“The moment you take Responsibility for everything in your life, is the moment you can change Anything in your life.”
- Hal Elrod
As a speaker, I am honored each year to share my Mind of a Champion message with wide variety of audiences. Groups range from elementary school children all the way to corporate leaders.
While it does take a diverse set of skills and strategies to be able to communicate with, and hold the attention of audiences of such a wide range, I believe that we are “all big kids anyway” and as a result the essence of my message if basically the same, regardless of the audiences to whom I am speaking. That message is:
There is a champion inside of you and when access it and take full accountability for your life, you can achieve anything you put your heart and mind to.
While I enjoy speaking to all assemblies of people, the one group that is not only the most challenging but also the most rewarding for me to share my message with are teenagers. This age group can be one of the most challenging to address and if I do not gain connection within the first few minutes of my talk, I’m “done”.
However, when I am successful in making that connection and my message has landed, I know that I have done my part in making positive impact with our society’s future leaders.
This range of students is also vast. Some are emerging leaders in their respective schools and others are kids who made dis-empowering decisions and are now looking to get their lives back on track.
A a few years ago, I was honored to do a high school commencement speech for a group of young men graduating from one of the highest security correctional facilities in Colorado.
Admittedly, these young men had made some very poor choices in their life to get them to where they were. In fact, even though all of them were graduating high school, most of them would continue staying in the facility months afterwards to complete their sentences before re-integrating back into society.
This re-integration, for most of them, is what they feared most. Many would go back to the same environments with family, friends and communities that fostered their path in making the destructive decisions they made. The question of whether or not they could transcend this environment was palpable.
As a result, my message to them was simple.
They were being given a second chance to powerfully express their gifts and talents in the world, and become leaders in their own right – if they chose.
The same is true for us. While our gifts and talents are unique to us, if we are to achieve our dreams, it also takes a focused effort on the “3 Abilities” that I believe each must enact:
These young men had to ask themselves, “When I leave this place go back to wherever home is, am I willing to stand for something greater than myself? Am I willing to BE the person I was truly designed to be?
Each day, we have the same opportunity.
The question is, do we proactively work to show up BEing as our most empowered selves, or do we acquiesce to the norms of the crowd? Either way, the choice is ours.
Beyond our common definition, this word can also be expressed as “response-ability”, or our ability to respond powerfully, regardless of the situation or challenge we find ourselves in. We may not be able to control situations (where you were born, how you grew up, etc.), but you can always control how you respond to them.
Our past does NOT define us! The future is ours to create and much of our success is predicated on how we respond to the most challenging times now as it sets the trajectory for our future endeavors. But the choice is ours how we will respond.
Whether it was Mahatma Ghandi liberating the people of India from the oppression of British rule; or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leading the movement that began the transformation of civil rights in the United States; or Nelson Mandela leading the cause to eliminate Apartheid in South Africa, each of these leaders had a common strength; creating and inspiring others in the possibility for something greater, despite the realities and cultural mindsets that stood before them.
Interestingly enough, it was not what they were “against” that fueled their messages, but rather it was what they were “for” that led their movements (e.g. freedom, equality and transformation). By creating a positive vision and movement to a future of possibility, the established norms, rules and laws soon fell as they could not withstand the weight of the new and empowered vision.
So, this week, I challenge all of us to tap into our “3 Abilities”. Where do we have an opportunity to rise above our challenges and fears to create the difference we were meant to share?
Because regardless of the situation we find ourselves in, the choice is ours.
Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching
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