Speak Your Possibility

Have you ever been to a conference or presentation where the speaker wraps up by inviting questions from the audience?

Despite typically having a mitt-full of questions, I must admit I’ve rarely had the chutzpah to take any of them up on the invitation. 

However, last week at the Rural Alberta Development Fund’s Blue Sky Conference I made the leap and stood up to ask a question because of a number of points made by the speaker, Eric Saperston, as he shared his story. Eric, a critically acclaimed film director, producer, and writer, spoke about the importance of “speaking your possibility”.  As he puts it, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.

Of course, as he points out, speaking your possibility is scary because no one wants to risk disapproval, judgment, or being ostracized.  Putting it out there also means you’ll be held responsible.

Anyway, Eric told a story about how after graduating from college in the early 70’s, he decided to follow his bliss by taking a year off. He bought a yellow Volkswagen bus, and set out with his dog Jack and best friend Dave to travel across the United States. The journey was mostly financed by the sale of his oddly named “sexy and kind grilled cheese sandwiches made with love” that he sold for a dollar a piece at highway rest stops.

Initially, the intent was simply to follow the Grateful Dead but when a teacher challenged him to make it a more meaningful year, the journey morphed into a four year odyssey. Figuring the best way to become what he was meant to be was to go and learn from those who had already succeeded, the plan was to “cold call” the nation’s most successful leaders, offer to buy them a cup of coffee, and pump them for their best advice about life and success. 

To the surprise of many, Saperston was able to snag interviews with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Texas Governor Ann Richards, Coca-Cola president Donald Keough, Bernie Marcus the founder of Home Depot, comedian Billy Crystal, and actor Henry (The Fonz) Winkler. 

He later turned the resulting hundreds of hours of video tape from these and many other interviews into his first feature film, called “The Journey” which won numerous film festival awards including “Most Memorable Film” at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. 

While Saperston’s specific journey isn’t for everyone, the core message is that what typically separates the doers from the dreamers is the ability to ask others for help. He suggests each of us should think about those we respect and admire in life and who have a career or lifestyle we’d most like to emulate.  From there he challenges us to identify five people in the world who have a dream or a lifestyle we admire, who have the type of relationship we want, or who have master over a particular skill set or ideology we’d like to learn.

Then, he says, it’s as simple as picking up the phone, knocking on their door, or sending them an email asking them if you could take them out for a cup of coffee.  The purpose of the visit would be to learn from their experiences, their values and struggles, and most importantly, the advice they’d give to someone like you.

According to him, all you have to do is ask people more knowledgeable than you how to get where you want to go. Then have the willingness to listen and apply their advice.

He also suggests that regardless of the size and complexity of one’s request, the universe always seem to respond in kind. That means the universe meets and matches your desire so if you ask small, you get small. If you ask big, you get big. 

Ultimately though he advises that life is about being fully self expressed and true to yourself. Or as he puts it, “Live on the edge by being completely you and letting your freak flag fly.”

And that’s why I decided to live a little more on the edge by standing up and asking Saperston for his best advice about how to take the video footage our team has shot during the course of our community building work and turn it into a documentary. It was a risk that paid off because in addition to giving me some good advice about how to get started with a 10-15 minute version that can be used to test interest in the concept, he agreed to review it when it’s done and provide notes.

So there you go. That’s how I spoke my possibility of wanting to produce a film.  Let the journey begin. 

Posted on 04-10-11


I fully believe that the saying that the universe will rise to meet you if you are going to throw something out there… make it worth it!  Thanks for the reminder, Brenda.  Can’t wait to see your film!

•Posted by Janet Naclia  on  04/11/11  at  10:58 AM


Brenda!  Thank you for two incredible quotes and your inspiration of how to embrace possibility.  I want tickets when your movie is ready!

•Posted by Michelle Greenwell  on  04/12/11  at  05:51 PM

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