This is an AWESOME quote, and something I had to learn the hard way. I am way behind in terms of being a public speaker, due almost solely to the fact that I didn’t believe my own life story had enough value or lessons to it sooner. Sad but true. I have wanted to do this for a long time, even took steps in the past to get closer to achieving that. I attended a keynote speaker seminar almost twenty years ago, but never took the next step in the process.
Most of the speakers I have really loved to listen to are the stories of those overcoming tremendous odds to still come out on top. It is easy to be impressed and enamored with stories like this, as they hit at the very core of our being. I didn’t feel like I had this in my background. I don’t have a story of an abusive father or a neglectful mother, crushing poverty or being an immigrant that moves here with nothing. These stories amaze me, and I guess in some ways made me feel like I just didn’t meet the criteria to engage an audience with my life story.
Someone out there needs to hear your story, whatever it is. Your experiences, circumstances, goals and achievements are right in line with others’, and NOT telling your story is a disservice to the world.
I recently did a talk for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and, in my introduction, made the same error I mentioned above. Because I had walked away from my crash, I didn’t think that I had enough weight to my story. I wasn’t in a wheelchair or worse due to my crash, and I wasn’t there to tell an offender’s story of killing others. The first thing everyone on the panel gave me feedback on was that fact that my story was just that: my story. I was no more or no less important than anyone else’s. It was different, but no less valuable. People need to hear my story, because people would benefit from hearing my story. Period.
I am not currently a best selling author with a story that resonates with an audience of millions like David Goggins, but that is OK. As a sidebar, read Goggins’ book: Can’t Hurt Me, it is fantastic and the story of his life is absolutely incredible. I don’t need to make millions of dollars in this pursuit; I wouldn’t turn it down, but it is not the driver behind the desire. My real desire is to help as many people as I can. I firmly believe that if you become excellent at something, the money will follow.
What did finally push me to make this a reality was two things:
1. My head-on crash with a drunk driver (the fact that I walked away made me take stock of my life and feel obligated to take advantage of the second chance I have been granted)
2. My Professional career finally mirrors my athletic career (in my day job, I am the VP of Sales for my company, and have been responsible directly or indirectly for every single client we have. This list now includes companies like Liberty Mutual, General Mills, Goodyear Tire, American Red Cross and many more.)
In my mind, I needed the final push of these two things to make me feel like I belonged up on the stage in front of the audience. Part of the problem was, I defined “audience” in the wrong way. Almost every person who plays racquetball would take a quick glance at my resume and want to hear what I have to say. I didn’t feel like I had this same clout in other facets of my life, so I waited. I WAS WRONG. I had plenty to share with an audience a long time ago, I just didn’t see it that way. Now that I am knee deep in the process, things like this are becoming more and more clear. I don’t need to have a best selling book or a CEO mentoring program to have a viable platform for the right audience. I just need to say the right things to the right audience.
In retrospect, this has been about finding a level of comfort with myself and my story. Just like anything else, whether you think you can or think you cannot do something, you are correct. I wasn’t sure, and I hesitated. Finally I got past that hurdle, and now I feel like I am swimming with the current for a change. The momentum is building, and I can’t wait to see where this takes me. I am happy you are along for the ride.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.