Winston Churchill called Uganda the pearl of Africa and this past week I got to experience why. Having never been to this particular part of the world, I watched numerous documentaries and read as much information as I could in preparation for my trip. Multiple sources reported that the Ugandans are among the friendliest people on the planet, which made me even more excited about my upcoming visit. My father was known as a world-class hugger but would also greet everyone with five simple words, "Thank you for your smile." From the minute my plane landed in Entebbe until I departed for Dubai, I was shown a record amount of genuine, joy-infused smiles. I was swamped just thanking people for their smiles!
My purpose for traveling to Uganda began with an invitation from the founder of Pastors Discipleship Network, Dr. Richmond Wandera, to speak at his organization’s Women of Influence two-day leadership conference. Richmond and I crossed paths in our Leadership Doctoral program through Lancaster Bible College. His story is one filled with grace, mercy, and hope, and it was an honor to witness first-hand his vision for impacting and transforming his home country.
There were four significant surprises in store for me on this trip. The first was how hungry these women were to learn leadership principles and application. Some of the women traveled up to 400 km which even in the US would be a considerable distance for a conference. Several of the women slept overnight at the Winchester Center as lodging is expensive and scarce in Kampala. Also, the longer the conference went on, the more ladies showed up! They went back to the villages after the first day and spread the word! For those of us in the speaking world, this experience was surreal. They wrote down every word, the asked questions indicative of higher order thinking, and they displayed humble hearts to be developed.
The second surprise was how much of our leadership journeys are shared. In today's world, there is so much contention about who has what experiences and whether they can be valid in someone else's eyes. There was none of that here. I was reminded that first and foremost, we are all members of the human race with a shared desire to be a part of a community, provide value and meaning, and to serve others. We also went deep into the importance of reading, something that ranks very low on most Americans list of personal development to do’s. These women were excited at the prospect of how much they could learn from books and took down every title I recommended.
The third surprise was how much of our experiences matched, from working in predominantly male environments and the challenges and opportunities that accompany that, to work-life balance, to dealing with betrayals from those closest to you, to what do you do with a lazy employee. I even talked about writing their stories so they could share their leadership journey with others. When I mentioned that I would be honored to publish them the discussion got even more animated. Seems getting your story out there is also a universal we all share. We have it drilled into our heads that we all have such different experiences in our life buckets; however, we all work with people. And people are, at their core, governed by emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. While the contexts may be different, the internal coding is not.
The fourth surprise was the number of blessings I received. I knew this would be a time of refreshment for me and totally open up my worldview, but I had no idea to what extent. My father always told me that we don't give to get; that's trading. We give because out of giving comes a greater capacity to give. More real words were never spoken. I met over 150 of my Christian sisters from across the globe, not to mention the incredible men that were serving and ministering as well.
I cannot thank you all enough for your support of Tremendous Leadership throughout the years. I fund this portion of my ministry through the business. In other words, the for-profit arm of the company funds the charitable costs. So each of you that have purchased a product, given away one of our books, shared our social media posts, prayed, sent positive words or thoughts, invited me to speak or shared my name with an organization looking for a speaker, made last week a reality. Thank you for the blessing of this life changing journey.