Bart Nollenberger Speaking at The Healing Conference in Colorado Springs

Ladies and gentlemen, Bart Nollenberger! Give it up, baby! We got a hug here. Appreciate you. What’s up, everybody?

Man, you know what, John, that was amazing, buddy. That was really incredible. Thank you. And I’m sorry I didn’t get to sit in on everybody’s [sessions] because I had other obligations, but I know we’re all here for the same reason, right? We’re all here to give other people hope. And you know, I came up with this thing – I always say I coined a phrase, and then about a month later, I saw it somewhere else – but I coined a phrase of what hope really is: Helping Other People Expand. And I believe that’s you. I really do.

Bob Buford wrote a book. Does anybody know Bob Buford? The book was called “Halftime,” right? Still is. And when Buford wrote the book, when he first started as a young man, he was super successful in material terms – had lots of nice houses, boats, planes, and he was just… he had a lot of money, and he owned radio stations in Texas. Then something happened, you know, that seismic shift in his life that everyone in this room today, I’ve heard, has happened to them. And his seismic shift was he lost a son. At that moment, an extrovert who was great at moving the room decided he needed to know more about himself, and he went inside himself for a bit of time. And what he decided was it was great to be successful. You know how it is – we go on Instagram, we go on Facebook, compare ourselves to others, and see the world’s success. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those comparison issues. Don’t lie now. You can’t do that in a healing conference. You just can’t. We’ve had that. And he said, “I want to give back. I want to be a person of significance.” And again, I honor you because that’s who you are.

John Maxwell is one of my mentors, and like Trent, we’re members – and I get emotional about it, Trent – we’re members of the Maxwell Leadership Team. And as members of the Maxwell Leadership Team, John says to us, “We’re people of value, adding value to people.” But I think there’s a little different phrase. I’m going to coin something else, Trent. Don’t tell John. “We’re people of value, adding value and significance to people of value.” That’s what gives us hope for what we do.

Years ago – thank you, man. I paid him. You were a little late, though. It was supposed to be sooner – years ago, I read a book called “The Celestine Prophecy.” I mean, we’re talking years ago. And one thing about that book that it said was the more that you give, the more energy you have. Somebody talked about energy earlier. Isn’t that so true? When you and I get out of ‘me’ and start talking about ‘we,’ that’s when the shift happens. Would you agree? Yeah, yeah.

So, who I am today is not who I was before. Today, I’m a coach. Now, everybody’s a coach. It’s the most misused phrase on the planet. Let’s just get that straight because a coach is not Nick Saban. A coach is not Steve Kerr – for those of you who don’t know who that is, those are obviously sports coaches. A coach is actually a person who is great at asking questions with no agenda. That’s right. They can ask a question and help the person come up with their own solution. And today, in this world, 2023, we must be leaders who teach leaders how to be coaches because if we don’t, we’re not going to have leaders. The reason that we have struggled is we have poor leadership. The quality of leadership drives any company, church, organization, or family. That’s the way it is.

So, we’re going to talk about a little bit about that, but we’re going to talk about how you and I transform into great leaders and coaches. A wise person once said, “A man or woman convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.” So, what that means is, as a leader – is anybody a leader in the room? You all are. As a leader, if I say, “Joanne” – I don’t know your name, Joanne – “this is the way it’s going to be done,” and Joanne says, “Okay,” that doesn’t mean she owned it. Have you ever had people within your organization who say they own it but keep doing the same thing repeatedly? It’s not them. It’s time to look in the mirror.

One thing I get to do is lead leaders in developing themselves. And one of the things that we do before we even start in our boot camps – we have intensive boot camps – is that we have them go through what’s called the Five Levels of Leadership. Now, the Five Levels of Leadership: Number one is position. “I’m the boss. That’s just the way it is.” Does anybody know anybody like that? And then there’s the permission leader. “Hey, dude, what’s up? Get that done for me, will you? Come on, I’ll buy you a beer later.” Then there’s the production leader. “I’m going to make you money. I’m going to get you places, kid.” But none of those are the elite. The next one is a people development leader. People development leaders develop people who develop people who develop people. That’s how families grow.

It’s so interesting. I was telling – maybe, I don’t know who – but I was telling somebody that in my boot camps, most of the men – because most of them are men – come up to me, that is like high leaders, and they’ll say to me, “Bart, this really worked in the office, but man, I’m better at home now. Man, I’m so much better at communicating with my kids now. When I get mad at them, I just say, ‘What were you thinking?’ Now, ‘What were you thinking?’ – it’s a little different tone. ‘What were you thinking there? Tell me a little bit about that.’ It’s hard for us, don’t you – you know, there again, be real. It’s hard to ask questions, especially when emotions are involved.”

So, anyhow, that’s what I get to do, and I’m honored to be able to do it. That’s the victory in my life. Another victory in my life today is – you heard about the book. That’s a miracle. I mean, me? Get out of here. Actually, what happened [is], in 2015, I met a guy at the K-Love Fan Awards, and he said, “That’s a book.” It’s kind of like if you go to a bar and some girl says, “You’re handsome.” You feel handsomer. That’s how we feel, ladies; I’m just telling you. We’re feeling like this, walking out: “I’m pretty handsome.” It might not be true, but they told you that, so you believe it. I believed it. Five years later – nobody said I was a fast mover – the book came out in 2023, in June.

Also, you heard the part – I was going to do my talk differently. I’ve got 38 years of sobriety. I want to tell you a little bit about the brokenness of that. Thank you, sister. Here’s what happened: I have a master’s [in] stupidity. I have a doctorate [in] dumb, just saying. But today, I have a Ph.D. – Papa Has a Desire for me. And if I listen to him, everything changes.

I was 28 years old, and I have 38 years of sobriety. Don’t you dare do the math. I was – I know, I know, I know, I get it. So, I’m 28 years old. I’m at work, weigh 150 pounds, late at night, finance manager at a car dealership. Walk into the bathroom to do a line of cocaine. My boss came in right behind me. I knew I was busted, but I went like that, walked through, out of the room. Next morning, he says – and I walked into his office – and he said, “Bart, we’re going to have to let you go.” And guess what I did? [I] loosened my tie and went, “See?”

Six months earlier, I’d gone to a treatment center that a buddy of mine had gone through, and I checked in. Or, I didn’t check in, but I inquired. And I said, “Hey, I’m… I’m… I’m kind of thinking, I know somebody.” And she said, “Well, you got to be there 30 days.” “Okay, cool. I’ll come after work.” “No, no, it doesn’t work that way. You have to go 24/7.” I said, “Maybe you don’t know who I am. I’m kind of a big deal. I’m a finance manager of a car dealership.” As I look at the Navy SEAL, right? I was nobody, but I thought I was somebody. I was insecure, neurotic, emotional, a sex addict, a drug addict – every drug except heroin. Six months later, I happened to get busted at work. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I got up in the morning after I got fired, crying to a God I didn’t know. I was raised Unitarian — don’t ask me, I don’t know, they have not a clue. I went but wasn’t there; I probably wasn’t mindful. And the problem with that was I didn’t get anything out of it. But this morning, I’m crying like a newborn. And I got an intuition. Do you know what I mean by that? A still, small voice. But, you know what? It wasn’t still, and it wasn’t small. It was like the gong show. I called that treatment center; they had one bed. I checked in.

Two weeks later, a counselor came up to me after I’d gone through hours and hours of therapy, and he said, “Bart, you’re not going to make it; you’re not going to stay sober.” That guy needed to go through my leadership class because I would have never handled it like that. And I wanted to punch him in the nose. Does anybody ever have anybody like that in your life? Isn’t it funny how those people have such an impact? Maybe we should do a class on that, Trent; who knows?

But what happened was, I was so mad at him. The next morning, I woke up and had a shirt on with a pocket. I’m in front of the mirror — you know, it takes a while to get this hair looking good. So, I was looking in the mirror, and all of a sudden, I felt something in my pocket. I reached in and pulled out a stash of cocaine that I’d hid there months earlier. Remember, I had a $5,000-a-month cocaine habit, weighed 150 pounds when I checked in, and used it whenever I could. All of a sudden, nobody knew I could use. I opened it, looked at it, and flushed it down the toilet. And you know what? He wasn’t in there, but I was a badass.

Two weeks later, I graduated. And you know the story, but I got to tell you why. Why got me in that room? My why. Everybody we need a why. You gotta have a why. If you don’t know what your why is, you’ve got to find it out. My why was born June 17th, 1984. Tiffany was born. When I saw her, I had a picture of her right here, and I’m right there, this skinny thing with a drawn-in face. As soon as I gave her back to her mama, I went and used a gram of cocaine. Six months later, I saw my sober buddy. A year later, I went into rehab. She was my why. I didn’t even realize it until about three weeks ago.

But here’s what happened: I got sober. You’ve all heard the story, but that’s not the story. But I will tell you, the reason I got sober is I replaced every friend I had. The night before, I’d gone out with a friend of mine and smoked crack cocaine all night. That was the last time I saw him. I had a bar that I used to go to all the time, never went to it again. I always took a right from now on instead of a left. I changed everything. If you want to change a habit, stop it, replace it, and do exactly the opposite. Get new friends, get new jobs, whatever. Have a new vision, a new career. I did that.

But I also replaced addictions. I was a sex addict. I saw porn when I was 14, about the same time I took my first drink. It’s hard to say this in front of ladies; I’m just going to tell you. And I continued on this behavior. I was married, I was a lousy husband, narcissistic, just a jackass. And I was sober, but I wasn’t free from that. It consumed me. I hated it, hated myself. And then, one day, I was driving down the street, went by a church — Santa Cruz Bible — and decided to pull in. Why? Still small voice. Gong. I pulled in, got out, and thought, “Man, this is a nice church.” They had Mercedes in the driveway. I walked in and sat in the back of the room while they played rock and roll. It was good stuff, man.

And then he came out his name’s Chip Ingram, and he talked about Romans 12. What he said to me — and I was the only one in the room, by the way — “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” My mind started to get renewed. I started feeding it with what this

person, this God in person called Jesus, was telling me. I got baptized, found a Celebrate Recovery, and got a sponsor in my recovery. I didn’t get it right away, but I kept doing it over and over. I’m a slow study.

My mama died three years ago at 97. She used to say, “Bart, you’re gonna be a late bloomer.” Well, I love my mom so much. She’s my hero. That’s like saying you’re not worth a damn yet, but my mother would never say that. She loved me, and she was right. Now is my time. Now is your time. Look at your neighbor. Now is our time. Now is your time. Say it. “Now is your time.” So, we’ve heard it. While it was been said so well, now, there is no other way.

Every one of us wants victory. Every one of us wants to get there. And once in a while, we’re here. And here isn’t okay. Do you get that? My here was, I was ugly. My here was, I was a lousy athlete. My here was, girls didn’t like me. My here was, my brother was better looking. My here was, I was not worth anything. I wanted to be like you, dude. I didn’t want to be like me. The “there” wasn’t what I wanted. That there was what I wanted. The here wasn’t.

Get this. What’s the difference between here — here I am — and there? The T. You can’t get here to there without time. You can’t get here to there without picking up your mat and walking. You can’t get here to there without transformation. And you know what? I think transformation is not just changing but keeping the change. Right? Today, I’m free from that garbage of sexual integrity issues. Hate it. Today, I work with men that are on the other side of that. Today, I have a podcast where we interview broken people who have gotten from the place of the pit to the place of peace. Today, we’re winning.

Now, what’s important now when there is no other way? As we wrap up here, I have no idea where I am. My favorite scripture: The quality of your and I’s life is determined by the quality of our questions. I feel sorry for the people in the front row. Has anybody ever seen Gallagher? Remember? Okay, sorry, buddy, I’ll try to step back. I’m getting excited. Four things transformed me. I had to ask better questions. The one question I ask myself all the time still today is, “Who are you?” Because I know I can’t grow if I don’t know me. I’m a DISC Behavior Specialist Consultant. I love that. We’ve all done them, but not because of the fact that we do it for employees. I do it for me. I do it with my leaders so they know themselves and become experts. And what I know is this: If you and I are transparent, if we’re real, and we’re real in this room, then we’ve got this healthy transparency. When you and I get in trouble, it’s when we have blind spots. Are you with me? But we don’t know our blind spots. So why not ask the Maker, “What’s my blind spots?” I do it every morning.

Also, mask. You and I, of course, walk into these rooms with masks on. By tomorrow night, hopefully, they’ll be gone. But when you and I get rid of them, now we’re healthier, we’re more authentic. We cannot gain our full potential until we increase our authenticity, decrease our blind spots and decrease, raise our masks. Would you agree with that? Yeah. You know, it’s scriptural, right? See, I wasn’t raised Christian. I don’t have any reason to believe in Jesus.

Some of you love Jesus more than others; it’s all good. But I would tell you this: What I know is I can’t get there without Him. That’s right. What I know is some nights, I just have to sleep with the book next to me. I don’t know what it does, but I know it’s a nice companion when my wife’s not there. What I know is I’m who I am today because of Him. Him. What I know is I’ve been married three times, man. I’m not proud of this, but I have a love story with the woman of my dreams today. We’ve been married eight years, ten kids, 12 grandkids. That’s got to be Jesus. And what I know is two of my sons, my twins, get this: They asked me to do their weddings. Me, a wretch like me. It’s got to be Jesus.

Here’s where we’re going to land. I want you to hear this: Psalm 139:23-24, ‘Search me, God, and know my heart.’ That’s the scripture. When you ask God to teach us our hearts, reveal to me who I am. Now, reveal to me the man that I am. Show me my character. Test me, God, and know my anxious thoughts. Reveal anything in me that offends you and leads me in the way everlasting. Let’s break that down, and then we’re going to go home.

God, where am I? God, who am I? God, is there anything I’m doing that’s sabotaging or getting in the way? Anything I’m doing to offend you? God, I have a question: Where do you want me?

You know what happened when I was a kid and I was here and wanted to be there? It was dreams. I had dreams, but I never walked it. Guess who takes me in their hand today and walks me hand in hand with His dream for me to be the best I can be for Him? That’s right, everything, everything, everything.

And you and I get this when we bring Him into it. Every door seems to open like there’s a tornado in the back; it flies open. If we’re not getting what we want, it’s because we might not be obedient. When you and I are obedient, when we do one day at a time, when we remember yesterday’s history, tomorrow is a mystery, today’s a gift – that’s why they call it the present. When we’re in the now, everything can change.

So, my hope, my dream, my kin, is that He needs you to be the hands and feet and the ambassadors to change the world. He needs you to be a people development leader. He needs you to walk hand in hand with Him and change the world and be 1 Corinthians 13 love masters.

As you go out into the world, if you think about it, the best motivational book in the world is the Bible. But I will also tell you, as I wrap, one of the best personal development books in the world – not this one, but the 12 Steps of Recovery. Yes, and this book was written with 12 chapters for the 12 steps of recovery. It’s my story, and it’s a leadership story.

I’m going to give three of them away right now to the first three people who run up here, and they’re available on You can blame my publisher for not putting it on Amazon yet. Yes, keep the… Give her a hand; come on. You know what’s so funny? Is that she shocked me, she was running up here.

There’s a groupie, But there’s a few of them back there. It’s $17.95 on keepthechangebook. You can get it now. Can I say it? Yes, can I – 10 bucks. So, any that are here, ten bucks. Venmo me, whatever, and they’re yours.

If the podcast has kept the change, look me up. Here’s what I’m going to do for you. I don’t have a QR code. I suck, darn it. I feel so inferior. It’s so easy, I know, huh? Well, I don’t know. Here’s the deal. Bart Nollenberger, let me give you my email: [email protected]. Bartn7gmail.

If you want anybody in the room, I’m going to do it with anybody because not everybody will do it. I will give you a half-hour coaching session on the five levels of leadership. And what I’m also going to do is, I’ll send you a free survey on the five levels. So, you’ll get the survey, and you’ll get a coaching session. Okay, hopefully, all of you don’t take me up on it, but I’m gonna take that risk. So, it’s a half-hour, and I’ll go over the five levels. I’ll send it to you; you can fill it out and return it to me, and I’ll walk you through it. Is that cool?

Okay, hey, you guys, thank you. Thank you; I’m sure I went over. I always do, but my email is [email protected] – The book is at Let’s all stand up a minute, please, and get out of here.

I’m honored. I really am. I am a better person because I got to hang out with you here. I am a better person because I got to hear you. You know, and

I know, as speakers, all of you are speakers; it’s about you, it’s not about the speaker in the room. And I just so appreciate sitting in the chair. I got so much out of all of this from you.

So, God bless you. Thank you for letting me take a few minutes. I appreciate you guys. Ladies and… yes, come on, one more left. Yes, here we go. There you go. All right, well, thank you, man. Awesome job.

Join us next time at The Healing Conference!