This morning, I walked into my office to find an extremely handsome, massively muscled and intimidating young man sitting in my waiting room. Now, being a coach of stand-up comics and corporate speakers, none of which are known for their rippling muscles, I was half-convinced I'd walked into the wrong office. But no, this pro-wrestler was actually looking for me. His name was John Morrison and he was on a mission. He wanted to be funnier in the ring, funnier in interviews and he was looking to jumpstart a speaking career.
Now, I know absolutely nothing about professional wrestling. So, I did what I do for every corporate gig or for every aspiring speaker who hires me...I started researching Mr. Morrison like I was prepping for the SAT. I spent the weekend watching John's DVD as he hurled insults and his own body at opponents. I stared, mouth agape as he ran up walls, flew over chairs and vaulted over concession stands using Parkour techniques - a highly physical method of traveling through space using only your body to negotiate the obstacles before you. If you haven't seen it done, check out John inside an empty Staples Center, wow! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE838vawgXE
John explained to me how he uses obstacles such as walls, chairs, and buildings to propel himself. Bingo! This was a very interesting premise - that the obstacles in our lives can actually give us direction and power and make us stronger. That it is the obstacles themselves that propel us forward!!! What a great message for kids who are overwhelmed with broken families, school bullies, broken hearts or just plain acne!
Underneath all the flash and bravado of his pro-wrestling persona, there was a genuine and valuable lesson to be learned and I've found that no matter the profession - doctor, lawyer, teacher, manager or accountant - every speaker has an important message the lies just underneath the surface story of their life. It's my job to help them dig a little deeper to find that message, to explore the metaphor of their experience and help them bring it to a larger audience.
It's a great moment - that moment of discovery and realization. It always leaves me energized and well, not quite bouncing off the walls like John but happy to have been part of the process of making a difference in other people's lives.