Earlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Ignite Excellence Conference in Toronto. Suzanne F. Stevens, the founder of the Ignite Excellence Foundation, inspired 150 people to attend the event and support her vision of raising funds for African Leaders of Tomorrow. With an incredible line-up of speakers, entertainers and suppliers who gave their time and attended at their own expense, the Ignite Excellence Foundation raised over $30,000 (the final figure may go higher). All proceeds of the event will be donated to build the Leah Ngini Community Centre at the African National University in Nairobi, Kenya and provide scholarships to prospective women leaders. Suzanne’s dedication and focus on helping educate women in particular to advance their education and realize their own vision is a cause so dear to Suzanne that she has recently sold her house and is moving to Africa early in 2011 to immerse herself in her passion in order to make a difference on a global level. One of the most influential comments to have an impact on her life was this quote from Dr. Douglas Carew, Vice-Chancellor of African National University:
“The biggest problem in Africa today is not AIDS, poverty, disease, education or urbanization; the biggest problem is LEADERSHIP. When moral leaders of integrity and justice arise, then Africa’s problems will be solved”.
The event was a phenomenal success, not only because of the dollars raised, but also because the attendees were there to learn about investing in their careers to ultimately lead themselves. Therefore, a dual objective was realized as participants were educating themselves to become the leader of their own lives, as well as helping others in the process. The overall experience of participating in this event and witnessing Suzanne’s vision in action made me reflect on the difference between being transactional versus transformational in our day-to-day living. Essentially, it is about living a purposeful life rather than just going through the motions of our waking hours. Having a vision and putting energy into making it a reality results in a greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
Vision – My top ten favourite quotations:
The world of tomorrow belong to the person who has the vision today – Robert Schuller
See things as you would have them be instead of as they are – Robert Collier
The willingness to create a new vision is a statement of your belief in your potential – David McNally
Vision is the art of seeing the invisible – Jonathan Swift
The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious – John Scully
You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus – Mark Twain
Where you come from is not nearly as important as where you are going – Unknown
The saddest thing in the world is a person who has their sight but has no vision – Helen Keller
Vision without execution is hallucination – Thomas Edison
The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it – Michelangelo