When was the last time you heard a story when what someone in that story did, just shocked you? Why would they do that? It makes no sense to you. It puzzles you. What’s the lesson for us? Let’s find out.
A while back I was leading a webinar with my coach, World Champion Speaker, Mark Brown. I had heard many of his stories and love hearing them every time he tells them. On this webinar though, there was a new story. Mark said that in 1994, after not placing in the World Championship of Public Speaking, he had to console his son. As he was doing so, a man walked up to him, and his name was David Brooks. David had won the contest back in 1990. After carefully saying hello during this tender father and son moment, David handed Mark his card and offered to help if he was open to coaching and mentoring.
The next day as soon as Mark landed, drove home, and put his bags down, he called David to ask for help. He said, “David, this is Mark Brown do you remember me?” David replied, “Mark, I met you yesterday.” It cracks me up every time I hear that. This started a year-long mentoring relationship that culminated in Mark’s victory winning in the 1995 World Championship contest. That part of the story I had heard before.
On the webinar, Mark continued and said he later found out that David Brooks had given that same offer to all eight speech contestant finalists. Not only that, but Mark was the only one who took David up on his offer. What? None of the other eight finalists made it back to the big stage either. Wow, seriously! When someone is where you want to be and offers advice, why not take them up on it? That seems crazy to me! I’m not sure why none of them did but I’d love to know.
Did they think they didn’t need the help? Did they think they made it once, so they could do it again on their own? Honestly, I can’t fathom that. Well, now that I had the experience of being coached by Mark and knowing how much I needed the help it is shocking. Whether it was ego or overconfidence, I’ll never know. The truth is, none of them made it back to that level again. What were they thinking?
There was a time, however, when I did think that way and believed I was good enough already. I thought if Mark could just give me a couple tiny tweaks, I would be amazing. Boy was I wrong!
Let me give you another example of my thinking problem. It was the day before the speech contest back in 2001. I was walking through the Marriott convention hotel in Anaheim, California. I noticed a sign that said, “Massage $79.” My very first thought was, $79? Who would pay that? Now, you have to understand where I was in my life back then. After my devastating business failure, I was forced to live at home with my parents to dig out of that debt and my college loans. I was thirty-four years old and scratching and scraping for dollars as I pursued my dream of becoming a professional speaker.
After taking a few more steps past the sign in the hallway, I stopped. Another thought popped into my head. I’m not sure where it came from. It may have been the years of constant listening to motivational recordings. Knowing I needed to work on my own limited thinking, I asked myself a question, “What would a Champion do?”
As I started processing this idea, it became clear. If I’m about to give the biggest speech of my life under the most pressure of my life, a champion would do whatever it takes. Relaxing my body and mind were critical to performance the next day. In my mind, the $79 just became an investment. The question helped me to think like a world-class speaker. The question helped me with an identity shift.
People think differently, there is no doubt. They think from their own perspective and the lessons they have learned. They think from the beliefs created from the causes and effects they have experienced.
Consider this: How do people think who have accomplished what you choose to accomplish? How do people think who you want to be more like? What do they worry about? What do they not worry about?
What do you take from this?
Darren, this past Monday Mark was the guest speaker at Suwanee Power Hour Toastmasters. He related the same story and left all of us with so many great “take-aways.” A couple really stuck with me. First, when given an opportunity say YES. Finally, on your journey have you been given the opportunity to say yes but you said no because of obstacles that you couldn’t overcome because of fear. What an incredible inspiration the two of you are to so many of us. We just have to believe in ourselves and our inner talents we all possess. Thank you.
Darren, sometimes people are just tired. Tired of performing and being expected to do so much that their health takes a toll and they have to back away. I don’t think those finalists were all that way, but it’s possible a couple of them could have been. You know the long hours and work it takes to become a champion. Sometimes people do the motions and then realize that it isn’t their dream after all. I have done this, just this year, and I have you to thank for helping with this process of searching things out and realizing where I can best serve others. Right now my health has taken a big hit, and I have to focus on getting better and not much else. You and Mark are great mentors, and will continue to be as long as I am a STU Member. Thanks again for your transparency, and everything else you do!