Touching Lives

Historic compass from the Filson Historical Society circa 1820s.

Historic compass from the Filson Historical Society circa 1820s.

“In a factory where mariner’s compasses are made,” wrote Dr. Orison Swett Marden, “the needles, before they are magnetized will lie in any position, wherever they are placed, but from the moment they have been touched by the mighty magnet and have been electrified, they are never again the same. They have taken on a mysterious power and are new creatures. Before they are magnetized, they do not answer the call of the North Star, the magnetic pole does not have any effect upon them, but the moment they have been magnetized they swing to the magnetic north, and are ever after loyal and true to their affinity.”

I must have said it a thousand times in my career as a professional speaker. “Today in this session, my goal is to touch one life in this audience and you will never, never be the same.”

One of my greatest thrills as a speaker was an afternoon at the exit of the theatre at F.E. Warren AFB at Casper, Wyoming standing there and shaking hands with a couple of hundred airmen as they left the theatre following my presentation and one after the other leaned forward and whispered into my ear, “I was the one.”

Please do not misunderstand this, I say it with humility because I do not believe that I touched that audience myself. I was just medium between a Higher Power and the members of the audience.

I suppose that it happened perhaps a dozen times in my career where my words were much wiser and my performance was far beyond my limited talents. Yes I had worked for years honing my skills as a speaker. I had toned my message endeavoring with each of thousands of speeches to make each one a bit better but that is now the answer to what occurred. Yes, I believe all of that practice and striving was a part of what happened but I also believe that sometimes for certain occasions a Higher Power just takes over and does the job for a presenter.

A few times, members of the audience quoted back to me words I’d never said. It was as if each person in the audience was hearing only the words they needed to hear at that moment in their lives.

Sometimes I later learned from members of the audience that this was a life changing moment for them, almost like that instance above when the needles we spoke of above were touched by that mighty magnet and were never the same again.

And so I made that my personal goal each time I stood up to speak. Some way, somehow to get my own big fat ego out of the way and call out for help with great expectations. And I do believe that in this world there are many, many speakers and teachers and great leaders and bosses who set out each day to touch lives.

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