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Live Inspired Vlog 186: Raise Your Hand

Raise Your Hand, Story

A Reminder That Your Story is Worthy of Sharing

Well good morning, my friends!

Welcome to Live Inspired with John O’Leary. Delighted to be with you today.

As a presenter, I get the opportunity, yes in part sharing my story, the story of those who have come into my life, what they did, what they taught, what they gave, and what it means to the rest of us. It’s an honor and a joy to share it around St. Louis, share it around my own backyard, but also to travel around the country and around the world sharing these stories.

But the best part, always, of sharing is when others decide to share back. Sometimes that means one to one in a book signing line afterwards. Sometimes it’s almost random one-offs, like in an airport, where someone will share that they met me a couple years ago and this was the impact it had on them.

Yesterday, I had a profound meeting with a woman named Marsha. It happened to be videotaped. It’s in our Facebook stream, so you may want to check that out later on.


It was one of the most beautiful live experiences that I’ve ever seen. But it reminded me also of one of my favorites. I think this gentleman and Marsha are tied for first!

I was speaking at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas. These guys weren’t ever going to come out. They were in there for the rest of their lives, in all likelihood. And I had the honor of going in to share with them about mindset, about leadership, about possibility, about the power of hope, the power of ultimately being the best versions of themselves, regardless of where they are and what they’ve done.

So that was the opportunity.

It was a joy to be with them. But I gave a little talk on gratitude. And I gave the gentlemen an opportunity to share things they were grateful for while at Fort Leavenworth.

I wasn’t sure what the response would be. I gave them 90 seconds or so. I played the piano gently in the background while they were reflecting, “what are you grateful for being at Fort LEavenworth?”

And then after finishing a little song on the piano, came back to the gentlemen, I said, “Ok guys, who wants to share? Who wants to share?”

Shockingly, maximum security prison in central Kansas, nobody said anything. Nobody raised their hand.

But eventually, one gentleman raised his hand, came to his feet, kinda smiled a little bit, and then he said, “Not one dang thing!’

Not one dang thing, man.

He sat down and everybody started to laugh.

Well, I responded with the words, “Anybody else?”

“Thank you for that. That’s very thoughtful. Anybody else want to share?”

And after a fairly long pause, there was a gentleman in the back of the room. He rose his hand, he came to his feet, he had kinda rusty, brown, reddish hair, and he said, “John I’ll share.”

The gentleman began by saying heat in the winter, air in the summer, three square meals, the library, access to the internet once a week. He talked about the ability to write letters, the ability to learn, the ability to grow, the ability to read, the opportunity to watch the sun rise. He ended by talking about the ability for forgiveness and redemption.

This guy, this one fellow, shared 37 items that were on his list of things he was grateful for as a result of being at Fort Leavenworth.

When the first guy shared- not one dang thing- the entire room erupted in laughter. They thought it was hilarious.

But when the second gentleman shared, they didn’t laugh. They rose to their feet, they gave the gentleman a standing ovation, they applauded him loudly. People were moved, some of them to tears.

Here’s why this matters, Facebook LIVE community. Here’s why it matters, Live Inspired community.

Every day of our lives, we all have walls that surround us. Some of us physically, some of us financially, some of us relationally, some of us quite literally in prison.

Now what?

How do you want to perceive those walls? How do you want to perceive what you’ve been through, where you are, challenges you face, the life that is in front of you?

You can view it all as a challenge, a curse, a cross, or… as a gift, as an opportunity, as something to be grateful for.

I was reminded of that in Fort Leavenworth. I saw it loud and clear in living color yesterday in Medora, ND with Marsha. And my friends, I saw it when I interviewed my most recent Live Inspired podcast guest.

His name is Andre Norman. He is a terrific example of redemption, of possibility and why really in life, we should try not to give up on others, including ourselves.

So if you want to learn more about the Andre Norman story, about why he’s referred to now as the “Ambassador of Hope.” Why this man who was going completely down the wrong route is now moving forward on the right route, and taking others with him.

Check it out on my Live Inspired podcast. It’s available anywhere you pull down your podcasts. You can go to the website or you can pull it down anywhere you get your podcasts: Live Inspired with John O’Leary.

My friends, there is a lot to view around us that we can struggle with and get angry about, or we can view it all as a gift and it becomes such.

I want to thank you for being part of our community. I want to wish you ladies and gentlemen an awesome Wednesday morning, and I want to remind you loud and clear that the best is yet to come.

So, thank you for tuning in.

For this time and until next time, this is John O’Leary.

And today is your day.

Live Inspired.

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