Chal­lenge and oppor­tu­ni­ty

A few weeks ago I received a last minute invi­ta­tion to speak at a Cincin­nati Cham­ber CEO round table.  Because I speak fre­quent­ly, I already had a one hour Seeds of Wealth pre­sen­ta­tion specif­i­cal­ly designed for CEO’s, so I eager­ly said ‘yes’. 

With help from my ded­i­cat­ed and tal­ent­ed staff, I was ful­ly pre­pared with hand­outs by the next morn­ing.  The talk went well and I left with pos­i­tive feed­back forms in hand, know­ing I had pro­vid­ed a new per­spec­tive on accu­mu­lat­ing and enjoy­ing wealth and pros­per­i­ty.

If I were to rate that day in my life as a busi­ness own­er and CEO, I would give it a 10+ on a scale of 1 to 10. 

I grew up in a small town in the mid­dle of Geor­gia.  I was embar­rass­ing­ly shy and did my very best to avoid new peo­ple or sit­u­a­tions where I was asked to “per­form” or to be “on stage” in any way.   I man­aged to nav­i­gate my way through high school and col­lege with­out tak­ing any speech or dra­ma class­es.  In fact, a sell­ing point for me when con­sid­er­ing a busi­ness degree was that speech class was not a require­ment!

All was going well with my avoid­ance of pub­lic speak­ing, when along comes Clint Lane, the first boss of my pro­fes­sion­al career. Clint was Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the North­east Geor­gia Area Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and I was the agency’s Con­troller.   At the time, we were fund­ed with over twen­ty grant sources.  One of my ini­tial duties was to imple­ment a new fed­er­al cost allo­ca­tion method­ol­o­gy with effi­cien­cy.  It went well, and before long, our sys­tem was con­sid­ered a mod­el for the State of Geor­gia. 

Clint decid­ed this was news­wor­thy.  First he called the local paper in my home­town and had them write an arti­cle about me.  I got through that, as all I had to do was answer ques­tions and have my pic­ture tak­en.  But then the most life chang­ing event of my career and at the time my worst night­mare hap­pened.  Clint decid­ed I was to present my sys­tem to the statewide orga­ni­za­tion of Exec­u­tive Direc­tors in Atlanta at their annu­al meet­ing!

I protest­ed pro­fuse­ly but to no avail.  He insist­ed, and to make sure I was on track, he issued a dead­line for the com­ple­tion of my speech prepa­ra­tion.  With dread, I took my speech to his office at the appoint­ed time.  He read it over, gave me feed­back, and sent me on my way with three days until launch of my new speech.  After three sleep­less nights and hours of use­less wor­ry­ing and prac­tice, I stood before the Exec­u­tive Direc­tors and gave my speech.   My voice cracked, my knees shook and I had to make an emer­gency trip to the restroom as soon as it was over.   That was over thir­ty years ago and my body can still recall the ter­ror as I stood before the group. 

Clint Lane knew that becom­ing a great pub­lic speak­er was a tal­ent that would serve me well through­out my pro­fes­sion­al career and that chal­leng­ing me to stretch and grow would even­tu­al­ly pro­vide an incred­i­ble sense of accom­plish­ment!  What was a sur­prise to us both is that I fell in love with pub­lic speak­ing!

Life gives us dai­ly chal­lenges.  With each one, we have the choice of walk­ing away and stay­ing stuck in our present capacity…or we can take the leap and turn the chal­lenge into an oppor­tu­ni­ty.

What choice are you mak­ing?  The world awaits your hid­den tal­ents.  Choose oppor­tu­ni­ty and you will nev­er look back with regret.