Stage Time: A Great Connection is Just Like Skiing! | Darren LaCroix

Stage Time: A Great Connection is Just Like Skiing!

By Darren LaCroix | Master Public Speaking


When was the last time you felt bliss?

I’m talking just perfect moments of Nirvana – priceless moments. Too bad they don’t last longer, yet perhaps they aren’t meant to.

Over New Year’s weekend, I went skiing with my brother David and his fiancé in Vail, Colorado, known for some of the United States’ best skiing. Being from New England, I grew up knowing icy conditions and bitter cold. While riding the lift, my ski instructor mentioned that there are only a few days of bliss when it comes to New England skiing, where he’d spent a great deal of time. This, as opposed to Vail, where most days are perfect.

vail-coloradoI’m not an avid skier, yet I do enjoy the occasional adventure. As I was ker-plunking along in my rented ski boots I thought, “Wow, this is crazy!” I had to buy new ski clothes, buy a plane ticket, rent a car, drive for two hours, get fitted for and rent equipment. There were also the long lines, the investment in lift tickets, and David had strongly ‘recommended’ that I take a refresher ski class on the first day. Really? I’m only here for a couple of days and certainly didn’t want to waste one of them in ski school.

ski-instructorDavid kept telling me, “You have to pay your tuition to the mountain.” Begrudgingly, I took his suggestion and invested a day with an encouraging instructor that could see my challenges and helped me correct a few bad habits. (pic with instructor) Halfway through a day of awkwardness, things started to click. I started gaining confidence and it started becoming easier – and a lot more fun. The more instruction and ‘tuition’ paid to the mountain through experience, the more joy I started to feel.

On the second day, I skied with David. Halfway through one of the runs, we got separated and I found myself going down a trail – alone. It was so incredibly peaceful and the scenery was amazing. There were amazing moments of bliss. It was magical. Now, all that investment in time, travel, and tuition was well worth it for moments of bliss.

smiley-darrenWhat does that have to do with you? Everything. You on stage, totally connected to your audience, brings moments of bliss. I remember when my comedy mentor, Dave Fitzgerald, was battling cancer and suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy. He told me, “Darren, the only time I don’t feel pain is when I’m on stage making people laugh.” Wow!

As a presenter, you crave that magical connection. People will tell me they want to someday speak as well as I speak. If that’s you, just do what I did. I look back on all my painful moments on stage and can see how I was, indeed, paying tuition. All of the coaching that I got from Mark Brown and Patricia Fripp was paying tuition. Moments of bliss I now enjoy weren’t from some magic pill or secret technique; they are the return on my investments.

A woman I know keeps telling me she’s going to be “the female Tony Robbins.” She has a great story and I believe she can help people with her story. But when I suggest that she start telling her story now, I get excuses. If you want big audiences and moments of bliss, pay tuition by seeking instruction and applying it through experience. She’s unwilling to pay.

We all want moments of bliss, but many aren’t willing to pay tuition. Are you that committed? I’m still paying because I know there’s more to learn. Three-time International speech finalist Rich Breiner reminded me at Lady & the Champs that National Speakers Association founder and fellow World Champion Cavett Robert said, “School is never out for the pro.”

It’s listening to instruction and applying those ideas that pay your tuition and bring you moments of bliss.

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