Something Significant: David Williams of Make-A-Wish

Something Significant: David Williams | - image via Make-A-Wish

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer
is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
(Theodore Roosevelt)

We are honored and excited to share our second Something Significant interview with David Williams, the President & CEO of Make-A-Wish America. David has dedicated his life to making the world a happier place through his leadership in the non-profit sector. At Happy Living we believe compassion is having a deep awareness and desire to help those in need… and David Williams is an excellent role model for living this way.

You have probably heard of Make-A-Wish. It is an amazing and heart-felt organization that grants the wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. To learn more and get involved, visit their website. We encourage you to consider making a donation or connecting with your local Make-A-Wish chapter.

Read to the end of the interview for a chance to win one copy of a new book from Make-A-Wish, Wish Granted. The book shares stories from America’s best-loved athletes. Click here to watch the book trailer. It is sure to inspire you!

Something Significant: David Williams | - image via Make-A-Wish

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got where you are today?

I have been the President of Make-A-Wish America for the past ten years. Prior to that, I was COO of Habitat for Humanity International for eleven years and prior to that, Executive Director of The Houston Food Bank for eleven years.

I was very fortunate to begin my career in the non-profit sector at an early age and have loved each of my jobs and the organizations in which I have worked. I have also been fortunate to be around amazing leaders and donors who have selflessly given their time, talents, and resources to each of these organizations.

How has significance played a role in your journey?

Each of these organizations are significant because they help so many people whether they need food, housing, or a break from a life threatening medical condition. To be a small part of an effort that can change the lives of entire families is a real privilege. It is also a blessing to work at something in which you enjoy and find meaning and purpose.

Something Significant: David Williams | - image via Make-A-Wish

Was there a specific moment or situation when you became aware of those things that are most significant to you?

When I was a freshman in college, I made a conscious decision to be a follower of Jesus. Until then, I went to church but it was more of an obligation than a purposeful decision. From that point on, I hoped and prayed that while I was on earth for this short period of time, that I could be involved in activities that had significance for those who were not as fortunate as I was.

Have you faced any obstacles in your pursuit of significance? How did you overcome them?

While I have loved the organizations I have worked with over the years, the jobs have never been easy. Sometimes people think that working for a charitable organization is all peaches and cream. It isn’t. Many of the issues we have are the same as any other organization. The difference is that at the end of the day, the effort is about more than simply helping a company make a profit.

Would it be accurate to say that the mission of the non-profits, and your commitment to helping others, is what helps you move forward during those challenges?

Absolutely. I don’t think I would have the same drive and passion if it were just about making more money. Knowing that my efforts are part of a much bigger enterprise that brings hope, strength, and joy to thousands of families who are in a tough spot is very motivating to me. And then having the opportunity to meet and spend time with so many of them is a privilege and inspiration.

Something Significant: David Williams | - image via Make-A-Wish

Is there a specific lesson you have learned, or experience you have gone through, that has helped to shape the person you are today?

I have learned that it is better for all parties to deal with conflict sooner rather than later, and directly rather than in vague terms. In the non-profit world, there is a tendency to not want to hurt other people’s feelings and to avoid conflict at all costs. Conflict is healthy if it is handled appropriately and with respect.

What is one hope you have for the next 10 years?

I hope I am still engaged in some type of good work that is helping people and I hope I am able to make a difference within that organization. I also hope I’m able to play with some grandchildren someday soon!

Something Significant: David Williams | - image via Make-A-Wish

Are there any books or resources you would like to recommend to our readers?

I just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, which was very good. I typically read a lot of biographies, which I think are especially enlightening for leaders to see how people in the past have successfully and unsuccessfully led their nations, companies, families etc. I am currently reading The Bully Pulpit about Theodore Roosevelt by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I also loved the biography about Harry Truman by David McCullough (titled Truman) and read a biography about Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas (titled Bonhoeffer). Talk about leaders who were principled men and did not shy about dealing with conflict!

Are you inspired? Enter to win our giveaway!

We are giving away a copy of Wish Granted, by Make-A-Wish with Don Yaeger. The book gives a rare glimpse into the private lives of your favorite athletes and what gives them a deeper satisfaction than any trophy or championship ring. Click here to watch the book trailer.

ONE winner will be picked at random.
Entries to the giveaway will close on Friday, August 29th at 11:00 PM EST.
We will announce the winner in our blog post on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014.
One entry per person. US Residents only.

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us one thing that is significant to you!

Images are courtesy David Williams and Make-A-Wish

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