January 7, 2024
No one is immune to encountering challenges. Even successful or admirable individuals face problems, difficulties, and complexities. There are no strict boundaries when it comes to screwing-up; failures, errors in judgment, slip-ups, accidents, and blunders can happen to anyone … regardless of their talents, skills and knowledge.
The key to your success will be to keep going.
Consider my profession - delivering speeches to live audiences. Throughout my career as a professional speaker, I've encountered challenging situations. For instance, just before I was set to deliver a speech, I had an incident where the restroom's spigot unexpectedly blasted water all over me while I attempted to wash my hands. Drenched in a tan-colored suit, there was no concealing what had happened. Nevertheless, I walked onto the stage, shared the humorous incident with the audience, which was met with laughter, and continued with my speech. I've faced scenarios like:
A 10-foot high stage collapse under me – landed on my feet and I kept going
A small earth-quake – got the alarms turned off and I kept going
A fire on the back wall – helped put it out and I kept going
Once, while 1,800 people were present at a luncheon program, a waiter accidentally struck me in the head with a tray full of dishes which fell everywhere – I apologized to him for zigging when I should have zagged (the audience loved that)… then I helped him pick up the dishes and I kept going.
To mitigate unforeseen circumstances, I have learned to have two of everything just in case one breaks, you can keep going. I have had computers crash, microphones quit, and remote controls break. I always have two computers running my Power Point presentation simultaneously, just in case the main computer has issues; all you have to do is push one button and the other computer takes over and you keep going. I even fully-charge both computers the night before, just in case we have a power outage; I can still give the speech in the dark and let the computer serve as my notes. Here is an actual example of that one:
I was on a large stage, in an impressive theater in Las Vegas with two giant 40’ video screens. The setting was perfect with over 500 people in the audience. Fifteen minutes into my program EVERYTHING went black; I’m talking totally black, where you couldn’t see your hand right in front of your face. No one had a clue what had happened. I thought it may have just been a power surge, and everything would come back on in a few moments. Not a chance. I didn’t know it at the time … but it was a major power outage that knocked out four city blocks in Vegas for 90 minutes.
The only thing we had in the theater were emergency lights and the red emergency exit signs. All audio and video support were gone … forget PowerPoint, lighted stage, microphone, or air-conditioning. We now went from a beautiful setting to a dark tomb. So, now what? How should I proceed? There was a theater full of eyes (dimly) watching and waiting for my next move.
So, I told them to bring me my computer, which was running just fine and fully charged. I got off stage and walked into the middle of the audience and I kept going. I needed to talk a lot louder because my microphone no longer worked, keep the audience engaged (through more animation) and replace my PowerPoint slides with pertinent, descriptive stories. My audience and I were now thrown together into a strange experience, but they were very supportive of my efforts to deliver my message. For me, it will be one of the most memorable programs I have ever delivered and the ovation and comments I received after my program showed me how much they appreciated that I kept going.
I don’t care what obstacles you face in life or business, there is but ONE RULE: Keep going. As Roy Bennett astutely put it:
"Keep going. Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end."
"Your only true security in life
is your ability to perform."