Whenever you and I present live or online, we never really know if we planted seeds in our audience’s mind. Do you ever wonder if you actually made a difference? Yes, they loved your presentation, but did anything change because of what you said and how you said it?
We get the feedback sheets, and hey, we get 8s, 9s, and 10s and feel good about ourselves. Look, that is nice. We delivered, but did we help them? Will they do something different because they heard our presentation? How do we really know?
It’s a hard truth to accept, but we don’t know. We’d love to think we did. If 100 people were listening, did we deeply impact 10, 20, or more? There is no algorithm for that. We work hard to sow the seeds of our experience and wrap it in encouragement to benefit our audience. When we present, we are planting seeds. It is what our audience does with them that matters. Are the seeds well-planted? Does the audience go home and grow those seeds or just put their notes on a pile of other notes that only collect dust? It’s sad to think about it.
There is a parable in The Bible that is about sowing. The Sower analogy talks about scattering seeds. No matter your belief, is it relevant for presenters?
4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew, and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.
Some of your seeds do take root and multiply. It would be cool if we could see all of them grow. We don’t get to see that. We tweak our slides and start to prepare for our next audience. Meanwhile, we go back to our regular work, cross things off our “to do” list, and check email.
It’s now just another workday between presentations. Then, it happens! As we skim through our emails looking for the important ones, we see it! An unexpected email from one of your clients. You read it, and it stops you in your tracks. What? Wow! Really? Sweet! You then grin from ear to ear, take a deep breath, and realize what you do matters. You do make a difference. Not only did you plant a great seed, but the person who heard you nurtured that seed and watered it.
It happened to me this week. I had to write about it to remind you that what you do matters. If your intention is pure and you work hard to improve your skills continually, you are sowing seeds that will grow. The audience will sense your intention, whether you are fully committed to the program, or “mail-in” your delivery and just go through the motions. They can tell.
You may never hear about 99 percent of them, so cherish the few. I now refer to these as “Yoda moments.” Yoda, Luke Skywalker’s mentor, was critical to his transformation into a Jedi. He witnessed Luke’s struggle. We don’t always get to see the struggle. It’s so cool when the people we help let us know the impact we have had on them. Because of Yoda, Luke was able to blow up the Death Star against all odds.
Misako Yoke is one of our students at Stage Time University. She has an infectious energy, and I see her working hard and always shows up. I did get to witness some of her struggles, so when she asked me to write the forward to her book, I couldn’t say, “No.” Understand that I get asked often to review books and write forwards, and even though it is an honor, I usually politely decline. Not this time! I could not. She earned my help. She had been nurturing and watering the seeds more than most.
If you have ever taken one of our Master Workshops or attended Game Changers, you know we have attendees write down your Keepers and Action Items. We intend to get people to leave with a plan to make the progress they desire. Here is what I loved the most and made my “Yoda Moment.”
Misako mailed me a letter that had a screenshot on it. The pic was of her Action Items from one of our events back in 2018! On her list of Action Items, she had written down, “Write a book & get published.” Another cool bit of knowledge that did not dawn on me was she wrote this book in her second language. Wow. OK, if you know me, I can be a sap at times. When I saw her letter and the image, I got choked up.
In her book: Take Heart, You’re Stronger Than You Think, she is transparent about her journey from misogyny to racism, divorce to near-death trauma. Misako has been through it all! I’m not writing this to sell you on her book. I’m writing to sell you on the idea of working harder at what you do. I’m writing to remind you that every time you present, there is a Misako in your audience who will nurture the seeds you sow. We need to be great at sowing. There are many Death Stars that need to be figuratively blown up. As Mark Brown says, “Your life tells a story, and someone needs to hear it.” I can’t tell your story! Only you can tell it, and only you can plant the seeds of your experience.
Each week I get inspired thoughts of what to write about. I never really know precisely how that article will land on my subscribers. I can usually tell how well an article does by the number of comments. Last week, I only got one comment from a woman named Cheryl, who posted:
Yasss! A 100 times yasss! I’ve always been a silent reader of your blog, Darren, but this post compelled me to leave a comment. To be jealous of the struggle and not the result motivates me to not give up on my career. I have been told I was average ever since I left high school. The past ten years, I struggled with low self-esteem, financial worries, and unpleasant co-workers. But I won’t give up. Each struggle gets me closer to my goals. When I choose “all in,” I must also be conscious of the sacrifices it’ll take to get what I want. Thank you, Darren, for your motivating post.
She says she has been a silent reader of my articles. You, too, will have many silent attendees. To be transparent, I kinda need these. I strive for them. Let comments like these keep you posting with purpose. Collect them to keep you going on bad days when you doubt yourself. Remember, we all do at times. It’s normal. Keep going!
Whenever you have a Yoda moment, cherish it. Let it remind you what you do does matter while inspiring you to continue on your path. Don’t take any audience live or online for granted. If you haven’t already, create a folder or file to collect your Yoda moments. When you get them, remember there are 99 more that you are not aware of. Cherish every one you do get!
Please post a story of one of your favorite “Yoda Moments.” Let’s keep each other inspired.
What do you take from this?