My dream to be a speaker was born in 1952. However, it wasn't until 1968 that I was able to go full-time in the business, and it wasn't until 1972 that my career really took off. In those intervening years, I was privileged to read a large number of excellent books and listen to outstanding speakers as I traveled countless miles driving to the "freebies" that I conducted. During this period my skills as a communicator slowly developed and my experience produced real-life stories and lessons that I shared with audiences of all kinds and sizes. I spoke to civic clubs, schools, rehab centers, prisons, churches--to virtually any group that permitted me to share with them.
Through it all I had discouraging times when it seemed as though nothing was happening, but not only did I have the dream, the dream had me. I can honestly tell you that not once did I ever contemplate abandoning the idea of being a full-time professional speaker. I became obsessed with the idea that what I had to say was important, and that I could make a difference in people's lives. In retrospect, I realize the long delay was largely responsible for much of the success I've enjoyed over the last 35 years.
Along this journey, I came to realize that the more I knew about my subject, the more creative I could be in my presentations. The more new ideas I acquired from others, the more useful my own ideas became, because truth forms a synergism. I was careful to speak truth and ethical principles as I built my career.
I believe that whatever your chosen profession, if you make a strong commitment and have a burning desire in your heart--combined with the conviction that you can make a difference--dogged persistence provides you the best insurance for success. Remember that persistence enables you to develop other skills as you go along, provided that you're always "on the grow" and are genuinely excited about benefiting the people you're dealing with.