Advice about ovations from Doug Stevenson

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post by Doug Stevenson….

Are you the type of writer who craves recognition — beyond, that is, the admitted thrill of seeing your byline on a piece of writing?

If you are, I suggest you read an excellent blog post by Doug Stevenson. Under the headline, “Seek Significance — Not the Standing Ovation,” Stevenson — an internationally recognized speaker and trainer — tells the story of his life with a healthy dose of modesty.

Here is how he puts 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.”

Stevenson started his working life as an actor but left the profession after achieving only “modest” success in TV and movies. He discovered professional speaking almost by accident but has since carved out a long-term and highly successful career training the folks at Microsoft, Pfizer and UPS, among many others.

I’ve long admired Doug Stevenson and his excellent book, Story Theater Method, has a place of honour on my bookshelves.

If you want to become a better speaker, get Stevenson’s book and learn from the many tips he provides. But if you want to become a more satisfied writer, emulate his style. Your success depends not on what others say about you, but on how much you can help them achieve their goals.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on July 1/19.

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