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How A Simple Speaking Event Became A Milestone Moment

How A Simple Speaking Event Became A Milestone Moment

2010 was a monumental year of testing for me. By this time in my life, I made a commitment to God about my values, priorities, and mission. This resulted in many trials and tribulations test my commitment. At the time, I wrote down my focus. It included my personal mission, priorities, and motivation. 

My Focus In 2010

"My Mission is to help others realize and actualize their vision. My priorities are my faith in Jesus Christ first, my wife and family second, and my work third. My motivation is not fear of failure, but instead, is to be an instrument of service and love without fear, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)"
In the fall of 2010, an opportunity arose for me to live out my focus in a powerful way. The Art Institute of Atlanta invited me to give a speech to the students about internships. I agreed to take part in what would become a milestone moment in my life. While it can be difficult to capture surreal moments in our lives with words, this was my attempt.

Here is what I wrote in 2010

(Edited for grammar and concision)

So there I was at the Art Institute of Atlanta. What I had thought was going to be a low key speaking event on internships turned into an inspirational time for both me and my audience. I had been asked a few months prior to being a speaker in an event for the Art Institute of Atlanta. Well, it turns out the event was changed two weeks before to become more of a panel discussion on internship opportunities. No big deal. I still attend, have fun, and give a few tips.

I arrived at the event very confident and a little nervous. It wasn't nerve-wracking to me since the audience was only 30 people. Before the event started, a Mellow Mushroom delivery girl was dropping off the pizzas, and I interacted with her to learn more about what she was doing. Through the discussion, I very quickly uncovered her passion and what she was excited about. For her, it was traveling. She was working at Mellow Mushroom, but she wished she could be traveling. I asked her what was stopping her from traveling. In response, she realized she could travel and maybe even do it as a job when I mentioned the idea of a traveling farmer. While I have no way of knowing what she will do from that point forward, I know I was able to get her to think about what her passion is. I'm not sure why this conversation evolved that way, but it felt great and probably led to the next series of events.  

After the first 3 panelists finished, the host introduced me, and I began my speech on internships. Now I have had the opportunity to be an intern and hire interns so I was able to share some great insight. I began with my story in Arizona. I shared how I interned for my uncle, which led to me working on projects for the Discovery Channel, PBS, an Emmy award-winning production and the creation of my company. During my storytelling, I engaged the audience to ask questions. 
The questions engaged me in a way that made me think, this was not just a simple event. This was an event with actual people who's lives I might change or might change me.
As I was answering a question about starting a company, I talked about purpose and vision. I said to myself, this is it, this is my opportunity, not only to educate these students but to inspire them to realize their personal vision.
This is when I paused and looked out at the audience and began sharing my story in a way that directly connected with them. I spoke their language in a way that integrated my faith, my experience, my knowledge, and my wisdom all wrapped up in a box and tied with a bow. At this point, the questions began flowing, not only from the student audience but from the supporting staff. I engaged the other panelists, tying my conversation seamlessly from them into the answers and back to the students. This established an interest in an audience that had been somewhat checked out of the room from prior panelists.
At that moment, I connected with people I had no idea I could reach in a way I had no idea I could. Once the event was over, my fellow panelists, a pastor's son, complimented me. He asked if I had been around the church because I was able to speak in such a similar way that he had never seen it done in a secular audience. He was extremely impressed. I was complimented on my speaking by several others as a group of people came to me after the event, sharing their stories and asking their questions. One young man fought tears in telling me his story and how he had connected with what I shared.
I went into this event thinking I was going to help educate people. I left the event inspiring others to think about what their purpose and passion is, and to go after it. This is why I do what I do. This is my purpose.

The S.H.I.F.T. Moment

As I reflect on this moment in 2010, there are other insights that come to mind. When I transitioned from talking about internships to connecting with the audience, I had a powerful moment. I saw myself speaking to the audience as a spectator. This moment of giving a speech while internally reflecting on the moment was surreal and quite the multitasking feat. When I made the decision to share my story and approach it in a profound way, I accessed the purest form of myself. I was me, as I was truly created to be. Filled with joy and clarity, the bondage of life was gone, and it felt like I had been publicly sharing my story with groups my whole life. 

This was a SHIFT Moment. Moments like this will arrive when we are given a choice. Do we stay in our comfort zone or leave it for the unknown? So, what is the SHIFT Moment?
Spontaneous - An unexpected one.
Hard - They are difficult to act on.
Intimate - In these moments, we become vulnerable because of how personal they are.
Fast - We have little time to embrace it.
Transformation - When we commit, we change for the better.
Like in my story, these situations have the ability to transform a simple event into a milestone moment. 
My purpose is to embrace the life of Jesus Christ. The life he gave and the life he lived. At this moment, I embraced life as He poured it out. My vision is we are thriving together, and I believe my actions at this moment fostered this result.
With difficult obstacles in my way, this moment gave me what I needed to push forward.

Are You The Pizza Delivery Girl?

The pizza delivery girl in the story is the person who believes it is impossible to pursue what they love. In this scenario, we can feel trapped in our circumstances and unable to remove the obstacle in our path. 
Is this you? Are you stuck with no hope? If you are, here are six steps to help get unstuck.

1 - Share Our Dream

Talking about our dream is a great first step. It allows us the opportunity to refine it as we receive real-time feedback. When we share, it is best to share in a safe relationship. Our idea needs incubation, and ideas told in a hostile environment can lead to its death.

2 - Write Our Dream Down

Write down what we are passionate about. Forget about how we will make it happen. Just dream and dream big. Discover why we are passionate and what we hope to accomplish by living out our passion.

3 - Engage With Others Who Have Gone Before Us

If we want to start a business, talk to others who have. If we want to write a book, connect with an author and learn about their experiences. Find out what worked and what didn't. If we are to pursue something worthwhile, it will be difficult. Any obstacles we can bypass before we start makes the journey easier.

4 - Ideate On How To Accomplish Our Dream

By now, we have identified what our dream is as well as obstacles that may prevent our success. Now is the time to list out our ideas on how we could make our dream a reality. Let's ask our friends, family and even ask on-line for ideas. We will likely hear about ways we can accomplish our goal we never even thought about. Filter the ideas down into the best ideas.

5 - Take Baby Steps Towards Our Dreams

Let's identify 5-10 baby steps to begin testing our best ideas. These can be actions we take in the short term to move forward. Let's discover a way to test our goal on a small scale to discover if it is truly what we want. For example, if we want to travel abroad, let's travel around our city and then statewide. This small taste of traveling will help us to explore if we actually like the reality of the idea. It will also slowly build motivation to pursue it on a larger scale.

6 - Embrace The Opportunity To Make It Real

When we are taking baby steps and testing our idea on a smaller scale, there will likely be opportunities to bring it to life and make our dream real. These can be scary and require a leap of faith, so let's prepare to embrace the opportunity when it comes. This could be our next SHIFT Moment.
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Thank you, Samuel Rasmussen, for helping make this blog post better.
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