January 27, 2013

Shape the Talk


Heroes from the other side of the screen

Back in the day, did you dream of being a super hero? Now, all you would need to make it come true would be a CGI Team, an impossible life-threatening challenge, people to save, and a secret stash of supernatural skills. So, being a super hero is off the table, right?

Do you recognize these names: Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, Lara Croft, Cole MacGrath, Clark Kent, Peter Parker? These heroic characters span generations. They are iconic comic book, big screen, video game, characters—they never have been and never will be real.

You, on the other hand, are real. You live on this side of the screen and you are not a super hero, you CAN be a real-world hero. The hero dream CAN come true. Real-world heroes don’t have supernatural skills or make-believe graphics, but they do have courage…the courage to take responsibility…the courage to be the adult in the room, to get out of the shallows and into the deep.

Be the hero

I was well into my twenties before I referred to myself as an adult. It sounded so over-the-hill. I assumed adults settled down and lived like… well like boring adults. From the beginning of our teen years, we pushed headlong into a rush for adulthood. Then, when we arrive, we find it, less attractive, fuzzier, and more elusive, than expected. When do we arrive, anyway?

Being adult is complicated. Even the best plans have holes in them. It doesn’t take long to realize that even adults still need heroes.

I like the Jimmy Buffett song, “I’m growing older, but not up.” How about you?

Truth is, once we reach that sought after comfort zone, life happens. Disasters, tragedies, traumas, hardships, challenges, and setbacks, fall out of the sky…sometimes in sets of three. So, when an impossible life-threatening challenge falls right in our lap, what do you do?

This is where grownups become heroes and wimps become victims. I know, you are not a superhero, but a long time ago God stuck the gift of courage inside you and that gift longs to be unwrapped. Heroes step up with courage and character. Wimps step back and pack it in. You are not a wimp. Unwrap the gift.

Mixed messages about character are everywhere. We say one thing and do another, while a large number of young adults whiz through life clueless. From their perspective, life is cool, way cool. If for a moment it’s not cool, it’s not their fault. They may be immature, selfish, and disrespectful, but they are way cool. For them cool is it. That gift of courage is in them too.

Even the cool adults are open to talk about courage. And, talk about courage always leads to a deeper discussion of character. So we start with talk. Dump the cynicism, sarcasm, and divisiveness. Choose new talking points. All the celebrity rumors, local gossip, and the overnight rants are getting boring, anyway.

The Shape the Talk Initiative is a grassroots effort to interject courage into the national conversation, one talk at a time.



Start here

The dare: Curious Conversations

Join us in being part of the “Shape the Talk” launch team. Consider it a call to action, a dare, a triple-dog-dare: Instigate courage as a topic of everyday conversation. Choose a topic a day…and be a hero.

If we want things to be different, we have to talk different.


Shape the Talk

Take charge of what you talk about… take the conversation into the grownup world. Ask great questions…about courage (these questions will point to character). Hear this clearly! The goal is to LISTEN…discover what’s on the mind of people around you. Show you care…that you want to listen…that you want to keep learning.

Conversation Structure

1. Ask provocative questions (no preaching, correcting, or condemning)
2. Listen to understand
3. Confess a struggle of your own with the topic
4. Express thanks …for the conversation.

Talking Points (10 Topics with sample questions)

It all starts with courage. It takes courage for any of these character traits to become part of everyday life. The following questions are only starting points. The context will always determine the most effective wording.
Respect—How do you know if someone respects you?

Honesty—It seems to me that some people are more difficult to be honest with than others. Does it seem that way to you too?

Kindness—What happens when you see someone being kind and helpful to someone else? Is it infectious?

Responsibility—What is it that keeps people from accepting responsibility for their own actions? What encourages people to be responsible?

Honor—When was the last time you did something to honor another person? Has anyone ever honored you?

Generosity—People say it is better to give, than to receive. If so, why aren’t there more givers?

Humor—What’s the difference between laughing at others and laughing at ourselves? Why is a sense of humor important to us?

Sacrifice—I’ve heard about sacrifice in the military, but what does it look like in the civilian world? Is sacrifice sort of out-of-date?

Gratitude—If you were asked to talk to a 10 year-old about gratitude, what would you say? Who is the most thankful person you know?

Tenacity—Some people really have problems with tenacity over the long haul, some don’t. What helps people be tenacious? Who do you know that is really tenacious?

Conversation Context

Suggested places to introduce the courage conversation.

  • Mealtime
  • Walk and talk
  • Shopping
  • Breaktimes
  • Car talks
  • Airplane talks
  • Campfire talks
  • Bedtime talks
  • Coffee shop talks
  • Fishing talks

Take the dare… accept the call…be the hero

Use the contact form to sign on:

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One Comment On “Shape the Talk”

  1. Brilliant concept great suggestions and really looking forward to taking the Super Hero Challenge and being involved connected and committed Blessings MUCH

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