As I begin looking forward to a new school year on the road for the Manners & Motivation Tour I wanted to take a quick look back at what was a landmark year for me. I had been speaking to JR/SR High & College classrooms for years on various topics but I had always dreamed of putting on a loud, raucous full school event that was equally as entertaining as it was touching. Thanks to Neal VanErsvelde I was allowed test this very event at my former high school. In that moment I was able to simultaneously achieve a boyhood dream as well as launch what would become the most student requested speaking event ever. Through a committed sponsorship from a Seattle clothing company, The Please Line, the Manners & Motivation Tour was launched and, for me, a dream fulfilled.
See below for ten things I learned on the Manners & Motivation Tour!
1. What the students expect is a speaker standing behind podium to lecture. What they get is a rock n’ roll roller coaster of an experience.
2. Honesty goes a long way with students. They can see straight through you if you are not authentic, but if you are, you can connect deeply. Always be honest and authentic.
3. One on one time with students is fulfilling and life changing for me because students just want to be heard and often need someone there willing to listen. What they have to say is astounding.
4. Adults/staff get as much value out of the Manners & Motivation events as students. The feedback from adults is that the events remind them of lessons long forgotten and to take time to connect, or re-connect, with others.
5. It was a surprise to me that students as young as sixth grade were able to connect to the message and enjoy the experience. What blew my mind was that many of these students were having certain feelings much younger than I remember having them.
6. The long term effects of each event are lasting and impactful. Students regularly share with me their life changes, new choices, and inspiration via social media and handwritten letters. Nothing is more fulfilling than these personal messages and the positive growth they continue to share with me.
7. Students have a lot of great questions and are willing to put themselves out there to get the answers. This makes the Q&A portion of each event as informational and touching as the speaking itself, sometimes even more so.
8. When I put myself out there, the students reciprocate and the walls come down quickly. Their courage, strength, and willingness to change brings us all closer, even if there are thousands in attendance.
9. It is possible to see students change right in front of you. I regularly see the pivotal moment when the light bulb goes on for students. The moments when they connect and the tears flow or the smiles light up their faces, those are the moments motivate me to give even more.
10. Because of the emotional connections that are established with the students and staff along with the insanely personal stories students, staff, and parents in attendance share with me I am often brought to tears! Hearing their stories of heartbreak, triumph, and strength is proof that unless you walk a mile in someones shoes you never know what others have endured!
I am itching to kickoff the next school year and get out there once again to learn some lessons and change some lives. I am a lucky man to live the life I live and am honored to be trusted with your stories. Thank you!