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.