This speech was delivered everyone in attendance at the Youth Conference in Pensacola, Florida. I was honored to be the keynote speaker at this event.
Please view the accompanying video as well!
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to be here tonight. Truly I feel honored. I would like to especially thank Mrs. Blackmon for extending me this invitation to be here tonight as there is no other place I would rather be at this very moment. I also want to thank my wife Jasmine for being here with me tonight; your love and support have been my greatest gifts in life.
I hope that the gentlemen are paying especially good attention to the fact that I am here because of two strong women and I hope that you too always take the opportunity to praise the strong women in your life starting from the one who has given birth to you. And if I may, I would like to take this moment to acknowledge all the women who are here today. We thank you for all that you do.
I am an Active Duty Naval Officer and because of that it is very important that I mention that what I am going to talk to you about this evening is my view alone and does not represent the view of the United States Navy nor the Department of Defense. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, close the doors and will tell you all the secrets… of life
My talk today will have 3 parts.
First, I will tell you about myself and how I got my start in becoming that man that I am today.
Second, I will talk to you about the importance of creating value for yourself, creating value for the people around you, and how to leave the world a little better place than you found it in the process.
And thirdly, I will talk to you about how you can leverage the takeaways from this conversation today to better yourselves as men and women and to greater serve your families and communities at large.
Now that we have a framework in mind, let’s start with our first point. Let me tell you about myself and my beginnings
I know you have been very anxious to know about my accent, as you can tell it is not a southern accent. Although I do sometimes wish it was a southern accent. At least if this was the case, people would not have to cite all the countries in the Caribbean before guessing the right one. I was born and raised in Haiti which is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. I migrated to the US when I was 20 years old and if you think my accent is strong, you should have heard me then; needless to say, just like all of you, I had my fair share of challenges ahead of me even though they may have been different than yours. For instance, my first job in the U.S was in a packing house, packing tomatoes in boxes, later I moved up to a much superior job, I became a dishwasher where my colleagues would make fun of both my accent and my dream of becoming a physician every single day, day in and day out. These are not the stories that I want to emphasize tonight. I want you to remember about finding your purpose in life.
I found my sense of purpose in life at an early age as I used to tell my siblings I wanted to become a Doctor so that my patients could give me a live turkey just as my mother has done for the physician who saved her life. It was this gesture of appreciation on my mother’s behalf that displayed to me the importance of gratitude. The idea of becoming a physician was later reaffirmed and emboldened at 7 years of age, when my second-grade teacher told me that I was from a dumb family. Instinctively I felt that I wanted to prove her wrong. Right there, I made the decision and committed myself to having the highest grade in the class and I did. While she had a low expectation of me, I had higher expectation for myself. I viewed myself differently and I knew that I was valuable.
Don’t ever let the opinion of someone else define who you are. I have 5 sisters and 2 brothers and none of them finished high school, but I did thanks to their love and support. My siblings supported my dream as if it was their own and from the size of this audience here tonight I can see that you too also have a great family support. The key factor to a successful life is to continually dare to dream of a more perfect life toward the realization of your life’s purpose. Never let yourself be restricted by the fences of limitations that people and society put around you. Sometimes society puts you inside a box that is too small for you. It is up to you to break that box and to free yourself by investing in your education. But first, you need to have a purpose, your purpose in life. Your purpose is the seed to your success. It must be planted, watered, and nurtured long before it can be fruit. Let me repeat that one more time, your purpose is the seed to your success. It must be planted, watered, and nurtured long before it can be fruit.
When I was a child no more than three years of age, my mother became severely ill but my parents could not afford the lifesaving surgery that was needed. Years later my mother still tells the story of the doctor who graciously volunteered his time to save her life even though he knew that my parents would never be able to pay him back. The doctor operated on my mother regardless thus saving her life and also kindly accepting the live turkey as a token of payment. Though I was too young to understand when I heard this story, I knew I wanted to emulate that doctor by serving people both out of the kindness of my heart and as a duty to my fellow human beings. THAT was my goal. But, I did not know how to make that goal a reality until I found a book.
When I was 15 years old, I found a copy of one of Zig Ziglar’s books, entitled “See You at the Top.” Thanks to that book, I am convinced that my true purpose in life is to always give more than I have received. This brings me to the second part of this talk.
The second part of my speech this evening is the reason why I am truly excited to be here with you. Because I want to talk to you this evening about how to fulfill your human need to be of value and to give back to those around you. While we may think of ourselves as just individuals, the truth is that we are actually part a fabric called humanity and that our individual lives are interwoven with the lives of everyone else. Our purpose in live should always be derived from our intrinsic desire to do good to all. So first and foremost, I want you to go home tonight and to not go to bed until you can 100% be certain of the answer to the question of what your purpose in life is.
Learn to give back. Yes, you may not have much but you still can give back. It does not matter how bad your situation is, I guarantee there is someone out there who is worse off than you are; therefore, we are valuable and you are well able and capable to give back, it can be your time, your skills or your money, it does not matter how little that you have.
As I encountered other people at the top of their respective careers during my journey to a more successful life, I realized that my story is not unique. I have succeeded, as have others in similar (or even more dire) circumstances, and this will, I hope, bring you hope. I am not here tonight to impress you with my personal achievements; instead I am here to impress upon you that anything is possible and as long as you believe in yourself, it can happen. Believing everything is possible is what can turn a poor person into a philanthropist, Believing everything is possible is what can turn an uneducated person into a scholar, Believing everything is possible is what can turn a vagabond into an officer, and Believing everything is possible is what can turn a student into a professor. Any circumstance can be turned around into a more positive one by self-improvement.
I understand that each individual is unique and what works for one person may not work for the next. However, the 7 Checklist Items for Success that I have developed represents a foundation, which can support the framework of any type of success. These 7 Checklist Items for Success, if you choose to follow them, will change your life beyond your wildest dreams and they will indeed help to create a life of value not just for yourself, but also for those around you. You will be able to give back far more than you have received from the world. In the book, I lay out ways where you can start to take control of your life. I encourage you to please take notes so that you can refer back to them as many times you need. Without further ado, my 7 Checklist Items for Success are the following:
- Goals: Have goals for your life. Just like the most sophisticated transportation machine cannot reach its final destination without knowing where it’s going first, we too cannot reach our full potential or our final destination in life without goals. Have at least 5 long-term goals for your life and from there, every morning has 5 short-term goals for each day.
- Take Action: We can have the most ideal goals in life, but if we do not take action towards their realization, it is likely that these goals will not come to fruition. Action has to be deliberate, surgically precise, and consistent to your predetermined goals.
- Courage: You need to have the courage to remain committed to do the things that are needed to reach your goals. To be successful in life you must remain committed to your goals day after day, week after week, and year after year. You need to seek and maintain the courage to find the excitement needed to do the things you said you would do even though you don’t feel like it, and even though years have passed since you first said you would do them.
- Value Resources: the 24- hours of each day is our most valuable resource. Seek to value them and use them wisely. Seek to create value for yourself through reading and educating yourself.
- Investment: Seek to invest in projects where you have a competitive advantage. Seek to be debt free. Seek to always invest in yourself by sharpening your talents with books, seminars, and mentoring. Never forget that your greatest wealth is your mind, seek to make it richer every single day.
- Give back: Seek to give back in the form of improving the lives of people around you. People may not always remember your name but they will always remember the way you make them feel by the way you value them.
- Legacy: Live your life as if you are going to die tomorrow or as if you were dead and you are the observer of your own actions. If the thought of death is a too much for you, how about you seek to live your life as if your actions of today were going to be watched by your mother on the nightly news tomorrow would she be proud of these actions? If you can answer yes to that question every day, I guarantee you your legacy will be great.
Let’s go back to that doctor I mentioned earlier who, in the truest sense of these words, created value for my family when my parents could not have afforded it. In a sense, you have just witnessed his legacy of giving back. If my mother had died, my father could never have cared for 8 children alone, and there would be no way that I would be here with you tonight. In a sense, at this very moment you and I are living the creation of value and the act of giving back which I consider the legacy of that physician. Now my question to you is: what kind of value are you going to create for others and the world?
It is my hope and prayers that you will join me to continue that circle of creating value and leaving the lives of others and the world a little better than you have found them. I wish you the very best this world has to offer.