The older I get the more I seek to connect with people, places and things that feed my passions--purpose development, leadership development and ways to be of service to others. To this end, I decided to check something out last week that held the potential of speaking to my interest.
A friend of mind told me about an organization in Houston--the Texas Women's Empowerment Foundation (TWEF)--that has been hosting an International Financial & Leadership Summit (IFLS) for the past five years . I decided to attend the event and promised myself that if it was as good as advertised I would feature it in a column I'm developing called You Don't Know Me Yet, a series that will introduce readers to people, places and things that a majority of our populous may not be aware of yet .
I was impressed with the who, what, how and why of the Leadership Summit and the organization behind it that I felt compelled to fast-track my plans and introduce it now. The Leadership Summit founder, Deavra Daughtry, is a jewel of a human being and a compassionate leader.
Over the course of four days conference participants received insight from the likes of internationally renowned leaders, life coaches and purpose managers Myles Munroe, Paula White, Les Brown, John Maxwell and countless others, who openly and generously shared their wisdom. It was this open and frank sharing that let me know that not only was this conference the right place for me, it was righteous as well.
As an avid personal development coach and trainer the IFLS was not my first conference rodeo. I am a veteran of literally thousands of such conferences, most of which promise attendees life-altering experiences but end up falling short. This was not the case with the IFLS.
Munroe, Brown, White, Maxwell, and so many others presented their stories and strategies in a way that made the occasion not only a celebration of excellence, but a sharing of excellence. It was truly a giving moment--a powerful modeling of service to and sharing with others that only added to the integrity of the presenter's words.
I'm excited to share with you some wisdom nuggets from the conference. Bear in mind, however, that there is no way to do justice to the breadth and depth of their messages in one article. For your own well-being, and in order to get a full glimpse of the wisdom shared annually at the International Financial & Leadership Summit, make it a priority to attend next year's gathering. Hopefully, these wisdom nuggets will tide you over until the next TWEF's International Financial & Leadership Summit meets.
Daughtry, the Summit's founder, made it clear from the beginning that the event, like the Texas Women's Empowerment Foundation, focuses on more than just being a success in business.
"If you are passionate about community, family, and service we are covering just about all aspects of direct community involvement, direct community service," said Daughtry, President and CEO of Excellence Care Management. Her company is one of the nation's largest personal in-home care agencies. "Everybody has something that they have to do; still, we can all do more."
Wisdom Nuggets from Myles Munroe
Munroe, a multi-gifted international speaker, best-selling author and consultant, is the founder and Senior Pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries International. During the Summit's Master Teachers' Workshop, Munroe offered profound remarks on how crisis makes leaders. Imploring participants to view crises as powerful growth opportunities, Munroe offered encouragement bordering on ministerial for those who may or will face crisis at some point in their life.
"Crisis is the incubator of creativity, because it demands a new way of thinking," said Munroe. "Crisis test leadership; it exposes the quality of leadership. Crisis measures leadership, develops leadership, refines leadership, proves leadership, and gives leadership credibility.
Munroe went on to add that for a leader, crisis produces growth and development opportunities and magnifies true leadership.
"Crisis to a leader is an opportunity to improve and or advance an old idea," added Munroe. "Crisis ignites passion and vision. Thus, lazy people die while passion gives life to others."
A big part of a life filled with passion is the inner calling to leave a legacy--to be a person of true significance by empowering your own replacement.
Drawing from the pages of his new book, Passing it On, Munroe said it takes a mature leader to train a person to replace them, alluding to his firm belief that the most important part of leadership is the willingness to be a mentor.
"Success is only success if there is a successor. Success without a successor is failure," said Munroe. This particular point spoke to one of my passions. As a purpose management expert I have helped to initiate a movement of service--service that focuses on mentorship. Munroe's words on crisis immediately shifted my mind to the state of so many wayward youth who could be well served by having a big brother or big sister to mentor them. Munroe's presentation confirmed my own work and challenged me to be more effective at it--turning this national crisis (the need for mentors) into an opportunity for transformation.
Wisdom Nuggets from Paula White
White, a minister, author, and TV personality with an international outreach, transformed her initial life of tragedy and poverty into a model of prosperity and purpose. During the Summit White openly shared what made her incredible journey possible.
"I was asked once, 'Pastor Paula, if you could give me one thing that I can hold onto, what do I need if I'm going to make it?' Perseverance! Don't ever quit. Believe in who you are and what you are put here to do. Believe in your purpose," said White.
"It's hard to appreciate a person's glory if you don't know their story," added White.
"We are not here to fit a mold but to create a mold. You can never bring change until you become change. I encourage you, no matter what ceiling has been placed on you, no matter who has said no to you. It is time that we remove all ceilings and become who we were ordained to be," stated White.
Wisdom Nuggets from John Maxwell
Considered the world's top leadership expert, Maxwell has sold over 19 million books on the subject. Maxwell made time in his busy schedule to share his gems on the difference between a successful life and a significant life.
"Success is when you do something for yourself; significance is when you do something for someone else," said Maxwell, who expounded upon the three stages in moving from success to significance.
"Stage one begins when we look at life and look at people and say, 'I want to make a difference.' One person can make a difference. It does not matter how old you are. Moses was over 600 years old when he made a difference. After understanding that, we can go to the second stage, and that is, 'I want to make a difference with people who want to make a difference.'
This second stage is critical because it calls for discernment. In ones early years of moving from success to significance you may just grab anybody to take along with you as you try to make a difference. You will soon realize, however, that you can't make a difference with just anybody, you can only truly make a difference collaborating with people who want to make a difference. When you team up with individuals who can match your vision and your commitment, then you will begin to see that teamwork makes dreams work," shared Maxwell.
And the third stage is "Do something that makes a difference."
I believe that this third stage that Maxwell shared is critical; it is where ideas become action. Most great ideas and great potential works of service die on the vine at this stage. Without stage three--actually doing something to make a difference--all you are left with is good intentions. And I don't need to tell where the road paved with good intentions takes you.
To make stage three come to life and produce difference-making actions here is what you do: take on a cause, a purpose, a dream, something that can make a difference. Commit to a specific area of service and a specific action. You may want to become a mentor , work with homeless individuals or improve the nation's educational system. There are a number of very real and concrete ways to make a profound impact in your own backyard.
Thus, moving from success to significance calls for you to start with, 1) I want to make a difference; 2) with people who want to make a difference; 3) doing something that makes a difference.
Other Impact Players
The TWEF event was a veritable Who's Who of successful leaders. No matter where you turned, or what workshop you attended, it was impossible to make a wrong choice.
Every corner of the globe was well-represented at this international affair which took place August 23rd - 26th in Houston, Texas at the Intercontinental Hotel.
Stefan Linder, CEO of the Swiss Economic Forum, was on hand for the Million Dollar Roundtable, sharing his experiences leading an annual gathering of over 1,200 forward-thinking CEOs, innovative entrepreneurs, business leaders, politicians, scientists and media moguls.
A number of notables joined Linder on a panel that discussed strategies for growing a business, making a difference and impacting the world.
Barbara Harris Curtis, author and pastoral leadership trainer at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas was one of the Honorees at the Women Leadership Luncheon. The Luncheon Honorees also included Paula White (special guest honoree); Rev. Dr. Sharon Styles-Anderson, (Community Advocate, Washington, DC); Yolanda Black Navarro, (Association for Advancement of Mexican Americans); Shannon Buggs, (University of Houston); Dorothy Cook, (Ardyss International); Judy O'Brien Chavis, (Dell, Inc.), and several others. The Luncheon featured Keynote speaker Ms. Edie Fraser, senior consultant at Diversified Search.
Wing and Ming Wong, an extraordinary couple who have partnered to bring the world a message of hope and inspiration were one of several Summit Power Couple Honorees, that also included Samir and Dijana Becic, Armando and Alice Rivas, Pastors Remus and Mia Wright, and Godfrey and Anthonia Uduma.
These couples and more participated in the Family Empowerment & Power Couples Leadership Soiree which featured a performance by the Grammy-nominated singer/producer Kim Burrell.
Dinner with John Maxwell, the evenings keynote speaker and 2011 IFLS Global Leadership Award recipient, culminated the four-day event. Other IFLS honorees included J. Downey Bridgwater, president of Comerica Bank Houston Division; Antonio Diaz de Leon, founder and president of Ardyss International; Eugene Mitchell, corporate VP for New York Life Insurance; Xavier Williams, senior vice president GEM Markets AT&T Operations, Inc.' and Charles Ogletree of Harvard Law School.
Consistent with his Summit contemporaries, J. Downey Bridgwater is all about service. With him at the helm, Comerica Bank has fully embraced the concept of giving back to the communities they serve, by digging in and providing helpful, difference-making programs.
It is critical that a conference such as this be celebrated and brought to light so that more people can take advantage of all the Summit has to offer. During a time of global economic uncertainty it is truly encouraging to know that some of the world's most powerful and influential movers and shakers have shunned the me-first, me-only approach to doing business, and have covenanted together to literally and figuratively share the wealth--the wealth of knowledge, insights and experiences that have worked well for them.
If you have taken the time to read this article you have already participated in a powerful experience. You have done what the vast majority of individuals walking this earth rarely, if ever do. You have invested in yourself. You have actively sought out information that can make you better at managing your purpose; at more efficiently using your daily dose of 86,400 seconds to live your passion and reach your dreams.
I would ask that you take your investment a step further. Go to the nearest mirror, look deeply into your eyes, and celebrate your accomplishment with whatever positive affirmation speaks to your heart. "I am worthy and deserving of success." "I am willing and able to invest in my growth and well-being." "I am better today than I was yesterday."
The TWEF's International Financial & Leadership Summit is about investing in yourself so that you can be of service to others. If you have done so today, by wrestling with this article, you are well on your way and deserve to be celebrated. However, don't stop there.
Wake up daily ready to invest in yourself. Here's how I start my day. I borrow the words from one of my favorite Pastors, Pastor Rudy Rasmus of St. Johns Church in Houston, Texas. I wake up and ask myself each morning, "Who am I going to help today?" And at the end of the day if I can say I have helped someone, I declare the victory.
I want to move from a successful life to a significant life. What do you want to do? Hopefully, it falls in line with the sage offering of Maxwell who stated when expounding upon the significant life, "I want to make a difference, with people who want to make a difference, doing something that makes a difference."
Lavaille Lavette is an author, educator, inspirational speaker with time management expertise, a former special advisor to the U. S. Secretary of Education, (2001 -2005) and an advocate for various charitable causes. Lavaille has combined two of her passions with the creation of the "86400 Be The Village" Mentor Tour and the 86400 Seconds Movement. (86400movement.com) The movement is the instigator for a renewed life of intention and relevance. Her new book, "86400, Manage Your Purpose to Make Every Second of Each Day Count," offers guidance and examples on how to live every second of each day purposefully and with renewed intention.