TROY - Personal development coach and motivational speaker Sheri Riley brought the two-day Leadership Conference Celebrating Black History Month on the campus of Troy University to a close on Saturday, challenging participants to become servant leaders.
Riley, founder and chief partnership strategist of her own personal development company in Atlanta and a certified personal development coach and life strategist, coaches, mentors, and provides spiritual advice, life strategy and personal advice to celebrities, athletes, corporate executives and high achievers. A featured columnist for BlackEnterprise.com, she is a founding member of John C. Maxwell’s Coaching, Speaking, Training Team and is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
“Today we have those who are defined as leaders by title rather than by character,” she said. “We have those who are defined as leaders by their success rather than by their significance. We have leaders defined by how many followers they have rather than how many they serve. We need servant leaders.”
Riley said servant leaders: submit to God, commit to personal awareness, possess vision and clarity, have ability to listen and discern, are decisive and yet flexible, possess confidence but are humble and have the ability to “fail forward.”
“Failure is inevitable,” Riley said. “I wish someone had prepared me for that while I was a college student. Failures are going to come in life, but what we must remember is that while failure is inevitable, recovery is optional. We must prepare and equip ourselves to be able to ascend above our circumstances and move forward.”
In closing, Riley challenged participants to be courageous.
“Our history and legacy have been written not by the fearful many but the courageous few,” she said. “Be among the courageous.”
The 12th annual conference, which is co-sponsored by Troy University and the City of Troy, kicked off Friday night with an address by keynote speaker Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. A native of Philadelphia, Dr. Hill is a commentator for media outlets National Public Radio, The Washington Post, Essence Magazine, the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel. Additionally he is an associate professor of education at Columbia University and on the faculty of Columbia’s Institute for Research in African American Studies.
“We must hope relentlessly,” Dr. Hill said during his remarks to the opening session of the conference. “Hope is an acknowledgement that the world is bad -- that there are enemies -- but I can be a prisoner of hope and struggle to make my world better. Hope is believing that I do not have to be what I once was. This hope, this struggle will be our legacy to the world.”
Dr. Hill told the audience that while the past must not be forgotten, it can’t be allowed to be a stumbling block to the future.
“Just as we celebrate the freedom we have today, we have to keep track of ‘unfreedom’...homelessness, mass school dropouts, jails filling up,” he said. “The world is not finished yet, we must listen carefully, remember truthfully, act bravely and hope relentlessly, if we are to honor our ancestors and live up to their legacy by becoming the great leaders we are capable of.”