June 26, 2019

Seek Significance – Not the Standing Ovation

I’m pleased to announce that I have NOT been awarded anything lately. I’m not in the Top Ten of any list. I am not a #1 Best Selling Author. I am not the world’s top sales or leadership coach. I have not won any meaningful awards and do not have a lot of designations after my name. Accolades and accreditation have never been goals of mine.

Heck, I dropped out of college at 19 to be an actor. I hitchhiked from Chicago to Hollywood with $200 in my pocket and was able to make a fresh start in a new place without money, contacts or resources. The only resource I could draw from was my belief in myself.  After 13 years and some modest success acting in TV, movies and on stage, I left with my tail between my legs. Hollywood beat me down.

But I am resilient. I’m a Chicago kid who learned to work hard, long hours and to get back up when I got knocked down. Like many of you reading this, I just keep trying. If one thing didn’t work, I tried something else. And so, I moved to Colorado Springs and began again. I became a Realtor and helped people find their home, their nest. It was an honorable career choice. Real estate was always an interim professional for me. 

Even though I left professional acting behind, I never stopped being an actor. I’m a performer, an entertainer, a communicator. I have something to say. Can you relate?

Then I discovered professional speaking and my life has been on an upward trajectory ever since. I’d find myself delivering a keynote speech in front of 800 people and suddenly it dawned on me, I was performing a one-man show. It wasn’t in a theater, but it was a form of theater. I was on stage. I had an audience. And I had written, produced and starred in my own play. Only now it was called a keynote speech. Amazing!

The most important moment in my life however, was not a career achievement. It was when I proposed to Deborah Merriman and she said YES. That was the pinnacle of success for me. We just celebrated our 25th anniversary in June, 2019.

I am no longer driven to prove that I am worthy. I don’t need an award or certificate to lift me up. I’ve made a full-time living speaking and teaching storytelling for over 24 years. As an actor, I acted inside someone else’s story. I played my part and said my lines. Now, I tell my own stories. I am the author of my own play. I get to use my acting chops in a new way and by golly, I get paid well to do it.

I get hired to speak or conduct a training more than enough and every once in a while, I get a standing ovation. More often than not, people stay seated when I’m finished. That’s because I wasn’t there to be celebrated. I wasn’t going for the standing O. I was there to help them, to serve them, to make them think and feel differently. I was there for them, not for me.

I share my wisdom through my stories. They are my gifts, the songs that I sing that make people think, feel and smile. My life has come full circle. I am where I started out to be, only better. Every failure has led to a new beginning. I have lived a life of significance. There will be no Academy Award on my mantle. No worries mate.

My reward, if there is once, is in hearing from one of my students or audience members many years after we met. They tell me that I have made a difference in their life. They share with me that I have helped them to tell their story and that it is making a difference for THEIR audiences.  

My reward is to be happy on a daily basis and know that I am providing value with my words and deeds. I do my best with what I’ve got. It is enough. I’m #1 with Deborah. My grand kids give me wonderful hugs. I love completely and am loved in return.

At the tail end of your life, you will tire of the striving for accomplishment and settle into the warm cuddly present. Know this, what is yours will find you. Regardless of your age, you’ve already done enough. Take a deep breath. Breathe in the perfection that is all around you.

You are loved. You are respected. you are worthy.


Doug Stevenson is the author of Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Method and is an internationally recognized speaker and trainer on strategic storytelling for leadership, sales and marketing. For over 20 years has has taught the science of the art of storytelling in 18 countries. His clients include Google, Verizon, Coca Cola, NBC, Deloitte, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Pfizer, Con Agra Foods, Caterpillar, Microsoft, SAP, Wells Fargo, US Bank, USAA, Aetna, Lockheed Martin, The American Education Assn, The National Association of Realtors, The American Medical Association, Rockwell Collins, Junior Achievement, Amgen, AAA, Oracle University, Red Bull, Deco Proteste, Asurion, Medstar Hospitals and hundreds of associations and non-profits.

Contact Doug at 1-719-310-8586 or email: [email protected]. Visit his website at: www.storytelling-in-business.com.


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