destiny? Who me? You’ve got to be kidding. . .
When I was just 16 years old, my Mother
gave me a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman
Vincent Peale. She was hoping (and praying) that something
would get through to me and help me make better choices than
I was making. I had dropped out of high school, started
drinking and smoking cigarettes (and occasionally other
things . . . ) and I was wasting my life.
the gift of that book did set into motion a series of
“discoveries” over the next few years that led me into a
life-long interest in personal growth and development. In
recent years, my focus has shifted more toward stewardship
and spiritual enlightenment and I have been blessed to have
experienced some of the world’s top experts and trainers and
coaches on successful living.
more of the background on how a high school drop out
graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Masters in Community
Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University
and became the co-founder of several non-profit
organizations and cause-oriented companies involved in
personal, organizational and community development.
My first real
job was through an unsolicited grant in 1969 from the
American Friends Service Committee. The grant was to develop
a Community Development Center in Greenville, Mississippi to
support desegregation of the public schools. Through a
number of unexpected circumstances over the following years,
I found myself working as a disaster relief specialist for
HUD, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
years of helping disaster victims deal with and recover from
natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes and earthquakes,
I was asked to take some assignments in a different kind of
“man made” disasters. That led me to serving HUD for another
few years in “troubled offices” such as Detroit, St. Louis,
Chicago and East St. Louis, Illinois.
In 1978, my
then wife and our two young children moved to the
intentional community of Stelle, Illinois about an hour and
a half south of Chicago to focus on our interest in personal
development and spiritual awakening. I was still working for
HUD in the Chicago Loop and my daily commute was about five
hours. Just imagine that drive in a Midwest blizzard in the
flatlands . . .
me a copy of Lead the Field, the classic audio cassette tape
program by Earl Nightingale. I listened to those six tapes
every weekday for many weeks. The results were so amazing in
terms of my increased positive outlook, my sense of being in
control of my destiny and overall well-being. I started
buying and consuming more tapes by Brian Tracy, Norman
Vincent Peale, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, etc.
After a few
months of enjoying my “mobile University”, the changes in me
and in my life were so profound and obvious to friends and
family that I kept getting asked what I was doing that was
producing those improvements in my attitudes, happiness,
effectiveness and productiveness. As a result of sharing all
the resources on success secrets with other members of my
community, I was inspired in 1980 to create a 16 week class
on PST! Personal Success Techniques.
two-years of the daily commute from Stelle to Chicago, I
retired early from HUD and increased my focus on various
personal and community development projects. In 1998, I was
asked by HUD to accept the position as Director of Community
and Economic Development for the City of Kankakee,
in fact a “disaster” in many ways which the Fantus
Organization attributed to several decades of racial,
political and geographic divisiveness. What a perfect
assignment for a disaster relief specialist.
spending most of the first few months helping resolve some
issues between HUD and the City, I was free to start
experimenting with my vision of combining personal and
community development in ways that might “expand the circle
of success.” By then I had learned from experience as a
distributor for several of the leading development training
companies that they focused only on the top 10% to 13% of
Presidents and CEO’s of those companies would tell us to
ignore the other 87% of the population, I was always one of
those who got in trouble by pointing out that those folks
lived in my community . . . that we are only one people,
with one future and one economy.
interviewed the psychologists and psychiatrists in Kankakee
County, I learned that the two major conditions they were
treating were negativity and depression, largely due the
massive impact on the County of 100,000 losing about 8,000
union jobs. After convening a task force of community
leaders to brainstorm what could possibly be done to provide
help in that environment, we decided to produce a Community
Unity Event. Our objectives were to promote positive
thinking, personal and community empowerment and
appreciation of multicultural and geographic differences.
situation, who else would we bring in but Dr. Norman Vincent
Peale to speak on The Power of Positive Thinking and Les
Brown to share his exciting and motivating messages on the
Power of a Larger Vision. That was only the beginning of my
“graduate level work” on myself and the organizations and
communities I was involved with.
Over the next
few years, I was blessed to be able to produce major events
with Les Brown several times, with Brian Tracy, Mark Victor
Hansen, Jim Rohn, Bonnie St. John and several others. Many
of the individuals and companies that had sponsored our
Community Unity Celebration became close friends and
advisors as we developed a Community Development
Corporation, spearheaded the successful renovation of a
22,000 square foot National Guard Armory building into an
award-winning Community Resource Center. We also co-founded
Kankakee County CAN DO! as a vehicle for promoting positive
thinking within and about the area and YOUth CAN DO!
several non-profit organization s and created a model for
smaller communities to learn how to come together and
co-create a shared vision and discern how best to pool
resources and meet common needs. At that time, before 911,
most of the large scale development training events were
mostly produced in cities of a million or more population by
for-profit promoters from out-of-town who put on a one day
show and took home the dough.
developed and are now sharing with the world a template for
smaller communities to be able to provide the same caliber
of world-class training to benefit their residents. And in
our model, the local community gets to keep most of any
proceeds to facilitate personal and community development
when, where and how they feel is most appropriate for their
community. See You CAN DO! Too for the details..
Copyright 2008 by Charles Betterton. All