The Power Of Words…
I have not shared this story very often, though it was about a time when I experienced one of the most profound impacts of my life. And as strange as that may sound, I was merely an observer to the events that played out in front of me.
It took place over 20 years ago, 1993 to be precise, on the island of Maui in Hawaii.
You see, I was sitting amongst thousands of people who had traveled from all over the world to attend a week long transformational event led by Tony Robbins.
I cannot remember the exact day – as if you have ever been to one of Tony’s events, days seem to merge into each other, but it was during a discussion about finding role models and mentors, that I do remember.
During the Q&A session, the microphone was passed to a gentleman who said…
“that’s all very well for you Tony, but my circumstances are unique, there is no role model for me”
By then, the camera had located this man in the crowd and from where I was sitting, I could now see him in full view, being projected on one of the big screens.
The auditorium of thousands of people fell silent as we could all see this man who asked that question, was in a wheel chair, that supported not just his legs, but his entire body.
I’m sitting there wondering how to respond to such a question if it was asked of me.
I could see visually the pain in this man’s face.
But then I witnessed something magical.
Over the course of perhaps the next hour, Tony and this man had a conversation, where Tony asked questions as to how this man came to the physical situation he was in, and what he was now doing, and what he wanted to do in the future.
This man told Tony that his injuries were the result of a skiing accident where the specific damages to his spinal cord put him in his own unique class.
Then after some time, Tony acknowledging this man’s own special circumstances said these twenty words…
“Well sir, maybe you need to be the role model, you need to go first, so that others can follow”
Now those who know me well, would say that I am a fairly tough-skinned sort of a guy, but within seconds, tears were running down my face, as the impact of those words to that man, was clearly seen by all.
His facial expression and whole demeanor suddenly changed. It was though a different person arrived on the scene. Full of purpose, mission, and humanity.
Man’s Search For Meaning
Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning once wrote:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Now of course many of us are just so fortunate to not have experienced situations like that man in Maui, let alone Victor Frankl’s own circumstances as a Holocaust survivor, or other prominent figures such as Nelson Mandela surviving all those years in prison (I often think about Mandela as he was imprisoned in the same year I was born, 1962, and it was not until I turned 27 that he was released).
But still there is much we can learn from this and apply to our own unique situation. For me the biggest lesson is that no matter what challenge you may be facing, there is always an example where that challenge has been overcome – perhaps you may need to go back through history, and if still not found, then you be the leader, the role model that others can follow.
It’s Never A Lack Of Resources That Hold Businesses Back
In business, working with clients, I see this all the time. Because, it’s never a lack of resources or solutions to problems that hold businesses back. It is typically hanging on to old belief systems or identities which is the cause – and trust me on this, I had to overcome these old paradigms myself as I transitioned from a corporate role to one of running my own companies and embrace an entrepreneurial mindset.
Now to do this, requires self-awareness – but that is a challenge when it comes to business. Because we are often so caught up in the day to day, where finding that time to “work on our business” is rare. That is why seeking out business coaches or mentors is key. Mixing in environments where you would not normally participate is beneficial, and establishing things like an Advisory Council for your business, in contrast to a more formal board of directors, potentially be more practical for you in your early stages of your business journey – imagine this as your own built for purpose Think Tank!
So, the important thing in all this, it to ensure you do not get stuck on your own thinking and way of seeing the world.
What Is Your Paradigm?
I do not know what ever happened to that gentleman all those years ago from Maui. But I do believe in those few moments he had with Tony Robbins, he was able to shift to a more empowered paradigm than the one he originally had. Could this then possibly have led him on a different journey where he made better decisions because of that experience – not sure, but I think it was likely the case.
While we will all make mistakes from time to time, and have circumstances placed on us which will draw every ounce of skill and courage to overcome, it is only when we bring others in our lives will we succeed.
“Having people around us that believe in us more than we may believe in ourselves and challenge us to do things that we may not think is possible, to me is key”