my closest friends – Christian, Jew and Muslim. Around this table is my ghost writer and agent (then explaining most authors wind up hating their ghost writer and literary agent (and vice versa) – yet I love my writing team more today than when we started The Heart-Led Leader three years ago). Around this table are Walt Rakowich and Frank DeAngelis, two of the greatest Heart-Led Leaders that I’ve had the privilege to write about in my new book. Frank – you turned around a high school once synonymous with “school shooting” and now known as a place of love. Walt – you led one of the greatest Wall Street corporate turnarounds in history by turning a failing S&P 500 company into one of America’s most successful companies – all with humility, transparency and love. Around this table are friends, family and mentors that have loved me unconditionally over the years and have helped shape me into the husband, father and person I am today.”
And then I realized as I looked at those 28 faces – it is the people around our dinner tables that are more important than who’s sitting around our board room tables. It is our family and friends who bless us with the gift of unconditional love that really matters. If I’ve learned only one thing in my lifetime – it is this – the only way to receive more love in our lives and in our relationships is to give more love in our lives and in our relationships.

This past week, The Heart-Led Leader, hit #1 Wall Street Journal, #1 Amazon business and top ten New York Times national bestseller lists. It was the #1 best selling business book in America. I’m incredibly humbled and proud of this accomplishment – especially for someone who graduated with a 4.0 GPA –IF you add my high school GPA AND my college GPA together! But what I am MORE proud of are the people sitting around my dinner table.

Accomplishments are what they are – things that we accomplish. Things – as great as they may seem – are only things. Friends, family, mentors and loved ones are much deeper, richer and more meaningful than our resumes, awards and accomplishments. People are our greatest gift. And the people we surround ourselves with are often a reflection of who we become. So instead of asking “what’s for dinner”, perhaps we should be asking ourselves “who is sitting around our dinner table”?

Tommy Spaulding
October, 2015