I could be writing about several annoying items for my rant zone as there is no shortage of stupid lately but having just returned from our annual gathering of my (our) peers, otherwise known as the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) National Convention. This year’s affair was held in Winnipeg and all the bad “Winterpeg” jokes aside, the organizing committee did a superb job of hosting 250 professional speakers (and the like), spouses and vendors who can often be a tad picky about these events. People are usually usually surprised when they find out there is a speakers assosciation and I was before I joined in 2000. What has never surprised me is how much the association (CAPS) has meant to Darlene and I. Oddly, you don’t have to be a member of our association to be a speaker and personally, I feel very strongly that it should be just like a doctor or lawyer where membership in your peer group is not an option but I digress.
In this short blog I simply want to point out one item. I have been on the so-called “main stage” of CAPS and our member nation’s, known as the Global Speakers Federation (GSF) events in the past and it is an immense honour but what I have always appreciated is having the right sense of what that honour is really all about. The short answer is “not me”! Too many speakers, including me in the distant past, think the podium is their personal ego zone and although it does take confidence to be a public speaker, ego is not the same. I know as well that without the speaker, there would be no speech but I like to think that without the audience, there would be no event and thus, no opportunity for a speech. At this year’s convention, I was asked to be one of four professional speakers to sit on a panel about mental health. Linda Edgecombe, Stu Schultz, Big Daddy Tazz and yours truly were asked to do a brief story about our personal journey through a mental health hit then answer questions. I spoke on my bouts of severe depression after I was shut out of the United States in 1995 when new regulations were introduced as part of the NAFTA (I now have an E-1 Visa for your info) and less than a month later, my Mom died. We were all quite nervous talking about this, although Tazz does present this in his normal material, but not because if the podium but because of the subject. Most people have a story of mental health whether their own direct hallenges or one of a loved one or friend. As Big Daddy stresses, the biggest issue is the stigma.
Well, not only was the program a success but the response of our convention was overwhelmingly positive. It was like pulling back the curtain and revealing the wizard is not always perfect.
Thanks to all my Wizard colleagues for not only embracing the cause but for all of your supportive comments in the last three days.
Mental health is exactly that. As I crudely said in my segment, men grow moustaches in “Movember” to promote awareness of Prostate Cancer so if we can get over a doctor poking their gloved hands up our butts, why is it so difficult to bring mental health out of the closet. To erase the stigma, we must dump the ego and the ultimate winners are those who can summon the courage to get help. I get alot of credit for being so amazing but I have always been clear that I didn’t do it alone and without help. Time to do the same.
Thanks everyone for all your support.