Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, was on the agenda of a small conference in Melbourne, Florida last week, directly in front of my own presentation to the group. It was a surprise. The whole day's activities were switched a bit to make that piece happen. I am not a collector of celebrities; but I have to admit, excitement was in the air as she arrived.
She stepped right into an already planned panel discussion, paying rapt attention to the three panel members who told life stories and then gave the podium to her. She was gracious, exuded warmth, and gave a presentation that illustrated a fine tuned knowledge of her responsibilities with a solid plan for the future. I was proud to be a U.S. Citizen in a country where the leadership is diverse and represents all walks of life and ethnic heritage. This is the rich fabric of our nation that has given us the creative energy and innovation to become the number one economic power in the world.
I am Treasurer of a new organization that was just incorporated; this was our first conference. Imagine the thrill of this beginning. My board members and I posed with Secretary Solis for a picture, and I am anxious for a copy. I have been in Washington, D.C. and Hollywood, Ca. where celebrity abounds but never wanted those posed pictures that did not mean we were "friends." In this case, Secretary Solis is a friend to our organization's goals; she is important.
Her talk was personal and inspiring, followed by a standing ovation. After a round of pictures and a short break, it was time for my interactive workshop. I've been a platform speaker and trainer for years, but my anxiety was high. After someone with so much potential to make a positive difference in our nation, how could I go forward with my presentation on change specific to this group and their individual programs throughout the state?
I had an energized group and moved forward. To my surprise, her energy and motivational words actually provided a springboard for one of my own most successful training endeavors. My audience had just given her their undivided attention and were ready to soak in more information, two hours of hands-on training segments.
Each of us has our own contributions to make at all levels in this life. Whether we touch one person and lead them to their own greatness or many, we are building a new world together and just need to keep on, keeping on. I closed my workshop with a story of five frogs sitting on a log. One decided to jump off. How many are left? The answers from the audience included one, none, four, five and my favorite: they all jumped in to save the one. That answer floored me because the "right answer" is all five. One decided to jump off; but deciding and putting the action into it are two different things. I was promoting "action" with my little story. The audience member with the five wet frogs saw collaboration, cooperation and heartfelt camaraderie.
She is correct. In the end, it is our strength together, not in opposition, that will take us beyond our challenges to a new and different future. Certainly in the planning stages all information is suspect, but facts can lead to joint action. A conference like this, intimate in numbers but large in diversity, is just the place for creativity to grow. I am so glad that I followed a celebrity and basked in the glow of her professional demeanor and practical wisdom.
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