It is difficult to mask dread and be a motivational speaker.
In preparing my Power Point slides for our May meeting I inserted this image at the end of my presentation with the intent of announcing that this was to be MY last meeting. As I rehearsed my thoughtful, inspirational, motivatingly instructional (in my mind) spiel, I would inevitably reach the final "That's all Folks" slide and my emotions would begin to swell at the thought that such a meaningful part of my life was about to end.
Many (most) men define themselves by what they do for a living. Indeed, historically, even our surnames were derived from our jobs: Shoemaker, Carpenter, even Smith (skilled-worker). Choosing to quit work under ANY circumstance would have been difficult for me. Now it is nearly intolerable.
I finally decided that I would only use the slide and make the announcement if I felt I was in a state of mind where I could say the words with strength, enthusiasm, and with a smile on my face. I made a gross miscalculation!
The meeting went well. I was prepared and had the self confidence that comes only from experience. As I finished the final topic I took measure of my self-control and made the decision to say the words out loud. The slide flashed onto the screen and I said, "This will be the last meeting that I'll attend." I continued as if my voice was coming from a place in me that could not feel. I explained that I had other things in my life that I needed to accomplish in the time I had left and closed with a "That's all Folks."
For a brief moment I thought I'd made it through the ordeal unscathed. I had never considered the impact my words would have on the men in the room. Some were more than co-workers. Some were friends. Some I had mentored, others I had coached through difficult times in their lives . One was my son.
One by one they came to me with hugs, handshakes, and halting words that I cannot recall. The floodgates opened. I turned and faced the wall lest they see their leader crumble.