I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life (the second half, that is)… I would be a speaker! I had heard a cassette of a motivational speaker and thought “I could do that!”. It was 10 years ago and I had a cardboard box of tapes that had once belonged to my Dad that my brother described as “Dad’s legacy’ when my father passes on. They were dirty and came from boxed sets minus boxes and many cassettes but it was cool stuff. I listened to a metaphysical speaker (previously a English businessman) share ancient Chinese prosperity secrets, a southern grandpa who learned to be successful selling cookware, tips on how to be a multi-millionaire from the 1930’s and then came the best: Les Brown. Why, he was just telling stories! That was easy. I had the sudden realization… I would join the ranks of the speaking superstars!
Hmm… how to get started?
For two years I had facilitated innumerable groups on everything I couldn’t achieve (I took the “teach what you need to learn” approach) for $5 an hour. Titles included: “Heal Your Heartbreak!”, “Empower Yourself for Success!”, “Effortless Weight Loss!”, “How to be Irresistible to the Opposite Sex!” and the like. Now the question was how was I to leap from the Women’s Center’s flowered couches and candles to the Astrodome? After a few days pondering my prospects I concluded I was too old, had too many kids, too many bills… the Old Woman in the Shoe: a motivational speaker? What would I have to say? The more I thought about it the more disheartened I became. Finally, I flopped down on my bed in mid-day in utter despair. I could hear cars whizzing by. Where was everyone going in such a hurry…except me?
The phone rang. What if it was a coaching client? No way I could answer the phone now, but then I thought-who cares? I truly am unfit to coach, so I might as well face facts now and more on to a job more suited to a person in despair (I’d go back to painting and poetry-all the artists I knew were depressed). Second ring. Then I thought what if it was a GREAT OPPORTUNITY? You never know! Anyway, I had nothing to lose.
Third ring. Reconciled to my fate (either way) I decide to answer the phone. I say the peppiest hello I can muster. The woman on the other end asks me if I am Lisa Yakobi. (I want to say “I know who I was when I got up this morning but I think I must have changed several times since then”, to quote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but refrain). The woman then goes on to ask if I was a… speaker! Totally bewildered, I respond “Yes.” She then asks me if I can present a program for the Department of Women’s Services on surviving divorce (I had taught that one over and over again trying to convince myself it was possible). I agree. She asks my fee. “Fee? Five dollars?” I hesitate contemplating the sound of that sum. She s continues, “I’m so sorry it’s not much, but would $125 be OK?” and then asks if I’d be willing to do a radio interview that would air eleven times! “Yes, that would be fine and, yes, I do have a question. How did you hear about me?” “Oh, I saw you name in the Woman’s Center brochure.”
Now, what to speak about?
My presentation was called “No More Lonely Nights!”. I walked into an imposing hall and faced a sea of silent divorcées glaring at me with an “I dare you to make me smile” look. I understood. I knew what it was like to dream big and start small …and late. I knew what it was like to be well… negative. So that’s what I talked about. I admitted it all. And guess what? So did they! They shared their negative thinking! Then they exorcised their evil ex’s. The room swelled with hope as mousy bespectacled men revealed secret romantic yearnings and little old ladies proclaimed plans to put passion back in their lives! I had them hooting all night and wiping tears of laughter from there eyes!
We stopped hiding. We stopped pretending. And we traveled through the worlds of bad, mad and sad to… glad!
And I think I found the secret to being motivational:
Collapse on your bed…and let your dreams take flight!
No… that couldn’t be it.
I have it!
Have a good cry…and try to fly high!
No no no!
Here it is!
Tap into the power of negative thinking…and reach for the stars!