This summer, I was fortunate enough to attend two international conventions. One was the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta last June, where over 30,000 delegates from about 200 countries attended. The other one was this month’s (August) huge three-day Breakthrough Convention of the World Financial Group (WFG), attended by over 34,000 people from all over the U.S. and Canada in Las Vegas. Both were successful and powerful conventions but quite different in so many aspects. Let me elaborate.
Both conventions showcased historic successes of what they do on different prisms and criteria. The Atlanta RI Convention’s opening ceremony where a country’s representative carried their national flag for all to see and witness was electrifying and emotional. Many countries are almost unknown in the parade but they were present to participate in this annual convention where all delegates were accepted with equality and dignity. Some nation’s delegations I heard were only a dozen or even less, while others like the Philippines, have over 1,000 delegates. The parade of colorful flags with different national attires was so beautiful and emotional that gave evidence to one common theme: when a member is hurting the entire planet hurts.
The Rotary Convention applauded and honored many outstanding individuals who were doing extraordinary feats, using both their money and influence to improve the quality of life. Most invited leaders and speakers shared their experiences in their respective districts or nations and were exemplary doing genuine “Service Above Self.”
Their sense of fulfillment making this world a better place was their primary consideration. As a Rotarian for almost 20 years now, I continue to be in awe and inspired, like thousands of people who witnessed and heard their stories to ease or eliminate the suffering of millions of people around the world. For instance, with their wealth, Bill Gates from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has again committed to contribute another $150 million. He previously contributed $350 million to eradicate polio and other deadly diseases. With his inspiring lead, other countries and philanthropists followed. Aside from the eradication of polio, there are other human needs that RI is helping to solve like literacy, conflict resolution, clean water, hunger, education and poverty. Having attended at least six conventions in the past couple of decades, I am still amazed how our organization continues to do great things to make our world a better place for next generations to come.
I can’t wait to attend the next RI Convention in Toronto, Canada in June 2018, where another milestone of Rotarians’ humanitarian work is expected to be unveiled for all the world of Rotarians to see to inspire them to keep on doing what they do. Then in June 2019, Europe will host Convention in the city of Hamburg, Germany.
If you are a Rotarian, now or in the near future, I challenge you to attend one and visit the international “House of Friendship” where you can talk to someone from another country and learn so many things. When you are in this “house,” you will feel that you have been to many “nations” with just one trip. Your experience and lessons learned will be worth all the time and money.
Last week’s WFG Convention, which was even bigger than the RI Convention was quite different as it showcased success in another measure. Leaders and million dollar earners were paraded and given a few minutes to share their stories before thousands of people to see them live as the “STARS” in the convention. These successful leaders came from different walks of life, educational, economic or national backgrounds. What binds them are their focus and discipline to be totally driven to do business at all costs. As a writer and a businessman who earns his income from several sources, it seems to me that many of these successful leaders are totally or even “blindly” focused to just doing WFG. And these leaders flock together as one group almost every meeting day or night! They just major in one thing: “recruit, recruit, recruit and reaping the recruits’ warm market.” As in most network marketing, however, the vast majority, at least 80-90 percent maybe, is just infatuated to become millionaires but will never be able to leave their jobs that provide their families’ bread and butter.
Perhaps one percent of all recruits can achieve great success, measured primarily by their bank account. Unfortunately, in some instances, some leaders do not become better human beings despite the substantial money that they earn. But then, in all businesses and professions, it’s human nature. Money does not necessarily make a person more likable but exposes what he is made of when he becomes richer. That is life, after all. Each person can only define his own definition of success.
Attending these two conventions has affirmed my long-held belief that indeed each individual dances to a different drummer, which makes this world a more interesting and challenging planet to trek on. I’ve known and met hundreds of Rotarians as well as WFG agents the last couple of decades and I have discriminately chosen my “role models” and friends from each group. As in a dense forest where animals thrive, not all are worth capturing as doing so might lead one to a deep quicksand where one can no longer extricate himself from that deep pit of apathy and enjoy the beautiful stars in the horizon, above that forest.
To end this summer column, I want to share two definitions of success. I hope some of your dear readers will find one or both interesting or relevant:
“That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
Here is the second definition hanging in my office: “You can use most any measure when you’re speaking of success. You can measure it in fancy home, expensive car or a dress. But the measure of you real success is the one that you cannot spend. It ‘s the way your kids describe you when they are talking to a friend!”
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