I have had the wonderful opportunity to spend an increasing amount of time speaking professionally. If you would have told me I’d be doing this 15 years ago, I probably would have died right on the spot. I was an insanely introverted kid, paralyzed by just the thought of a new situation. I believe it was Jerry Seinfeld who observed that, at a funeral, most people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.
Well, it’s been by the grace and strength of God that I’ve been able to overcome some of my insecurities to experience a bunch exciting and tremendously fulfilling things. Like professional speaking. I love being able to connect with an audience by entertaining them, encouraging them, and even inspiring them all at the same time.
But it hasn’t taken long for me to run into the heartbreaking reality that I’m sure all motivational speakers encounter: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
Not that I think of my audiences as horses, mind you.
A lot of what I speak about deals with success principles that I have learned in the process of pursuing my dream, complete with all of the pitfalls and setbacks. Most of the time, the things I say really hit home with the audience. They get it. Some even come up to me afterwards to share how excited they are to make a few changes. But sadly, more times than not, no real change ever takes place, no matter how excited the person once was. I have finally realized: I can inspire the daylights out of somebody, but I can’t make them change. It’s physically imossible. Only they can do that.
My biggest adversary, of course, is the Comfort Zone. It’s hard to compete with the Comfort Zone, because he has things arranged so warm and inviting and…comfortable. As soon as a person even considers making a few changes in the hopes of achieving a more fulfilled and purpose-driven life, the Comfort Zone throws down his newspaper, jumps up out of his chair, and spews a laundry list of reasons why this simple idea of change is the worst idea since New Coke (not to mention it carries with it the possibility of bringing down civilization as we know it). The Comfort Zone details all of the reasons why it would better for the person to just stay put. In most cases, that’s exactly what the person chooses to do.
It makes me sad to think of what things people are missing out on, and that there’s not much I can do to combat that. But I can certainly understand it. My own parents warned me my entire childhood of how many things I was missing out on because I was afraid to abandon Mr. Comfort Zone and try new things. What they said always made sense and I knew it was all true, but back then, I wasn’t ready. And when I finally was, God placed the people in my life who shared with me the tools I needed to succeed.
So as I continue doing more of this speaking thing, I am resolved to just keep sharing my story and the lessons I’ve learned. I’m content to believe that maybe I’ll reach a few of the thousands I speak to; the ones who are ready to really HEAR what I’m saying. The ones who are finally ready to make the change. The ones who only need the tools.
Need some tools?