Last week in San Diego, I spoke to a group of high school students about developing leadership skills when a friend or family member becomes ill.  High school students are NOT easily moved by personal stories because they live in a digital age where human to human communication is minimized. However, after my talk, a crowd gathered around me to express their gratitude.  They were moved by my story.  During my presentation, one student appeared quite distracted and fidgety  – I did not think he was getting much out of it.  After the lecture, he was the first to approach me and disclose he had Tourette’s Syndrome, thanking me saying, “Your story meant a lot to me.  It helped me understand mine.”

In between presentations, I went to get a drink of water.  I saw a student being consoled by the principal – she and her four friends were crying.  The principal shared that the student’s father was battling late stage brain cancer.  I was put on the spot to say something comforting, wishing I knew this student’s situation before I began my talk.  After giving her a hug, I commented, “Never lose hope.”  I asked if her father was strong. She shook her head in the affirmative.  I said, “He is giving you a gift and you should embrace it – the gift of strength and courage. He is giving this gift to your friends too.”