Ever since I entered the workforce as a teenager, I have known that I am supposed to be a leader in some capacity. I never wanted to lead in the military or in corporate America, partly because of fear of failure and partly because I didn’t feel comfortable conforming to such conservative standards. I have always called myself a boss, with grand visions of running my own non-profit that makes a large profit but I guess it’s not my time yet. At least judging from my current bank account. LOL. Anyway, I don’t believe that anything is sheer coincidence and after deciding to pursue my passions back in 2010, I have been gathering knowledge on becoming a boss for real.
I became aware of this Global Leadership Summit back in 2012, while attending Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia. I was intrigued because the speakers were revered leaders from all areas of business, entertainment and the spiritual community. One of the things I love about BCC is it’s commitment to community service and they encourage their attendees to get involved in service as a way of living out personal spiritual practices. I’m down with that so I volunteered to serve on the Registration Team. I love engaging with people and this is a fast paced duty where I am on my feet and never bored. The perk of serving in this capacity is that once registration is over, we get to attend the summit and soak up all of this wisdom that hundreds of people pay hundreds of dollars for. I figured that this opportunity is God preparing me for my future TED talk or whatever platform I am given to encourage others with my stories. Y’all know I got stories…so many stories. So, although I am a leader in preparation, the principles of leadership are applicable in both the preparation and implementation stages, making this #GLS event a valuable resource.
Anyway, I have learned so much over the past few years from both the BCC team and the GLS speakers. The 2015 faculty included Ed Catmull, the Academy award winning president of Pixar Animation Studios, who really inspired me to continue blogging. Catmull explained his views on how fitting art and science together through great storytelling can change and improve the world. He explained how storytellers are the world changers because stories are how we communcate with each other and how we can connect through the emotions of a great story. I had never thought of the importance of my “gift of gab” until he broke it down that way. The lightbulb came on for me as to why people get engrossed in a good book or a well crafted movie, such as Inside Out, because of the universal ability to relate to the story. This was also my turning point to think of my storytelling ability as a service to the world, not just amusement for my friends and family. He ending his session by stating a variation of words that I had been praying for many years, “Use your stories for Good”. As a child, I took pride in telling some fantastic lies, and I thrived on being a petty criminal. Once I got older and grew a conscience, I used to ask God to change me and to use my “powers” for good. I took this a confirmation that I am on the right track with Wani’s World and my current authoring goals.
This year, one of the speakers that I was impressed by was Melinda Gates. She spoke about how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation effectively serves women in developing nations from a perspective that is not really talked about, particularly in religious settings. She explained how one of the principles of leadership, especially when you are claiming to serve an underserved population, is the need to actually LISTEN to what the people want to be provided with. What is really going to serve their best interests instead of what Western thinking assumes is necessary. She learned, much to her surprise, what women in developing countries want is female centered birth control, such as Depo-provera shots. While sitting down with women in Africa and India, she learned that condoms are not effective because of the stigma attached to them. Women often cannot ask men to use condoms because of the assumption that if a condom has to be used then they will be accused of having AIDS or they think the man has AIDS. Also, in many countries women have no control over when or how they have sex, because they are considered powerless. Having control over the timing of their pregnancies by using birth control without their husbands knowing is an important part of empowerment for them. The option to not have babies back to back has improved the suvivability rate of both the mothers and children. Apparently there used to be wide access to Depo-provera shots that has been taken away in exchange for the widespread availability of condoms, to supposedly stem AIDS. This was so enlightening to me, how important it is to serve others through the lens of reality and not Western ideas of morality. Melinda Gates grew up Catholic so she explained that it was a struggle for her to even speak out for birth control and how she eventually realized that in this instance, it was God’s will for her to use her resources to serve in this way.
My final takeaway from her talk was that unfortunately, there is so much more that can be done by so many more celebrities and millionaire business owners. She mentioned how Warren Buffet was the one to give her the idea of coordinating a group of millionaires, both believers and non-believers, to fund charitable efforts that would impact the world greatly. It’s so crazy how many of us, especially in America, have a multitude of resources that we amass over a lifetime and we can’t take them with us when we die, yet we don’t even think of donating even a small portion of it to less fortunate communities. Umm, rappers and Ballers I’m looking right at you. I mean how many Jordan’s and Bugatti’s can you own, and really enjoy? We have got to do better folks. For real though. But, that’s another post, for now I am looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson at the #GLS2016. Hope your day was productive, Stay Prayed Up!