Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What's your Iron Man?

I sat captivated in an audience a few weeks ago watching a speaker give a presentation. Being a speaker myself I often find myself watching other speakers in two ways, firstly of course to hear their story but also to pick up tips on presentation skills.

I had no time to pick up presentation skills while watching this speaker because for around 45 minutes I was completely drawn into her world. A world I’d never thought about before. In her world 5 years before she couldn’t swim – and yet set herself the goal to compete in the grueling world of Iron Man.

I too am not the greatest swimmer so I journeyed with her in my mind when she spoke of having to go to a class with 5 year olds to learn to swim. I felt her pain when she spoke of her toenails falling off after competing in the Iron Man and my heart swelled when she repeated the words said to her on the loudspeaker as she crossed her first finish line “Susan Casey you are an Iron Man”.

Susan Casey isn’t a professional speaker (despite being utterly engaging.) To me that was one of the things that was so great about her presentation. Here was a real person telling a real story aptly titled “Ordinary people doing Extraordinary things.”

At the end of her presentation she opened for questions and the last comment from an audience member left a bad taste in my mouth. The question asked was “isn’t it bad for your body?” Now I think this is a great question – Iron Man does really harsh things to the human body! After getting the answer, the audience member then disappointingly said to the entire group “I don’t know why anyone would bother!”

To me, she missed the entire point of the talk. Here was a normal person just like any of us in the audience who had set her mind on achieving something great, something only a tiny percentage of the population would ever achieve and she did it despite the difficulty.

This speaker wasn’t talking about persuading everyone to do Iron Man. She was clearly showing us all that whatever our goals and however much sacrifice and determination is needed for us to achieve them – we could do it if we put our minds to it and applied the principles she was talking about.

I felt sad that this person in the audience didn’t get the same message as me. They chose to see simply the first layer of her presentation and not to see how that message could transform their lives and everyone’s in that room.

What’s your Iron Man and how far are you willing to go to achieve it?

By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment


The Iron Man Mark 3 collectible figure was deemed a necessary object after the Iron Man movie. It has over 36 points of articulation and has a metallic paint job.

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