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Torchbearers touch hearts


How is your story passing on the torch?

It’s rare for a technical speaker to capture the attention of a thousand professional speakers – and even rarer  to move the room to complete silence. Such was the case in Philadelphia when Dr. William Magee took the stage at the National Speakers Association convention this week. Given the egos and talkers in the room, one might expect a dentist and M.D. who stood at the podium to come off as a bit dry. Not the case as the Operation Smile co-founder as he covered ‘what is your story, who are you, where have you been and where are you going next.’

Many in the room were moved to tears before the surgeon left the stage. I was one of them. I don’t know if it was the images of children from around the world with cleft palates and facial diseases, Dr. Magee’s theme of “Use Your Gifts to Change the World”, or discussion of the many players it took to help 150,000 children with facial deformities through Operation Smile. I suspect it was the perspective he provided in telling story after story about the kids Operation Smile helped; no parent could listen without having their heart touched. Personally, it was a reminder of the bigger problems of the world than the complaints we hear every day in a developed country.

My lasting impression from Dr. Magee and Operation Smile was the story. Not just the powerful story of helping kids or the before and after pictures;  I was moved by Dr. Magee’s own passion, ability to bring others to his story and reminder to be a torchbearer.  He talked about  politicians, nurses and wealthy supporters who had more impact than the surgeons who operated on the children. He also poignantly reminded us – a group of people in the motivational business –  about the importance of our own torches.

“Torchbearers will run with the torch until they fall and then they will pass the torch to others.” I needed to hear that. I also needed to see a person tell their story with absolute passion. The result was touched hearts – even for those not involved in the cause.  It was a reminder of how the power of a story delivered with conviction and quiet personal passion can bring others  to a cause. It wasn’t about the delivery or even the message; it was about the human connection. How can agriculture do the same? After all, we touch lives every day, but have not illustrated this to others. Are you convicted enough about what you do to share it with others?

“Promise me you’ll use your gifts to help people.” was one of Dr. Magee’s ending quotes. I know God gave me a gift and work daily to use that gift. Do you know your gift? How are you using it to be a torchbearer and help others?

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4 Responses to “Torchbearers touch hearts”

  1. Great post Michele! I think I’ll share it with my Ag-Urban Leadership class that I coordinate! I believe I have a few “gifts” and that I have been a torchbearer for each of those gifts at different times when the torch has needed to be carried.

    • Michele Payn-Knoper says:

      Val, each person has their own gifts. Sometimes it’s just scary to use them. The message about torchbearers was personally very meaning – it helped me to realize it’s O.K. to pass on the torch and not feel guilty. Please share as you wish!

  2. Neen says:

    Michele – your blog is a fantastic summary of my favorite speaker at the event too. His work, his message, his delivery – exceptional. Thank you for sharing this – you too are a torch bearer for your industry.

    • Michele Payn-Knoper says:

      I thanked David Glickman afterwards and mentioned that it was amusing to look around the room to see that type of delivery resonate with our speaker crowd that is forever critiquing everyone who stands on the platform. What a lesson in true eloquence and conviction!

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