Look Within You (3)

Welcome to your column on public speaking. Last week, we explored the importance of looking within us and bring out the hidden treasures. I shared with you the story of Leslie Calvin “Les” Brown who was born on the floor in an abandoned building and was later labeled educably mentally retarded. Les listened to the teacher who told him, “Never let other people’s opinion of you become your reality” and he went on to become one of the greatest public speakers in the world today.

While preparing to write on someone else in today’s article, another aspect of Les Brown’s triumph over life’s challenges struck me and I know you won’t mind if I share it with you. Les usually talks of what he refers to as the “inner conversation”.

In one of his special TV programmes titled, “You Deserve!”, Les Brown told the story of how he was in the audience one day, listening to Zig Ziglar, whom he considered to be one of the greatest motivational speakers on the planet. As Les watched Zig move back and forth while delivering his speech, he said to himself, “I would like to do that. I can do that’. He leaned over to the person sitting next to him and asked, “How much do they pay him to do that?” He replied, “Five thousand dollars”, and Les said, “I know I can do that”.

However, on the way home as he was driving, his inner conversation kicked in and said, “Les Brown, you can’t do that. You don’t have college education. You don’t have money. You don’t have contacts. You’ve never worked for major corporations. What makes you think that you can make more in one hour talking than you make working for a year?” So, for several years, he talked himself out of his dreams until he finally had the courage to take the bold step.

Decades after Les Brown became a world famous public speaker, he reflected on the years he wasted convincing himself that he could not do what he actually could do. He said the easiest thing he does presently is to speak, train people to speak and make presentations before thousands of people. However, the most difficult thing he had ever done was to believe that it was possible. A lot of times, the process of believing in ourselves is far tougher than what it takes to pursue our dreams.

Les Brown says that many people think of great things to do and they talk themselves out of it. According to him, that inner conversation is the reason most people take their greatness and ideas to the graveyard with them. Les referred to late Myles Munroe’s famous quote that the wealthiest place on earth is the graveyard. According to Myles, “The wealthiest place in the world is not the gold mines of South America or the oil fields of Iraq or Iran. They are not the diamond mines of South Africa or the banks of the world. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. There lie buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, bestselling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.”

So, what is the idea you are currently talking yourself out of? What opportunity are you letting go because you think you are not good enough? If you look inside you, you will see that you are up to the task, with God on your side, of course. Stop focusing on your failures; start concentrating on your successes. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t learn from the past. But after learning, you must focus on the future. If you act on the gift in you, you will make the world, and not the cemetery, a richer place. Do you dare to take the step? Five years from now, you will either be telling the story of how you succeeded in spite of your limitations or you will be telling the story of how you could have succeeded if not for your limitations. It is really all about the choice you make today.