Turning Points

I had an opportunity to speak at my high schools alumni banquet this past weekend with a classmate, Kristina.  The topic was on turning points and how South Putnam aided in shaping my life.  I thought I’d share as encouragement to others.

“Kristina and I truly appreciate the opportunity to be here on behalf of the Class of 1987.  We truly appreciate the efforts of the Alumni committee and mission behind South Putnam Community Education Foundation to provide Scholarships and Teacher Grants to promote education in the community.  I know they appreciate each and every one of you for being here this evening.  So, thank for your commitment to be here.

You know, when Anita contacted Kristina and I and asked us to speak, we both were honored; however, it was a bit difficult to decide what we would talk about this evening.  As I am sure many folks in this room can related, it’s sometime hard to remember what I did yesterday let alone 25 years ago.  That being said, we thought we would share a little bit about ourselves and how we believe South Putnam has shaped our lives.

Before we do this however, I want to take a couple minutes and ask you a question.  I get the opportunity to work with leaders and their teams on a regular basis.  One of the questions we often ask people is to identify turning points in their lives.  Generally speaking, as you look back on life you can see key positive and negative turning points that shape who you are today.  So, I’d like each of you to take a minute and reflect upon 3-5 turning points which have happened in your life.  PAUSE

OK, hopefully, everyone has a few of these turning points on your mind.  Now, I’m not going to ask for a show of hand, however, I am willing to bet that there is a high percentage of people in the room who identified at least one turning point which happen in your high school years.  When performing this exercise in training, I often share that two of my turning points are represented by rings on my fingers, my marriage & a state championship football ring, both of which occurred during high school.  An additional turning point which occurred in my high school years was a decision to follow Jesus Christ.  I could likely talk the entire time on any of these three turning points and tell you how they have shaped my life, however, we don’t have time for that and my primary point is that my time at SPHS was transformational.

For this evening, I would like to spend a few minutes talking about our State Championship in Football.  As some may recall, I had the privilege of being the quarterback.  For me, this opportunity was a pivotal moment in my life.  It was at this point in my life that I truly started to understand leadership and teamwork which has now become my life work.  It was also at this point I discovered how life can be only a matter of inches and how one play can change the game.

Let me ask you something.  How many of you remember the state championship?  (HANDS) Quit a few of us in the room right.  Clearly, it was a very memorable experience for which if you were in my office you’d see that out of all the plagues and honors I’ve had over the past 25 years, the state championship is the primary thing I chose to display.

Now, let me ask you another question.  How many of you remember the year prior to the state championship in the semi-state late in the game on 4th down when the snap went over the punters head.  (HANDS) Not so many.  Let me take you back just a bit.  Brian was the long snapper, Greg was the punter, however, Greg was injured which called for the backup punter to come in.  For those of you who remember Greg, you’d likely recall that he was about 6’ 4” and the backup punter was only around 6’.  Just a few inches shorter which were just enough to allow for the snap to go off the finger tips of the backup punter.  As the ball goes off the finger tips, he turns to go pick up the ball.  Being a quarterback he looks down field finds, finds an open man, throws it, the ball is catch, it looks like it may be a first down and then it happened.  Yellow flags, anyone want to guess was the call was?  Illegal man down field leading to our turning the ball over and setting up the game winning touchdown for Eastern Hancock.  Anyone want to guess who the backup punter was?  Yes, you’re looking at him, Chris Arnold.

So, why would I bring this up?  Well, it’s at that point, that I discovered one play can change a game and life is sometimes a matter of only a few inches.  Being the one who “cost us” a state championship in 1985, if we hadn’t turned around and won a state championship in 1986, where to you think Chris Arnold would be today.  As it is, the education and experiences I received at South Putnam have led me on a journey which has allowed me to:

  • Graduate from Rose-Hulman in 1991 with a  Mechanical Engineering degree
  • Hold several key leadership positions in multi-millons dollar corporations
  • Marry my high school sweetheart and raising two children ages 16 & 14.
  • Start my own coaching and consulting business focused at Equipping Leaders for Life.
  • Mentor high school students and young adult through organizations like, Traders Point Christian Church, Truth@Work, and others.
  • And a list of several other opportunities which we don’t have time for this evening.

While I highlight many of the success in life, I would also say there have been multiple challenges in the journey, like that punt in 1985.  So, I hope this has been a bit of an encouragement to you this evening and you were able to reflect on some of those key turning point in your life.

(After Chris shares his key points, Kristina says)

“O.k. Chris, but how does this tie to the reason we are here this evening?”

(Chris finishes)

Well, Kristina, as we’ve talked, it’s because people like the Alumni committee and folks in this room back 25+ years ago had the vision and commitment to develop the best educational experience they could for kids like you and I.  It’s not about having the top rated schools in the state, it about providing kids like Kristina , Chris, and a cast of thousands an opportunity to experience turning points in their lives that will transform them into the leaders God has called them to be.

So, that’s a bit of my story and my passion around why we’re here tonight.  Let’s here a bit from your prospective, Kristina.”

One response to “Turning Points”

  1. […] of my favorite conversations to have with people as well as enjoy speaking is regarding “turning points” or “defining moments” in one’s life.  I generally challenge people to identify […]

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