National Speakers Association Black National Speakers Association Greg Smith Strength Award Winner Summer Owens
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How Winning a National Speakers Strength Award Inspires Strength in Others

When I came home from school on my first day of kindergarten, my mom quizzed me about my teacher’s name. I excitedly repsonded, “Mrs. Muscles!”.

Her name was actually Mrs. Armstrong, but that memory always makes me smile even through pain when I think about strength. This is us when I was in kindergarten in 1984 and when I ran into her in 2022. I know…

Summer Owens and kindergarten teacher

Over 30 years later when I earned the credentials and joined the National Speakers Association, winning the Strength Award given by the Black National Speakers Association community group was not on my wishlist.

At least since I was a fifteen-year-old mother, the first word people have used to describe me was strong. It’s definitely not an insult, and I don’t take it as such. However, I’m strong because life situations necessitated it. I am and have been strong to get through bullying. Sexual assault. Teen pregnancy. Single motherhood. Divorce. And much more.

So as I’ve overcome those challenges, I’ve longed to not have to be “strong”. And at times when I was called strong, I put on an appreciative smile that also hid a triggered response.

Winning the Strength Award

National Speakers Association Black National Speakers Association Greg Smith Strength Award Winner Summer Owens

In 2019 at Influence, the premier conference for professional speakers, held by the National Speakers Association, I was  humbled to be called strong.

In front an audience of professional speakers including Lenora Billing-Harris, Dr. Wilie Jolly, John Register, Dr. Shirley Clark, Denise Hamilton, FlyGirl and others who I respect and admire, I humbly and nervously accepted the Greg Smith Strength Award. Living with muscular dystrophy, Greg Smith was known as the Strength Coach who taught resilience and leadership through inner strength. Because they knew my resilience story, I was chosen by my peers of speakers impacting the world through their words to receive this special honor bearing his name.

Seeing Strength Differently

Although being strong or being recognized for being strong may be a reminder of the trauma or challenge of how you built that strength, it also inspires strength in others. It helps others face their challenges and see that they can be strong too.

As an award-winning resilience and leadership speaker, I am good with being called strong. I am humbled by being recognized.

But I am priviliged every time I have the opportunity to help high school and college students, single mothers, and others see strength differently. To see their challenges differently. And to inspire strength and resilience no matter the size of the obstacles.

I’m excited about a packed fall of building inner muscles.

And if you’re interested in having me speak to your group on resilience or leadership, just contact me.

Then get ready to say, “SO WHAT!”.