CPAE Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech ~ August 2, 2011
On August 2, 2011, I was honored. thrilled, and humbled to be inducted into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame in Anaheim, California, at the National Speakers Association convention. There are only 120 members in the world, including Art Linkletter, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Zig Ziglar, Og Mandino and Ken Blanchard. The current members select and vote for the new members, thus the name “Council of Peers Award of Excellence”. Just five people are chosen each year. This year’s amazing recipients were Chad Hymas, Victoria Labalme, Mike Rayburn, Dan Thurmon, (and me)! All my children and two of my grandchildren were there and many, many precious friends, so it was truly a “night to remember!” This is the speech I gave when I accepted my award:
“I’ll never forget the first time my late husband, Charlie, came with me to NSA. We sat at this very banquet, and during the evening, he reached under the table, took my hand and whispered in my ear, ‘Honey, you’ll be up on that stage one day.’ And oh, my goodness, HERE I AM! And I know he is here, too….
Like so many of you in this room, I have spent most of my life trying to be ‘good enough’ – and now, you’ve just told me that I AM ‘good enough’ – WOW!
I think my life can be a message of hope to all of you. I grew up in a very small town in Iowa, I went to college, got married, and became a high school and college English teacher. When our children were born, I made the choice to stay home for 19 years, making them my career. During that time, I finished by Master’s degree, one class a quarter for 5 years. Then, at age 45 I went back to work when our oldest son was going off to college, and at age 52 I started my own company. So, you CAN have it all – you just have it at different times of your life!
Life, however, is not always easy and by age 56 I had lost my father, my son, and my precious husband. Not how you plan your life to be,…. but during this time, I learned several important life lessons:
1. Every day is a gift. Every day we wake up, we have a chance to experience joy! Many days I didn’t think I could even get through until noon, but I consciously learned to live 5 minutes at a time and that has taught me to be fully in the present.
2. I learned that I have CHOICES. I have had a lot of pain in my life, but I choose to be a happy person – not always easy, but every one of us in this room, regardless of our circumstances, has that same choice….and that is the most empowering gift we can give to ourselves and others.
As I think through my career, there are several reasons why I think I have been successful:
• When I first started my company, I said, ‘God, You gave me this gift, so this is Your company and You put me where You want me to be,’ and it has been miracle! Who would ever have thought that a girl from a town of 4500 in Iowa would be the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents? I chose Proverbs 3:6 as my life verse, ‘In all They ways acknowledge Him and He will direct Thy paths,’ and look what He has done!
• Early in my career I became friends with Ken Blanchard (P.S. it all started in the Ladies Restroom which is a whole other story!) He shard with me his definition of ‘ego’ which is ‘Edging God out.’ This has been foundational in all my work. Although I work really hard, I am VERY clear that I am just the messenger. On those days when the equipment is not working or a bad hair day or a run in my stocking, I know it is NOT about me but about bringing hope to the people in my audiences.
• I have been blessed with wonderfully supportive friends and family – all my children are here tonight and two of my precious little grandchildren, Owen and Simon. Today is Owen’s 6th birthday, so, can we all say……, ‘Happy Birthday, Owen!’ Ken and Shannon Johnston, who believed in me when I first went back to work and taught me much of what I know, and my favorite aunt and cousin, my precious MasterMind group, and my wonderful assistant, Laura.
• All of you in this room have encouraged, taught, mentored, challenged, and loved me even when I was not very lovable. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
We are all so blessed that we do not have just a job or profession, but we have a MISSION to find our own truth and to share it to make this hurting world a better place.
I want to end with a thought that I use to close every presentation from our dear friend, Og Mandino. This is his Rule #10 for a better way to live:
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, loved one or stranger, friend or foe, as if they were going to be dead at midnight. Extend to each person you meet, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and the kindness and the understanding and the love that you can muster, and do so with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.
And dear Friends, my life will never be the same again. Thank you for the difference you are making in this world and for this precious honor. God bless!”