This is Ron with your motivational message,
I had the opportunity to speak to two different schools totaling over 2,000 middle school students. Just the very thought of keeping the attention of so many students for 40 minutes made my knees as weak as jello. Thank God I’m sitting in a wheelchair or I might have passed out.
I try to keep myself incognito before my speech begins, it’s like a moment of suspense, shock therapy I call it. I don’t want them to see what’s about to approach the microphone until I’m introduced as the motivational speaker. It’s kind of ironic don’t you think? Being a motivational speaker when you can’t move. You can hear a pin drop; the crowd is silenced from sheer curiosity as they see me approaching the microphone with my chin-controlled wheelchair.
You can hear their minds “Oh Gosh, what’s his deal,” “Hey this is messed up”. But that’s the golden moment for me to grab their attention and not let go for 40 minutes.
As most of you know, I am a storyteller and I’ve learned to touch areas that are sensitive to young people today. They’re full of thoughts of suicide, lack of self-esteem, loneliness, bitterness, the list goes on. I don’t believe it’s because I’m a “great speaker” I think it’s a gift, something magical happens when these kids come to the realization very quickly that I didn’t walk on the stage and I will not walk off.
This guy’s story they say is “real” and we live out my life with its struggles and triumphs for 40 minutes. Each story affects kids differently and as they identify with my challenges–the impact is what they glean from.
I’m truly grateful that relatively all of my audiences feel something, that I am able to help them make a personal connection in their own life—a spark of hope, a nugget of inspiration, a dose of motivation or good entertainment for the moment.
At the close of my speech, I present a challenge, to change one thing — your attitude. I remind them that you are the master of only one thing in your life.
You are the master of your attitude.
May your hearts be filled with gratitude. Life is what you make it.
Some kids came to my table where I hang out afterward to talk or to sign books or art. But what really touches my heart, is when a student approaches my chair, enters my bubble and asks me if they can give me a hug. Many times, with their embrace of my shoulders and wheelchair, they thank me for changing their lives. My hope is that sticks in their mind and they will remember it forever.
Speaking about forever,
The physical education teacher helped me set up the microphone and we got to talking.
“Mr. Heagy,” he said, “This is the third time I’ve heard you speak. The first time I heard you speak, I was 15 years old at a youth group in Salem, Oregon. You spoke about life being an attitude and it stuck.”
“As a matter of fact, because of your inspiration, I finished up high school, got my college degree, and as a teacher I just sat here witnessing the very same thing that happened to me, happen again for these kids. You talk about never giving up, I just want to thank you for not giving up your speaking.
I actually choked up a bit, I said, “Well how old are you now, twenty…five?” “No close,” he replied, “I’m 35 years old.” I said, “Oh hush, hush, don’t say that too loud! I’m trying to fake my age!” He reminded me it’s not my age it’s the message, it’s reality, it’s life. Boy did he make my day!
Maybe you’re wondering if what you’re doing is going to pay off? Does anybody really care? Does anybody see what you do? Well, you know what I’m about to say….
Keep on and never give up!
“Well I just work a desk job” or “I’m behind the scenes,” that’s maybe true but someone somewhere is sees your effort and hard work. Your very life and the way you respond to it can change another person’s heart. And that my friend, will change the world.
To your inspirations,