As the presidential candidates continue to jockey for position and ask for the public’s permission to hold the highest office in the land, it got me thinking of the time I sat down for a fireside chat with the 39th President of the United States. People always ask if its easy to gain trust and get access to the most extraordinary people on the planet? I tell them, easy, not so much! To get President Carter to sit down with me took 3 months of calling his press secretary every few days, pleading my desire to make our conversation a reality and not taking the countless times she said ‘NO’, personally. I just kept calling, each time with better bad jokes, new updates from my adventures and more refined reasons why the two of us were destined to meet. After 90 days of persistence, tenacity and dogged-determination, they finally agreed to give me 20 minutes between a CNN interview and him flying off to Guyana.
Before I graveled and begged for this opportunity to present itself, I had the good fortune to hear President Carter give a speech at Emory University. The President of Emory introduced Carter to the crowd by saying, “Ladies and gentleman I’d like to introduce you to the former President of the United States Mr. Jimmy Carter, the only man who’s ever used the Presidency as a stepping stone to greater things.”
During our interview I asked President Carter, “From your perspective, what’s one thing you really want the rest of us to know? He answered, “When you look around at the world, politics, and the role you play in it, its easy to become disillusioned, cynical and resigned. Please do not do that. We need you, your voice, ideas, insights and solutions for a better world.” He said with unequivocal resoluteness, “Never underestimate the power of the individual to make a difference.” He paused, looked me right in the eyes and then continued, “You are powerful. We all are. Not just some of us. ALL of us are powerful. We just have to believe we are. It only takes one person to courageously make a stand, one person to speak out against an injustice, one person to ignite a movement. It just takes one human being to believe in a possibility larger than himself, to enroll others into that possibility and act upon those beliefs to change the world, nation, state, neighborhood, family and even themselves forever.”
People who live extraordinary lives are people who understand the power that they hold and won’t allow themselves to be deterred from their path when they know that something must be done. After interviewing and learning from hundreds of top leaders in a wide range of disciplines, I’ve come to respect and appreciate that extraordinary behavior, acts of bravery and profound contribution, on a global scale and in the privacy of one’s own home, all happen one step at a time.
Remember, life’s a journey… Live In Wonder!
Eric & The Team