Many years ago, as a fellow of Leadership Philadelphia, I attended a seminar where an accomplished anthropologist spoke about the power and influence of networks. She asked the group of leaders, “what is the most valuable currency that will move a critical agenda forward in your company or organization?” Fellows, which included CEOs, executive directors and other C-suite leaders, took their best guesses – money, power, position, influence – but none were correct. The greatest currency? Trust and respect, she shared. That is the currency that moves civilizations.
Whether you plug in or tune out, it is hard to avoid the topic of bitterness and division. It is in the headlines, on the nightly news, in our social media feeds and at our family gatherings. Everywhere we look, differences – political, racial, geographical, and otherwise – threaten to divide us. Amidst deep political divisions, heartbreaking displays of hate and intolerance, and a growing distrust of people and institutions, it is critical that we leverage every available opportunity to lift each other up and inspire one another to move beyond this destructive force field.
At the core of our philosophy at Points of Light is a belief that the most powerful force in the world is the individual who has realized their power to do good, and who applies their time, talent, and resources to make a positive difference.
When President George H.W. Bush was in office in 1990, and after Nelson Mandela was released from prison, as a young civil rights lawyer living in Chicago reflecting on the need for more light, I wrote a poem. It was a privilege to share this poem last night at the opening plenary session of Service Unites 2018. Many of you have requested a copy of this poem, “How I Read a Poem Like This,” and we are pleased to share it with you, our community of changemakers – points of light in communities around the world, who are helping to ignite a civic culture. Thank you.
In celebration of the diversity of ways in which women lead a civic life, we brought together three nonprofit founders from around the world to share their experiences, talk about their work as part of the Points of Light Network, and offer advice to emerging women leaders who will continue to carry forward our collective mission.