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“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.” – Steve Jobs

Have you ever completely invested yourself into a project, a person or an event only to have your efforts torn down?

Five years I was speaking at an event and I experienced the joy of giving 100% of my effort and, then, the pain of being torn down after it.

I also learned three invaluable lessons in the process.

I was invited to speak at a conference in Canada. It was one of my first trips on a plane, my first time out of the country and the largest group I’d ever spoken in front of. I had only been speaking for about a year and I was totally petrified.

Needless to say, I did not sleep the night before. Instead I paced back and forth reciting and re-reciting my speech.

With the help of several coffees and a few prayers, I was ready when the president of the organization introduced me the following morning!

My aim was to share from my heart about my personal experiences as a child, the heroes who showed up, their profound impact on my life, the

lessons they taught me and – most importantly – how this connected to what the men and women in this room did each day in their business and lives. It was raw, passionate and authentic. Several hundred people danced to their feet when I finished. Looking over the room I felt emotionally exhausted, completely humbled and totally fired up…until it happened.

The president called me back on stage for an informal question and answer segment. I answered a series of questions: “What happened to your house?” “How’s your brother today?” “How’d you meet your wife?” Then, from the back of the room came the final question: “John, it is an entertaining story. Stunning really. Never heard anything like. But, John, and don’t take any offense, I don’t think any of it applies to me. John, why should I care?”

He crossed his arms and waited for my answer.

I took a deep breath, thanked the gentleman for his honesty and shared this truth: stories of individuals who overcome remarkable adversity hold the keys to how we, too, can overcome adversity in our lives. [Tweet this.] That stories of great leaders (like Nurse Roy, Jack Buck, my parents) remind the rest of us what type of impact we could have through our lives for those around us. And that often the reason we don’t take the next step in life is the self-fulfilling excuses why we can’t.

I answered with a smile, but below the surface was totally deflated. This experience, however, lead directly to three critical learnings:

  1. We grow most by asking and answering difficult questions. [Tweet this.] This does not mean that we should “let the noise of other’s opinions drown out our inner voice.” But, this question allowed me to critique and grow myself and my presentation. Every speech since, every handout, every exercise is now included (or dismissed) in light of these questions, “Why should they care about this? How does this positively influence them? How does this story challenge, encourage, inspire this audience in their lives?” These questions are important to ask not only in creating a speech, but in my every interaction, conversation and action.
  2. The only way to go from crawling to walking is by falling. As children, we learn this truth naturally. After every face-plant, we pull ourselves back up, wipe off the tears and try again. We fall hundreds of times before we walk. In growing a business, transforming a brand, improving a marriage, raising a child, making a difference we should plan on falling. [Tweet this.] The important thing is not to stop falling, but to keep learning, growing, improving, getting back up and walking forward.
  3. Motivation is an inside job. You can’t plead, beg or trick someone to feel inspired. Motivation takes an internal drive. Great leaders know this and live this. They also take the time to discern with their team members (employees, patients, children, neighbors) what lights each of them up. The best teachers and mentors inspire us to imagine what’s possible through our lives and then equip us to choose the next step for ourselves. Our job as leaders, then, isn’t to force people to drink, but to discover with them what makes them thirsty and then encourage them to dream, think, work and pursue that passion.

So, why should you care?

It’s a great question. Perhaps my greatest realization from the experience at the conference in Canada was this: ultimately no one can answer this question except for you. It’s your job. It’s your family. It’s your health. It’s your career. It’s your life. And it’s your responsibility to care.

The world is ready for you to be on fire for a message, a mission and a cause even bigger than yourself.

What do YOU care about today? Share in the comments! One lucky friend who shares will get a free enrollment into my Ignite Life Today program.

If you enjoyed my Monday Morning Motivation blog, sign up to receive it each Monday in your inbox.

 

0 replies on “Why Should I Care?”

Thank you for lighting a fire that had been turned down a bit. Not out..but not where it was or where I wanted it to be or could be. I was checking out topic to share with my teammates and your name was there. I was not familiar with your work so I googled you. WOW!!!! I felt that flame come back 100 % after reading your story. I work with my team everyday about caring and each of you matter and can make a difference. I am starting a kindness revolution!! One act of kindness at a time and we can change the world. You have a new follower. thank you for your courage and spirit. We all have a choice. I choose hope and love and life. I am so blessed. Have a beautiful day!!

Thanks all for commenting – and keep the comments coming!

LEONARD KAISER – you are the lucky winner of my Ignite Life Today Program! I’ll send you information via email! J

Always great sharing your ezperiences. You are right, though we are not you and have not had to experience what you did as a child, we all still face similar challenges. We all do fall down and hopefully are capable of then standing up. Your presentation just reminds us all of that.

YES! As long as we stand up once more than we fall down. Keep igniting your possibility and that of those around you, Harry! J

John, We just sold our home. It was emotionally difficult selling it ourselves because we got to know the two couples who wanted it. I kept coming back to your words at your LAUNCH conference: Focus on love and focus on relationships. I negotiated with kindness, but honestly letting the buyers know it was a business deal. I kept coming back to honesty. Emotionally it was heartbreaking and happy all at the same time – one couple was very disappoint and one was very excited. You have to care…what is life without that?

Amen, Anne! Caring, love, relationships – that IS what life is all about! Congrats on selling your house I know you’ll find joy in whatever life brings you next! J

If we look within, it is there our worth resides. But it is great to have a friend willing to help you with that search.

One helped me realize, you cannot receive what you do not share. If you don’t believe in yourself and others, don’t expect others to believe in you.

Your vital YES, Steven! It’s even easier to live vibrantly when you surround yourself with people who light you up and help you live your personal mission. Keep shining brightly! J

Why should I care John? Because caring is the only thing that gives us life. I care because, not to care, is to be so self absorbed that I cannot see the effect caring has on my life. Our inner voice is telling us that giving of ourselves to others is what will make is happy. We just have to listen by removing the garbage that is thrown at us each day. I care John because not to care is not to be alive.

John, I’ve experienced what you related this morning and want to say you are spot in! Thanks for serving and leading!

Thank you, Nile, for your kind words. Awesome to know you connect with others – we all have much more in common than we often recognize. Continue boldly and remember the best is yet to come! J

I think this sums it up perfectly as to why I should care:
“It’s your job. It’s your family. It’s your health. It’s your career. It’s your life. And it’s your responsibility to care.” Thank you for your inspiration John!

Today I care about my 3 year old daughter who told me she was sad that I was taking her to school because she would miss me; my son who struggled in a soccer game over the weekend and felt he let his team down; and my husband who is stressed about a project we are completing at home.

Jill, continue boldly celebrating the little joys among the heavier loads. Thank YOU for ALL you do and keep loving on your family! They are lucky to have someone who cares so much. J

Read your blog today and wanted to comment. One ofmy best friends was buried this weekend. He was involved in a car accident about 6 months ago and was undergoing rehabilitation as he broke his neck and was going to be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. he was 50 years old and last Monday a blood clot broke off from his long and went to his heart. Throughout everything he went through he was able to stay positive and the overwhelming message at his funeral was stay positive and work on the relationships and God take care of the rest. After the pastor spoke there was a video of him from his hospital bed telling everyone that from his own mouth. What an inspiring message. Even in the midst of the most tragic thing in his life he was thinking of others and encouraging them to take care of each other. Stop focusing on all the little stuff. He encouraged everyone to repair a relationship that had been broken. Thank you for your encouraging words this morning.

Brother Leonard, thank you for sharing. I am sorry for the loss of such a bright light but am so glad you are celebrating the important message that he shared with you and everyone he touched: keep sharing it and let his spark continue to light the world! J

John,

What an awesome message. Comes at a time when I really needed to hear that said, and will be sharing with a leadership group tomorrow in one of my presentations as well. Thank you for your intentional focus on the positve in this world.

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Live Inspired Together is a community of friends changing the world together, starting with their own. In a world that often focuses on negativity, John O’Leary - Live Inspired shares the other side of the story through his member-supported channels (essays, Live Inspired Podcast, video, webcasts, social platforms) to connect our community and share inspiration and actions to live it. Support now.