Tom Hammel: The journey to self leadership

For the finale of Season 3, the Cultivation Podcast flips the script by having its final interview be with Tom himself.


David Specht, Tom’s friend of nearly two decades who he met as a youth pastor in a small Louisiana town, talks with Tom about overcoming a rough upbringing, the process of transforming Tom’s life, and how he learned to lead others along the path of self leadership.




3 Must-Hear Takeaways from this episode

Changing who you are and not being a victim of your past means self discipline.
Be in competition with yourself and find coaches for the areas of your life where you want to be No. 1.
Books are a fantastic resource that can help start you on your own path of self leadership.


Show Notes:

David: People only see you where you are now and have no idea how far you came. Tell the listener who you are.


Tom: I grew up in the central valley of northern California in the town of Stockton. For the most part, it had the highest murder rate per capita in all of California. I grew up independent and had to make ends meet. I had to learn how to talk to people, manipulate and survive.

I started doing drugs in elementary school, got really into partying all through junior high school, dealing and selling drugs. Around the age of 14, I had a direct encounter with Jesus and it changed the direction of my life. It didn’t change my past, I brought all that knowledge of who I was. While my life took a transformation, my knowledge and experience stayed with me and when I started to minister to other people, I brought that knowledge of pain, disappointment and fear to the table and made it really relatable to people.


David: There may be someone listening who had a difficult past. Can you talk about what it took to lead that life that you saw God had for you?


Tom: It takes some self discipline, and it’s hard. It’s a mindset shift of saying “I’m not going to be ruled or controlled by my past and the people around me.” It meant a mindset shift of seeing the world differently and taking the courageous step of pursuing a different identity. It takes reading books, changing the people you are around, changing what you put into my mind.


David: Who inspired you and continues to inspire you?


Tom: I’ve been hungry to develop as a person so there’s a long list. It’s like climbing a mountain. My spiritual transformation was a 1-moment awakening, this journey of transforming has been progressive where new possibilities arise and new influences come into my life. There’s so many voices in my life, I’ve been diligent to always have a mentor.

My epiphany moment came one Sunday when I put on the Golf Channel. As Tiger Woods was hitting the ball, the commentators mentioned his swing coach and I realized the No. 1 golfer in the world wasn’t in competition with everyone else, he was in competition with himself and his development. I realized I’m not the top in any area of my life and needed coaches.


David: You’re 20 years into this journey and you feel like you need to share what you’re doing. Walk us through the vision and implementation of your vision.


Tom: I was leading a large convention and I’m challenging people to change their lives and as I was walking the stage, I noticed a guy I didn’t recognize anymore — it was me. I had allowed so many things in my life to get out of whack, I was so busy in the grind I wasn’t taking care of myself. I felt like a hypocrite because I was failing to lead my own self. I started with my health, I lost 80 lbs., and in the process of leading myself, I realized there’s not a lot of self-leadership. I realized we’ve got to do some things to awaken the possibility and set others on a journey to lead themselves.


David: I have seen so many people using the pandemic as an excuse to not do things, so self leadership is needed now more than ever. So, let’s talk about resources that are available in the form of books and their value.


Tom: I love books. I try to mix it up a lot as far as what and who I’m reading. My current all-time favorite book is “The Atomic Habit” by James Clear. It’s simple to understand and profound that these daily habits in my life determine my destiny.


We’re about to embark on Season 4 and that is tied to another project you’re going to launch. Can you give us a hint about Season 4?


Tom: I wrote a book, “The Life You’re Meant to Lead” and it will come out in the fourth quarter of 2020. The book is about unpacking areas where we take the steps to lead ourselves and take responsibility and being intentional. Season 4 is about unpacking those things I didn’t have enough room to unpack in the book. The podcast is going to be about the application of that book, seeing it come alive.


Favorite book:

The Atomic Habit by James Clear