This week marked the 20th anniversary of the Global Leadership Summit. For the past two decades, church and business leaders have been gathering under one roof to be challenged and encouraged by nationally and globally known speakers.
I remember the first time I was in attendance at one of the satellite campuses. Not really knowing what to expect, I was more than impressed at the quality of the production and the overall experience. But as a 25 year old, it was the ideas that left a mark on me. I had never read a book on leadership. I had never really heard a lecture on leadership. In two days, I heard 10 talks about the topic, and I found myself enthralled with this new world.
Like every conference we attend, the newness wears off and the conference notes find an obscure place on the shelf. However, the desire to learn more about leadership has continually grown since that day (a decade ago) I first sat in on the Summit. I have read countless books. I have heard countless talks. I have created my own consulting process built around many of the principles I have learned over the years. It’s safe to say a single conference began to change the direction of my life. Conferences can do that. They affect us. They move us.
Here are three ways conferences expand us.
Something happens when you take time out for training. Whether you’re learning about something utterly foreign to you or a topic you have studied in depth, you are intentionally opening your world to the thoughts of others. You are expanding the horizons of your thinking. You are expanding the horizons of experience. A few years back, I went to a conference where they projected hologram images during the artistic portions of the weekend. And even if I could never afford to project holograms in my regular work week, my horizons were opened and expanded about what is possible.
Expand Our Connections
I’m an extrovert. I like people. I like meeting new people. If I sit next to you at a conference, we will talk. Sorry to all those introverts who’ve had the unfortunate experience of choosing the seat next to me. It’s one of my favorite parts of the conference experience. I get to meet someone new, from somewhere new, who does something different from me. Conferences expand my connections. I get to build connections with people from places I would never go…like Cleveland. I get to rub shoulders with people with jobs I will never have…like rocket scientists (that actually happened). Conferences open you to the opportunity to build connections unlikely to happen in your regular world.
Expand Our Thinking
Every conference is filled with quotes. If you were to pick up every notebook from a conference, they would likely all be filled with the five same quotations from speakers. Conference attendees walk away with nuggets of gold that inspire or challenge them to be better than when they left. Immeasurable innovation has begun over the years in conference settings. One quote sparks a new pathway of thinking. One idea sets in motion a series of big ideas. Conferences can change the way you think forever.
What was the best conference you ever attended? How are you innovating now because of what you gained at a conference?