Late last month, I was invited back for the second time to participate in a meeting at the UN in the Big Apple. New York resembles Texas that they both do everything BIG! My good friend, Madelyn Rodriguez introduced me to the Ambassador of El Salvador at the United Nations and the last time I was there I was asked to share part of my story to a group of leaders while in the building. On this trip I had a private three hour meeting with the Ambassador and we had a dialogue over lunch on ways we can bring leaders from civic, education, religion, sports and other arenas to partner and help bring positive change locally, nationally and globally. The Disney attraction is true, “It’s a small world after all” and when we share resources and open to discussion indeed it gets smaller.
I learned early on that true leadership is often CAUGHT more than taught and I asked if I could bring my nine year old son, Andrew to participate in the meeting. My Dad blessed me immeasurably as a child taking me to Capitol Hill and the White House interacting with his colleagues and watch him interact with leadership. It is true, “to whom much is given much is required.” What a blessing that I could return the favor and invite Andrew to to accompany me on this trip to New York. We left at 3 AM from our house and took the early Amtrak train from Washington to NYC and we had a blast. It is hard to get ahead asleep in the bed and you cannot make much of a difference playing videos on the couch. Before the trip, I shared with Andrew’s art teacher and she graciously ran with the idea to make a gift and she asked some of her students to create a hand made quilt and I had Andrew present it to the Ambassador. The earlier the better when we realize we can represent something greater than our self and it opens their minds and possibilities even wider as adults. I couldn’t be more proud of him and when I asked what was the highlight for him during our trip he said, “when we got our shoes shined together in the train station of Penn Station, NY.” Children really desire quality time with their parents and more than ever I am striving to be a better husband, father and person. It is one thing to speak to a crowd with a microphone but we never speak louder when we quietly communicate life lessons at home.
This has been a busy season and we are blessed to be working on a variety of projects. Presently, I have been having a dialogue with the Department of Education, while also co-producing a project that will become a major motion film, we are partnering with professional sports stars, coaches and teams in helping combat human sex trafficking and invited more than ever to speak into political and prominent leaders coast to coast. Just in the last month our office has fielded possible invites to converse in three different meetings with presidents from three countries. While serving as President of Student Government at John Hanson Middle School in 1985-1986 it helped me not only learn how to write a speech but connect with various people of different backgrounds. Today, regardless of race, religion and/or social background to political preference EVERYONE is important and of value. Next month, I am honored to return for the THIRD year in a row to fly two days after Christmas and speak to nearly 120,000 people at the Nelson Mandela National Soccer Stadium in Uganda, Africa and also connect with students and children. Last year, they televised part of my speech to over 36 Million homes in Africa. Yes, it is a privilege to converse with heads of state but if we fail to invest in students we are missing the mark. Presidents are very important but principals, teachers and our youth are extra special. In closing, who can you help mentor or reach out to this week to make your world a better place? Take time to inspire another and if you see a turtle on a fence post it didn’t get there by accident. Someone put him there! True leadership is developing others to be better tomorrow because you helped them today. Success in its purest form is selfless not selfish. We all win when we open doors for another.