Happy-Go-Lucky Charms

I love recording and catching Jeopardy! when I can. I take the question answering pretty seriously. I’m competitive with myself. Many times a category can be above my head. I might ace three categories and then miss a bunch of questions in another. If I can get the Final Jeopardy! right, then shoot that’s exciting.

It’s a lovely indulgence, though the real insight for me is when Alex Trebek asks the contestants that ONE personal question. It’s about halfway through the show after the first commercial break. You know the one. It’s that almost always awkward moment where they’re supposed to tell an interesting story about themselves—with very little context—in 30 seconds or less.

Stories of how they couldn’t break the pinata at their mother-in-law’s house, or how they proposed to their partner…

What fascinates me most about the Jeopardy interviews is how I’m feeling afterward.

I’m sure it’s the producer’s intent to build intrigue, but I want to feel the contestants’ happiness and what makes their spirit soar!

Instead, I’m stumped.

Rarely in the Jeopardy interviews is a response of adventure or something inspirational. Often contestants want to be unique in a clever way. It’s all about an interesting story, however there’s a subtle line between intriguing and interesting. Though I can imagine how it must feel to come up with something you find interesting about yourself when you’re about to be on T.V. and are already nervous and under pressure!

If you had one chance to tell a fascinating and short story about yourself, to say something for someone to remember you by, or to make a difference to a national audience in 30 seconds or less, what would it be?

Would you say something uplifting? Or tell a tale of how things were going south, and then you got lucky? Is it an inspirational charm, a momentary lesson, a teachable moment? It has to be quick though, so it’s tricky.

Happy-go-lucky charms. A good belly laugh for all.

An old friend once told me that too many people are trying to be clever. That we miss out on each other’s meaning and messages when they’re hidden by jargon and rhetoric, or repeated attempts at humor.

When we hear someone speak with thoughtful words and in short and clear sentences, we listen. We understand. We are touched—and therefore transformed.

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Generally, the more words we use to say something, the less power those words have. I learned this very recently in preparation for an Ignite-style presentation at the Dent conference. I was told I had 5 minutes on stage. FIVE MINUTES. To talk about EVERYTHING.

I wrote the speech and gave it to Kristen to copy edit. She passed it back to me. I cut some out and added some more. She edited it again. I practiced it and timed it out (more than you can imagine), then trimmed the fat some more. I tried it out on everyone from my cohorts at the dry cleaner, to my close friends and family, to professionals who had given their fair share of speeches in front of a large audience.

This was no small feat! But the more Kristen and I deconstructed the presentation down to those 5 minutes, the more authentic—and obvious—the message became.

If you have to try to be clever, then you’re not being authentic.

We are moved by authentic people. They are intriguing and interesting. Similarly, being authentically interested in them, makes us interesting to them. Authenticity is just plain charming! We know it when we see it, too. And it feels GOOD. It feels true. It feels like something real.

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We don’t become more authentic by trying to be more authentic, but instead by removing all the other stuff—the clever, the canned, the compromising, the concocted, the cool—that hide who we really are. When we trim away the excess, we’re left with the essence.

Take a minute to think about all of those things in your life that are truly meaningful. Remember the feeling you had the last time you felt humble and grateful for the people or things in your life. Remember that time when someone asked you a question and you heard yourself answer with something that made so much sense that even you wondered where you came up with it. Remember an unexpected and challenging time when you were compelled to keep moving forward with courage and a firm belief. It’s in these meaningful moments where you’ll find true authenticity.

Follow what feels good and follow what makes you feel alive. Nourish this essence, whether that is through art, music, poetry, photography, cooking, running, gardening, reading a book, or simply appreciating the beauty of the moment. Just be YOU. And when you do, you will strengthen your heart.

Now that’s interesting.