This is going to be a short post to my blog because I have more important things to do right now. My wife and business partner, Darlene, are at the 2016 edition of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers Association (CAPS) National Convention. Yes, speakers also have a convention. Bizarre, huh? Imagine the people who speak at conventions having to listen! Like I said..bizarre. But also, its our time to be inspired instead of the other way around. We get to hear from some of the best speakers on the planet, literally. Also bizarre is most of us practically live in hotels, always by ourselves and always being watched. Not this weekend! We have the entire hotel to ourselves so imagine what happens when the eyes of the world are closed and we can for three quick days, just be us! The clear majority of us are what I would describe as “life lovers” and I know that sounds judgmental of the minority but we also are not three hundred clones! In fact, that is exactly the point.
Everyone has a story…everyone! So do you. What is it? Happy? Sad? Uncomfortable? Life gives us all something to get over, and frankly, it’s all relative. I met a young man once, and I don’t remember his name, whose family of twelve was killed with machetes in Somalia. He watched from the jungle after he snuck out the back of his thatched hut. He walked for days by himself at ten years old when he found a nunnery who took him in, helped him recover, took him to a religious orphanage where he found a family who adopted him and brought him to Canada and gave him a new lease on life. He approached me after I had given a speech at his college wondering if I had tapes of my talk (this was obviously a while ago) and unfortunately, I didn’t. He told me his adopted father listened to all the greats like Zig Ziglar and he would sit on his lap and listen because his father constantly reminded him that what happened to him wasn’t fair but he survived for a reason and someday, he would find it. Then the young man told me something that gave me chills to this day.
He would sneak the tapes and a cassette player into his bedroom and listen to them at night with headphones because he would wake up hearing the screams of his family being murdered. It helped him get through the nights! This young man didn’t seem to have a bitter bone in his body. I wish I would have kept in touch with him. He would have made an awesome speaker. But not because of his tragic story…because of the heart he possessed to overcome it!
For three days every December, the CAPS community gathers somewhere in Canada, usually in the midst of the crappiest weather you could ever have in this country, and we do what people do at conventions. Hear keynote speeches, go to workshops, eat hotel or convention centre food, and for those who indulge stay up too late, drink too much and wake up asking, “Why?” We also give and get lots of hugs…lots of hugs. We playfully call ourselves “family”. Doesn’t seem very logical in a way. We all make our living from speaking, training or coaching. We are all competing for the gigs. We all think we are the best for the job and for 362 days in the rest of the year, we are solo acts. But the truth is, we have a much bigger thing in common than our profession. Our Hearts!
This may either make complete sense or sound pathetically self-serving, but the simple truth is, almost every speaker who is out there slogging away is there for you! We get the spotlight, we get the applause, we get the adulation, and yes we get the disbelievers too! But we do it for you. Sure we have egos, and differing opinions, and platitudes and yes, even mind stretching ideas. But they all come from a place of truth and honesty, at least they should. In fact, that is one of the other reasons we have a convention. For those who have learned to teach those who are learning that this should be an honourable profession. One of kindness, and caring and empathy. Or one of politically incorrect language, audacious if not sometimes offensive observations, and no-nonsense “truth and honesty” (Larry Winget, Randy Gage). No matter the style, the intention is the same. It is from the heart!