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It Takes 20 Seconds of Insane Courage..

The photo is of actor Morgan Freeman personally greeting a group of travelers that went on a 'Travels with Speaker Charlie Adams' trip one March. This meeting of a Hollywood great never would have happened, had it not been for 20 seconds of insane ourage by a lady from the farm lands near Angola, IN.


When I talk about 'Stoke the Fire Within,' I encourage companies, organizations and individuals to regularly do things that keep them 'on fire.' For example, I go to movies that are inspiring. I leave stoked! Recently, my 19 year old son and I drove 45 minutes to the Vickers Theater in Three Oaks, MI to see 'The Way,' starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son Emilio Estevez. Sheen plays a U.S. eye doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to get the remains of his adult son, killed in a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. The Dad decides to walk 'The Way' in memory of his son, and the experience changes him dramatically.


Always looking for movies that stoke the fire within, I saw "We Bought a Zoo" starring Matt Damon. His character, a single Dad raising two young children after his wife dies at a fairly young age, explains to his 14 year old son that in many cases all it takes is "20 seconds of insane courage to accomplish a goal." At the time, the shy teen is trying to muster up the courage to tell a girl he likes her. The movie includes a scene where Damon's character reflects on when he walked by a cafe as a much younger man and saw the lady that would be his wife. Her beauty stopped him in his tracks. He was outside the window of the coffee shop. She was just inside. His knees wobbling, he drew on 20 seconds of insane courage, and went inside to talk to her. He looked at her and mumbled something to the effect of, "Why would a beautiful woman like you ...... talk to a guy like me?" She looked at him, and answered, "Why not?..."


That led to marriage.


Back to Morgan Freeman. For six years, I have hosted about 4 or 5 Group Inspirational Trips a year for Edgerton's Travel. In March of this past year, our group was on a New Orleans and the Old South trip. We were coming back through Blues Country in Mississippi. Edgerton's Travel arranged for us to stay at the wildly unique "Shack Up Inn" in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and for the group to have dinner in a private dining area in Morgan Freeman's upscale Madidi Restaurant. As we arrived, I suggested that Freeman might be there, all the while thinking he would probably be on location of a film.


Our group walked in and directly began the whispers. "He is here! Morgan Freeman is here! He is over there, having dinner!" The excitement rushed through the group as we were escorted to the private area.


The majority of us walked by, content on catching a glimpse of Freeman.


Not Karen Dalrymple. A long time secretary in a Law Firm and a regular traveler on my trips with her husband Terry, she mustered up 20 seconds of insane courage.


Karen walked across the restaurant to Freeman and in a very respectful but passionate way said, "I just wanted to say that everyone in our group admires your work, and we are glad to be here. We are staying at the Shack Up Inn nearby? Do you know where that is?"


"I am from around here," Freeman answered. "I know.."


"That's great," said Karen. "Well, I don't want to interrupt your meal, but it would mean a lot to us if later you could come up and speak to our group."


Freeman looked at her, smiled, and promised he would do his best. He was under the weather and looked like someone fighting a flu bug or something. The photo below was taken by a fellow traveler as Karen talked to the actor.


Karen came back. The group settled down for incredible food, and about 25 minutes later, the door opened and there was Morgan Freeman. For about 60 enchanting seconds, he greeted everyone like the southern gentleman that he is, asked how the trip had been going and how they liked the food. The jaws of everyone dropped, as these were salt of the earth people from places like Mentone, Indiana and Edwardsburg, Michigan.


At the end, he said, "We have a saying down here in Mississippi....ya'll come back, you hear?"


He smiled, and disappeared.


For 30 seconds, everyone in the room just sat there, just holding their forks and soaking up the moment. What at experience. What a memory. All because of 20 seconds of insane courage by a lady from the farm land of northern Indiana.


If there is one thing I share in the Stoke talks, that I learned from covering peak performers all those years in TV News and Sports, is that you have to make it happen, and often it will take some insane courage and the ability to block out the possibilities of failure.


When I was a student at the University of Mississippi back in the early 1980's, I was content to be an Education major. I had grown up to be very shy and scared of speaking in public. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would go on and become a television anchor and motivational speaker. One day, though, I was walking by the Journalism Building on campus when I saw a sign on the door that read: Tryouts: Student TV News. Tonight!" (the photo below is of those steps)


I stopped in my tracks. The fire within me was stoked! Something told me that was my future. In my head, I argued that I would be scared to death to audition in front of a tv camera, but my heart would not listed.


I mustered up 20 seconds of insane courage, walked up those steps and walked into Farley Hall. I asked out loud who I would see about trying out for the student news. A professor came out along with a communications student. I told them I was an education major, but wanted to try out. Was that okay? They said sure.


I came back that night, was so nervous that I had cottonmouth and could hardly speak. I left the auditions thinking that was the end of that, but got a call the next day saying there were openings to be the sports anchor Monday and Thursday nights. Everyone else wanted to do News and Weather.


The door was opened. From there it was working my tail off for the student TV News and Newspaper, an internship at WHBQ TV in Memphis, a first job as an anchor at tiny WTOK TV in Meridian, Mississippi, to KBAK TV in Bakersfield, CA where I was fortunate enough to win 3 Golden Microphones for Broadcasting Excellence, to WDSU TV in New Orleans and WSBT TV in South Bend. Along the way I developed a passion for inspiring individuals, groups and events to reach their potential through motivational speaking, and developed the Stoke the Fire Within keynotes and breakouts.


It all came from mustering 20 seconds of insane courage, like Matt Damon's character says in the movie.


As your future builds up steam, ask yourself and your group, "Where can you get 20 seconds on insane courage?" What personal or team goal/challenge are you going to tackle this year. Whether you are into resolutions or not, the beginning of a new year offers a window of opportunity to reflect and set goals.


As Wayne Gretzky says, you miss every shot you don't take. What shots are you going to take?


- Charlie Adams, Motivational Speaker
574 807 2279 || Email Charlie