Just in case you missed my first #IDEAWorld update post, The People, you can find it here.
You know that a speaker made an impression when they become the standard by which all other speakers are judged. It is a rare occurrence, and when it happens, you want to hold on to the experience, relive it if possible, so that you can draw out every bit of inspiration and knowledge.
Bo Eason was one of the best, if not the best, speakers I have ever seen. His keynote speech was simple, yet powerful: Bo telling his story. He is never still as he shares his childhood hopes and dreams of becoming an NFL safety, no, not just a safety, the best NFL safety. He moves constantly, striding, jumping, even running on stage, as he tells the story of his plan for achieving his goals, the obstacles he had to overcome, and finally his success. He uses his body, his voice, and his connection with his audience to motivate them to learn to tell their own story. He was mesmerizing.
I was so inspired by Bo’s speech that I decided to go to his session and learn how to tell my own story. Bo says that the information age is over, and for the rest of our lives (and probably our children’s lives too), the power and the influence will belong to the Storyteller. We are all striving to connect with each other, and the ones who can tell their story, can share themselves, will be the leaders. He encouraged us to learn how to move with power and confidence, and to connect with our audience, one person at a time.
This was a workshop, so, after a story or two, Bo had us spend some time writing our own story. He said that our story should be from a time when we were challenged, embarrassed, or hurt so deeply that it changed our lives and helped to make us the person we are today. These things frequently happen when we’re young, between nine and 12 years old, and leave a lasting impression.
As I wrote out my story, I had a revelation. When I write my blog, I tell you all a lot. You know about my dogs, and my grandsons. I shared my experience with my excisional biopsy, my first colonoscopy, and exercise induced asthma. You know my feelings on animal rights and being vegan, and I have even talked about my husband and his health (a little anyway, that’s really his story to tell). But have I really been generous (as Bo would put it) with my story? Or have I been a little stingy?
I think I tend to hold back a little on expressing my feelings. Not just in my writing either, though that’s what counts here. I have this little reserved part of me that holds back, keeps my emotions in check, and I have a difficult time opening up and sharing myself. After hearing Bo speak, and starting to learn how to tell my story, I realize that I want to open up more. It is something that I intend to work on. I think it will not only improve my writing and my blog, it will make me a better wife, leader, and maybe even a better person.
Anyway, after spending several minutes writing out our stories, Bo had us find a partner and take turns telling each other our story. Fortunately, I was with Tiffany, and it was a little easier speaking to someone I already knew, if only for a few hours. But then Bo tricked us and had us tell our story two more times, to two different people, each time paring it down a little to be as concise as possible. One thing I learned is that while I can write my story pretty well, actually telling it, out loud, will take some practice.
As you can see, Bo Eason has had quite an effect on me. After seeing him speak, I told Alan all about it, both because I was excited and because Alan is a huge San Francisco 49er fan (Bo finished his career with the 49ers). Of course, I told my husband all about Bo’s Jerry Rice story, both because Alan’s a fan and because the story is such a demonstration of the power of commitment, dedication and hard work. Then, as I was preparing to write this, I googled Bo to gather some information, and found an old YouTube video where Bo was telling the story. Not only did I get Alan to watch it with me, we both sat through the entire 40 minute video, once again entranced listening to Bo Eason.
I’ll leave you with one tip from Bo that will help you write your own story. The more personal you make it, the more universal it becomes. Don’t be afraid to dig out that most intimate story, even if it is embarrassing, or humiliating, or revealing, because when you share that story, your audience will relate to it. Your story is the most powerful thing that you have.
I am working on my story, and I will share it when I’m ready. It is part of my commitment to becoming a more generous person.
Are you a storyteller? Have you ever seen or listened to a speaker who changed your life?
Stayed tuned this week for more recaps from IDEA: The (Other) Sessions, The Expo, and The Food.