“If you don’t participate, you can’t complain.”
“There’s a wisdom and a power that’s inside of you, that never leaves you … it’s just a matter of whether or not you have clarity to hear it and the courage to listen to it.”
Nationally known speakers John O’Leary and Mel Robbins inspired and challenged 330 attendees with those words of wisdom and many more at Friday’s MTSU Leadership Summit. Hosted by the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro, the focus of this year’s conference was the passion and innovation needed by leaders who want to grow their businesses.
O’Leary, author of the book “On Fire,” shared touching life lessons about his survival from a horrific childhood accident that left his entire body severely burned and resulted in the loss of many of his fingers.
Using an on-stage piano to illustrate his story, O’Leary beautifully played a portion of music group Coldplay’s “The Scientist” as he shared how his mother, following his accident and on his tough road to recovery, forced him to take piano lessons as a challenge to not let his injuries define his life.
“It’s not easy,” he told the crowd, “but it’s possible.”
Using a series of questions — “Why me?” “Who cares?” and “What more can I do?” — O’Leary explained that the effectiveness or lack thereof of business leaders today will depend on what perspective they apply to those questions — one of exasperation vs. one of inspiration.
“And I think we have to be bold in the way we lead our firms, our businesses and our campuses, (and) our lives, going forward,” he said.
Tayla Middleton, an MTSU business management junior, was among numerous students attending the summit. She was drawn not only to the speakers, but also by the networking opportunities available among the many business professional in attendance.
“To get ahead in my career, I need to get out and network, to listen to the business leaders who are already out there and meet future business leaders,” she said, noting that O’Leary’s advice about leaders needing to set the right example through action, not just talk, stuck with her.
O’Leary’s talk was followed by Robbins, a serial entrepreneur, CNN contributor and author, who broke down the “The 5-Second Rule,” the problem-solving technique that she turned into a book that continues to be a fixture on Amazon’s “Top Ten Most Read List” and is one of the most successful audio books ever published.
“If you want to feel more in control of your life and work, then get ready,” Jones College Dean David Urban told the audience in introducing Robbins. “We wanted you to meet Mel because she has the power to radically alter your life for the better.”
Robbins’ “5-Second Rule” is a principle in which the user counts down “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and then immediately takes action toward a task rather than allowing fear to stop them. Her digital platform is engaged by more than 20 million people a month and her TEDx talk about change has more than 13 million views.
“You’ve gotta move within five seconds or your brain will stop you,” said Robbins, who delved into the science and research behind how the brain works. Two of the biggest issues faced by those her company interacts with are anxiety and procrastination, she said, and her rule can help overcome both challenges.
“You can’t control the change that is happening in this world. You can’t control what’s happening in your life — good, bad, beautiful, ugly,” she said. “… But you can always control what you think or do in response. And when you embrace the idea of you are always in control of what you’re thinking, you are always in control of how you act next, you have found the secret to changing anything.
“Will you change? … Do have the will to push yourself when you don’t want to?”
MTSU student Mohamadu Bah, an information systems major, said such summits and workshops are helpful and “very inspirational ” and will motivate him to pursue his dream of being an IT specialist for a Fortune 500 company.
“This has inspired me to never give up, and pursue what I’m trying to chase,” he said.
Murfreesboro Young Professionals (MYP), Jennings A. Jones Chair of Excellence in Free Enterprise, and the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning were event sponsors.
O’Leary’s and Robbins’ appearances follow last year’s summit, which featured “Shark Tank” star Daymond John and online magician Vinh Giang.
For more information about the Jones College of Business, visit www.mtsu.edu/business.
— Jimmy Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org)