There is a scene In the Avengers movie (2012) I absolutely love. In it, the Chitauri (aliens) were wreaking havoc in NYC and spreading pandemonium. After running through a barrage of obstacles and laser fire, Cap lands on top of a car in the middle of a group of cops who are obviously and understandably overwhelmed by the situation. He addresses the Sergeant and the ensuing conversation goes like this:
Captain America: You need men in these buildings. There are people inside and they’re going to be running right into the line of fire. You take them to the basements, or through the subway. You keep them off the streets. I need a perimeter as far back as 39th.
Police Sergeant: Why the hell should I take orders from you?
[The Chitauri attack. Cap blocks a blast with his shield, bats one Chitauri away with it, then blocks a point blank assault, punches another in the face, he grabs one of their weapons and then punches the Chitauri, flinging it across the street]
Police Sergeant: (to his staff) I need men in those buildings. Lead the people down and away from the streets. We’re going to set up a perimeter all the way down 39th Street.
In that scene, which got more than a few laughs in the theater, we are reminded that actions speak louder than words. Cap had to ‘prove’ he was worthy to be taken seriously before the police sergeant followed his orders. In the superhero community, if we only consider powers, Cap isn’t as impressive as most of his comrades. And yet, put him in a room with other superheroes and he’s the one they will all look up to for guidance and leadership – they listen to him. He has proven, time and again, that they should listen to him through his dedication, smarts, ability, and wisdom.
Most of us encounter the same reactions from our entourage when we try to be heard. Like you, there have been many times my voice just wasn’t heard because people just didn’t see my value or know about my track record. Often we are ignored by people who barely know us even if what we know could potentially change their lives. Like Brendon Burchard says: “Everybody is an expert at something.” We all have something at which we excel. In fact, research says that every person can do at least one thing better than 10,000 people. Of course, the trick is to convince those 10,000 of our expertise – and that doesn’t come easy.
The Apostle Paul, for one, faced that challenge. He was facing detractors of his apostleship and, against his better judgement, resorted to listing his credentials as to why they should listen to him as an apostle. Then he wrote the following lines:
“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, inperils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” (II Corinthians 11: 22-31)
Like Paul and Captain America, I too have been believed to be less than I am. I too have been plagued with self-doubt when people openly doubted my ability or dismissed my competence. You see, I come from a blue collar background. People who have worked with me and known me for the last 15 years have some serious doubts concerning my new ‘career’ as a speaker and author. I can’t say that I blame them. Nevertheless, they never saw the whole of me either. They didn’t know that:
- I overcame bullying in elementary and high school
- I overcame moving 13 times by the time I was 14 years old
- I overcame my parent’s two divorces
- I overcame severe depression in my twenties
- I read hundreds of books on personal development, theology, and psychology
- I overcame the death of my own child
I could go on, but I think you get the point. These are some of my qualifiers as a speaker and author. What qualifies us as experts is not only the skills we have acquired, but the obstacles that we have overcome to get there as well.
So, what qualifies you as an expert? What sets you apart? What skills, abilities, and gifts do you possess? What have you overcome? And most of all…
Why should anyone listen to YOU?
If you can answer this simple question, you are well on your way to being a person of significance – an expert. Remember, at least 10,000 people are waiting for your expertise. Bring it!