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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, November 11, 2009 • Posted November 11, 2009

Motivation for the Masses…

Few programs are preceded by such anticipatory fanfare. Full-page ads in major newspapers are lobbed repeatedly at readers leading up to the BIG EVENT. The ads are howitzers of heavy hype promoting a line-up of speakers at day-long “Get Motivated!” seminars.

Sold-out arenas are common, and it is little wonder that the event’s name is followed by an exclamation point.

Attendees of all ages and from all walks of life gather to seek light in an ever-darkening world….

  • * * * *

One such recent rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena drew 11,000 people.

It was on a Monday morning, cold and dreary—the kind when many retirees remember that they don’t have to be any place and stay in bed.

Such moments are sweet, with but fleeting thoughts of working stiffs in bumper-to-bumper traffic en route to work. Fluffing my pillow, I dialed up “medium” on my electric blanket, figuring to awaken at the crack of 9:30—or so….

  • * * * *

In the immortal utterance of Charlie Brown: “Arrrggghhhh!” In a flash I remembered accepting an invitation from my friend Mike to attend the rally.

Praying that my limbs would respond in the proper sequence with minimal creaking, I hurriedly dressed.

With good luck in traffic, maybe I could make the 16-mile trip downtown in a half-hour or so….

  • * * * *

In seeking the right mind-set for the day, I should have been listening to motivational tapes instead of freeway traffic reports.

Worst fears were realized; gridlock loomed. Teeth in gritting mode and hands gripping the steering wheel, I felt my hair parting—on the wrong side of my head!

One hour and 40 minutes later, I plopped down in my rally chair, hopeful for “motivation” once I got my teeth unclenched….

  • * * * *

Don’t jump to conclusions! Though tardy, I arrived in time to hearr—former Secretary of State Colin Powell, NFL legend Terry Bradshaw, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, President George W. Bush and motivational maestro Zig Ziglar.

They lifted spirits; none disappointed.

Ziglar, 82 and slowed by a fall sustained two years ago, spoke briefly, drawing thunderous applause. His trademark quotation tied a ribbon on the day: “You can have everything you want in life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”…

  • * * * *

One of the greatest moments was unanticipated. During the noon break, 45 high school students paraded across the arena. They were well-groomed and well-dressed; the guys even had on white shirts and ties.

There was quiet speculation about their identity.

They were Breckenridge High School students who had assembled at 4:15 a.m. to board “yellow dogs” for the 100-mile trip to Fort Worth. Theirs was a long day, ending back home around 9:15 p.m. No doubt they’ll tell their children and grandchildren about the day-long seminar. They’ll describe being directed from their seats during the luncheon break to an unannounced, undisclosed meeting room. There, they met, shook hands and had photographs made with a U. S. President….

  • * * * *

Hearing the speakers and seeing these students warmed my heart. Watching the arena empty, I reflected on the day. I was thankful for the great seat my friend had saved, for a renewed spirit warmed by grand speakers and for high school students whose presence inspired. I am glad that their teachers, Jay Clack and Vince Moore, sacrificed many extra hours and logged many extra miles to provide them with a memorable off-campus experience.

“They were quoting several of the speakers verbatim the next day,” Clack said of these students who were the “talk of the campus.” (Little wonder that this veteran teacher was named “Texas Humanities Teacher of the Year for 2009.”)

Breckenridge High School principal Bryan D. Dieterich said it well: “Life is about opportunities and not wasting them, and we didn’t want to allow this one to go by without some of our students taking advantage of it.”…

  • * * * *

It was still raining as I drove home, but traffic was light.

I smiled at General Powell’s remembrance of a long-ago military instructor’s admonition: “You know you are a good leader when troops will follow you, if only out of curiosity.”

The sun stayed in bed throughout the day; I’m so glad that I didn’t….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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