Ellis County is the official launch location for the Beyond Success roundtable leadership program in the United States.

John Maxwell, a New York Times bestselling author, is no stranger to Waxahachie, either. He served as the keynote speaker at the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce event, WX Leaders Summit.

The topic of discussion during a Thursday roundtable hosted by the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce was the leadership program that focuses on values and personal growth from a variety of perspectives — personally and professionally.

Some Ellis County leaders and community members have already completed the six-week program and seen definite improvements in the areas of discussion that include attitude, personal growth, integrity, priorities, work ethic and relationships.

Three-year Midlothian resident Vimary "Vi" Nieves heard about the leadership series through the Oaks Church and wanted to give it a try. Nieves homeschooled her children and decided to focus her roundtable conversation with other mothers who educate their children at home.

"This was a great opportunity for us to come together value each other and cheer each other on for greater things," Nieves said after a facilitator training session. "What we do is amazing, but we have more to offer."

After the first six weeks, Nieves said she felt more empowered from effective communication and was even more fulfilled as a facilitator to witness her peers flourish as well.

Initially, Nieves questioned if she could even facilitate a group while grieving the death of her 14-year-old daughter, who passed two years ago. The program has proved to provide another support system, and Nieves has already begun the second six-week segment called "Intentional Living."

Nieves was one of 15 individuals who attended the facilitator training at the Midlothian Civic Center on Thursday.

Carolina Donis, a founding member and executive director of Guatemala Prospera, which is focused on promoting leadership principles and values worldwide, hosted the two-hour seminar. She also has 13 years of experience training roundtable facilitators.

After Maxwell called Donis in January 2012, she became a consultant for the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation and now serves as the director of Transformation Country Initiative for Guatemala, Paraguay and Costa Rica.

Maxwell already had the Beyond Success program established but wanted to incorporate Donis' roundtable expertise.

Donis has a bachelor's degree in international law and legal studies and obtained her master's in counseling psychology and mental health counseling. She, along with her husband, David, trained the individuals to become facilitators for the one-hour-a-week, six-week program.

Groups consist of three to eight people that meet in a safe space to reflect on their own challenges and set goals of self-improvement while learning from other experiences communicated by other members.

"As human beings, we are wired to hear stories," Donis explained.

In each session, the group starts with a video and fills out a guide. Then, member-by-member, a short passage and a list of benefits are read. After the message is read, the facilitator will share with the group what line reached out to him or her and why. Then the members do that same.

Members then rank themselves on the value being studied and provide an explanation for the score and answers three remaining questions that includes setting a SMART goal, which means specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.

"Something that can be measurable and has to be small. Part of what we are doing here that those little things will change the outcome of our life or organization," Donis explained.

The leadership principles shared in the Beyond Success materials are those taken directly from John Maxwell's live conferences and leadership books that have been purchased by over 30 million people.

A WORLDWIDE IMPACT

A group of five Ellis County men was responsible for reaching the Beyond Success program. One of them even experienced the launch for Costa Rica, and others ventured to Guatemala where half-a-million people have completed the series.

In the Republic of Guatemala, 30,000 policemen were trained and 165,000 school teachers completed the 30-week edition (all public school teachers in Guatemala). There are 13 departments of the Guatemalan government and one-by-one, each branch undergoes the program. Donis elaborated saying that half a million fourth and seventh-grade students went through the youth curriculum.

Donis said cultural transformation starts with 10 percent of a community.

"We try to reach 10 percent so here working in Ellis County I'm trying to reach the 10 percent of the population to work toward the same values," Donis explained. "It then becomes the narrative of the county."

Another facilitator training hosted by Donis will take place on June 17 at the Waxahachie Parks and Recreation building, located at 400 S. Grand Ave. The free training session will take place from 8—10 a.m. Materials will be provided.

To begin the Beyond Success roundtable experience, visit www.beyondsuccess.us to print out the free materials to complete the program.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450