Not too many people have ascended Mt. Everest with 137 people in tow, but that guy on the Discovery channel last week has. He’ll be in demand as a motivational speaker for the rest of his life. Not too many people have flown with wings and a jet pack attached to their bodies to cross the English channel. Bam. Fifteen minutes of fame.
It doesn’t take losing a limb, rocket science or Wiley Coyote like tendencies. There is a demand for a speaker who has a tale of their own, a story which is somehow fascinating and stands apart from everyday life. If we research a new effect of a combination of drugs and re-grow limbs, we’ll stand out. If we chair the committee to design a bigger oil-sucking water cleaner, we’ll get some attention. If we spend a career as a marine biologist fascinated with squid, we’ll stand out. But let me ask – how much do you really relate to those speakers? Are you about to close a multi-billion dollar deal on your home-grown business? Are you recovering from a plane crash? Did you manage to outlive the statute of limitations on your Swiss bank heist, and you are feeling remorseful now? Lucky you, the talk shows and speakers bureaus are looking for you.
But what about the rest of the eager speaking talent, the skilled but “regular” human populace? What if we lose someone and live through it? Doesn’t everyone? What if we’ve loved and lost? Doesn’t everybody? How interesting can that be? Who wants to hear another story about the pain of life? No one? Oh, contraire. The most interesting stories lie in the smallest and most common details of human connection.
Some of the most valued and most memorable motivational speakers simply instill a new vision of an everyday experience. They give us their story, told through their unique perspective, often rising above pain. A divorced mother steps forward to articulate of the unspeakable pain and loss of her daughter to a life of drugs and prisons. A father of six speaks of how proud he has become of his children as they have formed a team to help the disadvantaged. A child dying of cancer stands before an audience to speak of the endless joy in his heart for the many gifts of care and love and comfort he has received to ease his pain. In their stories are the moments of human realizations and everyday emotional triumphs. From them, we are encouraged to see beyond our day by day challenge, to lighten the load of our own lives, to see through the eyes of optimism. Often, all it takes is seeing life a little differently to find lessons to share. With a little self-examination we can find life’s details which just beg to be told. A child points out the ridiculousness of our sensitivities. The suddenness of death reminds us of the joys of living. A co-worker reminds us that our values should be with our families. Victims of natural events often have amazing stories of loss and triumph. Lonely vigils are kept in remote places, where great thoughts can emerge. A spouse encourages a hobby which brings that most elusive of treasures, “quality time”.
For the aspiring speaker, impassioned by the desire to make their skills of value, the search for valuable material is no further away than the experience of the heart. Loss and tragedy find us all. So does joy and enthusiasm. What did we learn? How do we overcome? What will come next? In what small way did we improve ourselves in the midst of change, turmoil, or conflict or embarrassment? To find valuable speeches within you, perhaps a simple question can assist… How do you value your moments?