Recently I flew up to Boston to attend the 30th Anniversary Gala for National Speakers Association of New England. They were honoring all the past chapter presidents and I was the 20th president. During my term, I actually hosted the 20th Anniversary Gala and people flew in from all over the country so I felt somewhat obligated and compelled to make the trip and attend… and I’m so glad I did!

It’s not often that we get an opportunity to look back and see our trajectory and career path and get to honor and give thanks for all the people who helped us on our journey. During the event, each past president in attendance got to share a story or most memorable moment of NSA-NE. However, we were told to keep our remarks to 90 seconds!! They should’ve known better… a roomful of speakers and one microphone – trust me – no one kept to the timeline!

I was one of the first ones to get the mic and I shared my fondest memory that is actually a chapter in a book that I co-authored with 17 other youth speakers entitled, The Burning Heart of a Difference Maker.

My story is called You’ve Got What It Takes

It was my very first National Speakers Association meeting. I was brand new and scared to death, yet I felt as if I had arrived home. Here was a roomful of people who actually got what I was trying to do with my life.

One of the sessions during the conference was a storytelling workshop. The presenter led a guided visualization to help us remember moments from our past and explained that stories help anchor the learning for our audiences. During the exercise, he had us picture ourselves in our family car, driving down the street of our childhood home. He encouraged us to remember vivid details, picturing the inside of the car, the dashboard and steering wheel. One woman raised her hand and asked, “What if you can’t remember the inside of the car?” and he responded, “Just pull into the driveway.”

At that exact moment, I was whooshed back in time and suddenly I was sitting in the front passenger seat of my car and my mother was in the drivers seat. I was sixteen years old and when we pulled into the driveway, my mother put the car in park, turned off the ignition and then turned to me and said, “The doctor has given me a year to live unless I have open heart surgery.”

After the workshop, I went up to the woman who had asked the question (her name was Marcie) and thanked her for jogging my memory and told her about my recollection. I went on to tell her that both my parents had died of heart disease and that my mother had actually died during that open heart surgery. I babbled on about being new to the speaking business but that I felt called to do this work. I said, “I don’t have business cards, my topic, niche market or anything. All I know is that I have a burning passion to help others live a healthy life.”

Marcie asked, “Are you a member of the National Speakers Association yet?” I shook my head no and looked down and just as I did, she grabbed me by the hand and said, “Come with me.” She marched me through the hotel lobby, up the stairway to her hotel room. She took out her check book, wrote me out a check for $100 and said, “If money is the only thing stopping you from being a member, then here is 1/5 of your dues. I want you to work hard to earn the other 4/5 because you belong here and you’ve got what it takes.”

That was twenty years ago and I can trace my entire career and business back to that very moment when one woman saw in me what I hadn’t even begun to see in myself. Five little words that changed the course of my life forever…

You’ve Got What It Takes.

Every single day we are presented with sacred moments where we have the power to build someone up or tear them down. We may not always be able to repay someone for the kindness they have shown us, but we can pay it forward and extend that same kindness to someone else.

“You can have anything you want if you just help enough people get what they want.” ~Zig Ziglar

After the gala, I tracked Marcie down and called her. I told her that I had shared our special story with the group and thanked her once again for always believing in me. She said I made her day – but it was she who made my life what it is today.

Please share this story with someone who helped shape your life or career and let them know how much you appreciate them. In the comments below, let us know about your own incredible Earth Angels so we can keep paying it forward and bless others in the process.

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