Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Actions Speak Louder than Words

I met James in the summer of 2010. He was 17 years old and he lived in Kenya. James attended a summer program I helped create called the Ultimate Life Summit. All of the students learn the 7 Mindsets that the world’s happiest and most successful people have in common. The purpose of the summit is to empower young people to live to their greatest potential so in turn they can live their ultimate life and make a positive impact on the world.

As you might imagine, learning the 7 Mindsets is one thing but living them is entirely another. One way we help our students put the mindsets into practice is through something we call the Live to Give Challenge. We ask the students to connect something they are passionate about with a social cause they truly believe in. Upon returning to Kenya, James connected his passion for soccer with a very severe social issue. Many young Kenyan teens join gangs and get involved in violent activities. James organized a soccer league targeted to at-risk youth so they would learn to play together instead of fight with one another. I received a special letter from James and I ‘want to share part of it with you…

“Scott, have you ever had elaborate plans that you were about to unleash on the world and then something changed? Here’s what happened to me. I was asked to speak at a local high school in Kenya to help motivate the students to improve their academic performance. After a long day of teaching the 7 Mindsets to 500 students I went into a lounge for some refreshments. It was there that I met a man named Alex. Earlier in the day I listened as Alex played the guitar and sang beautiful lyrics for the other students. It was truly inspiring. But now he looked depressed so I approached him to see what was wrong.

“Alex told me that he’s had a troubled past. He had to drop out of school when he was 14 because violence erupted in his village. His family was forced to live in temporary shelters and their belongings were regularly washed away in storms. Due to the pressure his family fell apart. His father abandoned them and then his mother remarried leaving him to fend for himself. He did menial jobs just to survive and eventually saved some money to enroll in high school at the age of 22. However, he could no longer afford the tuition of $400 and he was being asked to leave. Then he turned to me and said, ‘James, I believe you can help me.’

“Without even thinking I blurted out, ‘Me? I am only 19. I am younger than you. How can I help you?’ Scott, just the day before I was paid $300 for work I had done at a research company. I had been saving my money so in July I could buy some cows and start my own small ranch. As you know I’ve been accepted into a college but I don’t have enough money to attend. I’m trying to save money to help make my own dreams a reality. Many thoughts swirled through my head and then I heard myself say, ‘Alex, I will pay your fees.’

“I had an option of sticking to my business plan or to reach out and save a life. Too often we let our age, financial positions and norm deter us from experiencing the fulfillment of transforming lives. That experience taught me that the greatest joy will never be drawn from self-gratification, but from putting a smile on someone’s face. As I write, Alex is in school stress free. I may have no money in the bank, but I can smile each day knowing full well that I made my greatest investment in Alex. The best place to leave your imprint is not on billboards, newspapers or magazines, but on the hearts of men. LIVE TO GIVE!!! Yours Sincerely, James.”

Well James, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Since I know you read my weekly story I hope you don’t mind that my response to you is shared with the 2 million other readers who receive this every week. Your letter has inspired me to create a special Ultimate Life College Scholarship Fund. There’s no need for you to apply as your actions speak louder than anything you could put on paper. Congratulations James…you have become the first Ultimate Life Scholar and with this designation I am awarding you a $10,000 scholarship. James, pack your bags, you’re going to college! I believe investing in you will pay the world many dividends. Thanks for reminding all of us that the fastest way to live our own dreams is to first help someone else live theirs.

Until next week…

Live Your Dreams

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