Speak It, and They Will Come

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Carl’s words still run through my head like a song I replay.

“If you speak it, they will come,” he said while setting up his Mini-DVD Camcorder. “Our youth need to hear your message.”

Ironically, I didn’t believe that to be the case on this brisk October day in 2010. It was approximately three years after I had left Naples, Florida, to return to Toledo, Ohio, three years after I felt a sense of joy and excitement at the thought of beginning a new journey.

When I received the what-are-you-going-to-do-next questions from family and friends, I boldly and confidently proclaimed, “I’m going to travel throughout the world and inspire young people to discover their gifts.”

On that October day in 2010, I was forced to have an about-face with the truth. Moreover, the facts became undeniably clear. No one was inviting me to speak, not even for free. My email inbox was empty, and all I could see on my calendar were open dates.

As I laid in my bed staring at the ceiling, all I could think about was whether or not my old job was still available. Suddenly, my phone rang. Without looking at the number first, I calmly answered, hoping that it was someone calling about a gig.

It was a call from Carl. A former teacher and business owner, Carl became a close friend and mentor as I transitioned into the speaking profession. One of the few people who knew how real my struggle was getting, Carl was also one of the few who believed in my ability.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised by his encouraging words. However, I was shocked by what he wanted me to do.

“I’m coming over with my camera,” he said, “and we’re going to record you speaking.”

I said, “What? Record me speaking to whom?”

Armed with his Mini-DVD Camcorder and a Tripod, Carl walked into my apartment and said the words that changed everything. What Carl did for me that day was challenge me to believe in my message and my mission.

“What you have to say has to mean so much to you that you’ll say it, even if no one is listening,” he said.

Carl helped me understand that I was selling hope, but I couldn’t give anyone that if I had none for myself. Two years ago, Carl passed away. Still, his words and what he did for me will live on as I continue to live out my purpose and inspire young people to discover their gifts.

I want to be your Carl today and encourage you to keep fighting for your dream and believing in what it means to you. What you have to give is unique and special. Don’t be discouraged if others can’t see the value in what you have to offer.

Just speak it, and they will come from near and far to see you do what only you can do!