From Where I Sit – Laughing, Crying, Thinking

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an event at the Saville Centre in Edmonton. The investment was 80 dollars and one day of my life. But who can measure the benefits? I was exposed to wisdom, humour, and some of the most influential speakers in the U.S. Through simulcast technology, hundreds of locations around North America were all hearing the same speakers at the same time.

John Maxwell was the keynote speaker in a field of nine. Though I wasn’t familiar with him or his message prior to this, he is a force to be reckoned with. He’s a leadership expert, speaker, and author who’s sold over 12 million books. His talk centred on his most recent book Talent is Never Enough. While I haven’t yet read my copy, my notes captured the essence of his talk.

The talent we receive is a non-choice. It’s great, but it can only be increased a point or two. But in matters of choice, growth is unlimited. He cites Tonya Harding and Mike Tyson as a waste of talent. He notes that punctuality and putting in effort don’t require talent. He asks us to become ?talent plus? people: to choose to add the next dimension to whatever ability or giftedness we already have. Those extras are belief, passion, initiative, focus, preparation, practice, perseverance, courage, teachability, character, relationships, responsibility, and teamwork.

Oh, yes, John Maxwell’s wormed his way into my library. He wasn’t the only star speaking that day. I was familiar with Terry Bradshaw because he’s something of a regular on the Jay Leno show. He was perhaps the least-polished speaker but there’s no doubting his passion, energy, and sincerity. Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink, spoke about great leaders making great decisions instinctively by drawing on a lifetime of experience, demonstrating wisdom without understanding.

Who can forget hunky Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans? The movie dramatized the real-life story of Herman Boone, a black football coach hired over a white incumbent in 1971 Virginia. Over 30 years later Coach Boone speaks eloquently about the experience. ?The movie isn’t about football, It’s about finding the way to talk to and respect each other. I don’t care if you don’t like each other but you will respect each other. And today, if you don’t plan to make a difference, get your ass back to bed.? He encourages companies to apply the lessons of communication and respect in building their own teams–one vision, one objective, one heartbeat.

Frankly, I didn’t expect to cry that day but I did. Tim Sanders told the story of Lenny, who was visiting suicide chat rooms, planning his demise, and feeling profoundly alone and unhappy. Lenny chose to live and decided to pawn his gun. Why the change of heart? His boss demonstrated caring by simply asking about him, making conversation, cutting through the melancholy. Sanders asks us to give everyone two compliments; one personal, one performance-based. We can only guess what impact our words may have on another human being.

Laughing, crying, thinking . . . it doesn’t get better, from where I sit.

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