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The Pursuit of ‘PURPOSE’

The-Pursuit-of-Purpose

It is end of December again and with year-end comes the reality of setting goals and planning for the upcoming year and beyond.   I have come to accept that writing goals is fundamental to me but converting dreams to actions and ultimately results could be a challenging task.

I have a dream, and the dream is to live a ‘purpose driven life’ but that comes with fully understanding the true definition of ‘purpose’ and embracing mine.  The other day, I read a profound quote which stated: “if you lack wisdom, go on your knees and if you lack knowledge, go to school” thus I picked up a book to increase my knowledge about the pursuit of purpose.

"You and I will never be fully successful in being what we were never born to be.  Your mother or father probably told you that you could be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it.  I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but in your opinion, do you think Jack can be a dog if he puts his mind to it?”

Too many of us have given up our perfect, intended selves to become a cheap imitation of others – and yet without any fulfillment.  Who is the real you that has never existed in the world that you have created?  When you know who you are, you won’t try to be what you were not meant to be.  You might be asking, ‘so how do I decide who I am meant to be, given the plethora of choices that are available?’.  The answer is simple: know your purpose".  Excerpt "from Dreaming to Becoming" by Dr. Phinehas Kinuthia.

I am learning that the journey to fulfilling my purpose is a process.  It begins with a commitment to embrace transformation of the inward being and managing my perception-gauge.  My journey to purpose and developing my leadership skills has been transformational because I am learning great lessons and the most valuable of them all is that “great leaders invest in personal, professional, emotional and Spiritual growth because they understand that ‘growth and development is the highest calling of purpose’.   

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An Encounter with ‘Purpose’

An Encounter with ‘Purpose’

During a coaching session with a client recently, she looked around in my office and asked; “what all are you involved in? In other words, what is everything you do for a living”.  My natural tendency whenever this question is asked leans towards listing everything I do and because the list is long, she said; “you do a lot”.   She took it a step further by asking a follow up question; “how in the world do you find time to do all of that”?. 

Even though “doing a lot” could be a measuring gauge for success in our society, I was challenged to re-think and re-consider how I brand myself.  I recognized quickly that branding is all about ‘packaging’ which also requires wisdom.  I was reminded of a statement I once heard which basically said “If you lack knowledge, go to school but if you lack wisdom, go on your knees”.  Needless to say, I went on my knees to pray for understanding and wisdom on how to articulate what I do without sounding overwhelming in the future.   “Sure enough, help came from above.  After persistent prayers, actively listening and patiently waiting, the revelation came.  I was finally able to sum up what I do in a meaningful way. 

Yesterday, I was meeting with the same client and after the session, she said; “Even though I know I need to do something with my life, there’s no way I can even dare to go your path.  I don’t even have the capacity to do everything you do; you are such a lady”.  This was my moment to define my ‘purpose’ and awaken her soul so I seized the opportunity.   “I do only one thing”, I stated.  With a bizarre look on her face she said, “you are kidding, right”?.   I leaned in gently and with a smile on my face I said; “This is the one thing I do.  ‘I am a servant leader who influences people to identify/nurture their strengths and overcome their fears and in doing so, they come to their own truth and are empowered to live a life of purpose and impact”. 

Her reaction was a real “Kodak” moment.  Oh, how I wished I could capture it on camera!  She gave me the most confident look she has ever worn since I met her and with a sigh of relief she said; “how do you do what you just profoundly stated”?“This goal is accomplished through coaching, speaking, teaching, leadership training, consulting, mentoring, writing and ‘walking the talk’”, I replied.  What came next was totally unexpected for me.  With tears rolling down her cheeks she said; “I completely agree with you.  Now I understand why I was so drawn to you and why every time I leave our session, I tell myself I have to return for more”.  I knew that one day, I will come to ‘my own truth’ and find my way out of my dark world”.    

My personal ‘take-aways’ from this experience cannot be numbered however; I would rather give you the opportunity to find the morale for you.  I was deeply touched and reminded of an insightful statement I once heard; “The return on your investment should not only be measured by the wealth you build but by the lives you change in your journey”.

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Becoming A Person of Influence!

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Even though there are many ways to finish the sentence ‘Leadership is….’, today, I want to focus on one profound definition – “Leadership is Influence”, nothing more, nothing less!  I am learning that “everyone is (created with natural abilities to be) an influencer of other people” and if we want to accomplish our goals in life, be better leaders and make an impact in our world, we “can do so faster, be more effective, and the contribution we make can be longer lasting if we learn how to ‘be a person of influence’”.   

The fourth quarter presents a new challenge to me.  I am already looking into the future and making commitments to invest in self-development to take my ‘influence’ and ultimately my ‘leadership’ to higher heights.  But wait! did I just say “invest”?  Yes, I sure did; because I received revelation knowledge that “The road to successful leadership (becoming a person of influence) has several toll booths.  People who keep depositing, sacrificing and paying at this toll road get the reward of great leadership skills”.

In January 2017, we will begin our series of Mastermind sessions and it is not a co-incident that we will be digesting the greatest book of all time “Becoming A Person of Influence – how to POSITIVELY IMPACT the LIVES of OTHERSWhat a great way to begin the New Year! 

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The Future is Here

The-Future-is-Here

I am deeply engaged in reading (my friend, your friend, and our friend) John Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” book and it is amazing how much I am learning even though I am reading it for the second time. This time around, I am reading it not just for the acquisition of knowledge but with purpose. With my heart turning to Youth leadership development, I find myself spending a lot of time on Law number 3 – ‘The Law of Process’. I am learning in this chapter that effective leadership skills can be learned over time and that leadership as a process “encourages development, matures people, changes people, their behaviors and cultural beliefs about leadership”. So in a nutshell, John is saying: “To lead tomorrow, learn today”.

I am deeply moved by the story John shared about a nineteen-year old who attended one of his leadership seminars several years ago. John noticed Brian because he saw eagerness to learn in him. He was taking notes and interacting well with others so when John got to teaching the law of process, he gave Brian the most empowering and wisdom-filled advice that any young and aspiring leader should hear and embrace. Brian, he said: “I’ve been watching you here and I’m very impressed with how hungry you are to learn and glean and grow. I want to tell you a secret that will change your life. I believe that in about 20 years, you can be a great leader. I want to encourage you to make yourself a lifelong learner of leadership.…..It’s not going to be easy but in five years, you’ll see progress as your influence becomes greater. In ten years, you’ll develop a competence that makes your leadership highly effective. And in twenty years, when you are only thirty-nine years old, if you’ve continued to learn and grow, others will likely start asking you to teach them leadership…..You can be a great leader, but it won’t happen in a day. Start paying the price now.”

 

Being born and raised in Africa – The Gambia, I didn’t have the opportunity that Brian had to attend leadership seminars at the age of nineteen to nurture my leadership skills. Even though I got on the journey later on in life, I am still looking back at many others who were born in my era or before me and even after me who still lack the opportunities to learn and develop their leadership skills. I am challenged today and in the future, to contribute to the development of youth leadership because I want them to experience the prophecy that John spoke over the life of Brian. Remember; “young people (can) make a difference today, they’re not just tomorrow’s leaders”.

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Driven to Action

Driven-to-Action

It is such a divine coincidence that three weeks following the major certification seminar I attended in Orlando, Florida and being so inspired about including Youth Leadership Training into our service menu, I was invited by Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) President to a Youth Summit in Washington D.C.  It happens that while in Orlando, I heard John Maxwell and most of the speakers at the seminar repeatedly stating the viewpoint that “everything rises and falls on leadership”.  There could not have been a better time for this summit because in this very season, my heart was focused on Youth Leadership Development and the agenda for the three-day event zeroed in on “Promoting Youth-inclusive Policies for Growth/Youth Livelihoods and Learning Program”.    

During presentations on the first day, I had the opportunity to be surrounded and educated by influential leaders from the continent of Africa and the United States.  These instrumental leaders have captured the revelation that “leadership is a process” and a country’s quality of leaders is dependent on how early and how much those in power begin or are willing to invest to develop the population targeted to navigate the country in the future. 

The Honorable Ministers from Senegal, Mali and The Gambia shared the different programs that are currently available to promote Youth education and create employment opportunities in their respective countries.  Among the domestic presenters were representatives from GYIN, The Mayor’s Office of African Affairs, Center for Excellence in Public Leadership – GWU, Center for Learning and Development District of Columbia and District of Columbia Government.  It was mind blowing to get introduced to all the effective programs that are available to Youth in the District of Columbia some of which can be replicated in Africa.

Then came day two – the session at Capitol Hill.  Again, we had the diplomats from Africa and this time, they were joined by the Chairperson of the National Youth Counsel in Uganda.  Among the local representatives were Congressman/Chairman, Congress-member Bass, House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, International Youth Foundation (IYF), International Business Machines (IBM), World Bank, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Shea Yeleen and panel moderators from The Washington Post and Voice of America.  I was really impressed by these leaders who are investing in youth leadership development programs because they are ready to pass on the baton to the next generation of equipped heirs.  Listening to the delegates share their investments in Youths and programs in the continent rejuvenated me as I was able to envision a beacon of hope rise up in the world and specifically in Africa. 

I have to admit that hearing leaders representing the African Society and a congress member make remarks like: “Africa is beaming in a generation of hope” and that “exposing the youth to different programs allows them to find their nitch/passion/place in society and groom their leadership skills” was uplifting.  Now more than ever, I am challenged to contribute my quota to Youth leadership development especially for the future generation of the continent.  I am challenged to do ‘what I do’ with a purpose and be very intentional about my contribution to the exponential growth of African Youth leaders.  What will you do to help me meet this challenge?

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A Divine Dream come True

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When I was growing up as a child, I was always inspired by people who teach, speak or who seemed to have the guts to stand on a platform with several eyes watching them.  I cannot explain how being inspired by their bravery led me to my own path of dreaming to become like them some day.  My dream was ignited when I heard the opening address from my high school principal – Mrs. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta.  She sounded eloquent, intelligent, poise and such a graceful ambassador of her country.  This lady was distinctive, dignified and appeared to be lifted from the “bogs” and “stereotypes” of women in our society at the time.  I listened to her with every fiber of my being and deep inside of me, I murmured: “one day, one day, I will be like you”.

My journey of becoming a teacher, speaker and now a coach started in primary school and maybe it is worth mentioning that following my graduation from high school, the same principal who motivated me also mentored me into becoming a teacher in the same school.  Even though the career was short lived, it was the most rewarding first job I could have ever had.

After only one year of University education in The Gambia, I immigrated to the United States in search of higher education and greener pastures.  Even with my accent and being in a foreign land, I received several compliments and positive feedback from my English/speech professors during my years college/University.  Little did I know that such positive reinforcement was all I needed at the time to remind me of my childhood dream. 

Life happened and so did my career choices.  I started in retail and later transitioned into banking where I met my all-time mentor – Anita Kelley who presented me with the opportunity to polish my teaching and speaking skills.  She believed that I had the calling for teaching and positioned me to improve my platform skills.  Then I was introduced to the Mortgage servicing industry where I landed a job which changed the course of my journey.  Even though I was thriving as a leader in my organization, I was miserable inside of me.  The discomfort and dynamics of the work environment pushed me in search of a new job. 

By divine orchestration, I met another ‘purpose-driven’ woman – Myekye Hamilton who coached me into applying for my first training job.  What I thought was a job in the beginning turned into a career and now a lifestyle.  It has been a long journey to get to this point but it is worth the wait.  Now what appeared to be a long shot when I started pursuing my dream of becoming a branded speaker, teacher and coach has been fulfilled.  Today, I celebrate the accomplishment of becoming a John Maxwell Team member – an independent Certified Teacher, Speaker and Coach. 

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