What color is YOUR lamp?
The room fell silent as we thought through our day. It had been a grueling ten-hour day at the Inner Negotiation Workshop with another day to go. This personal development seminar, held both in the United States and Holland by the Motivation Management Service Institute, Inc., promised to give us clarity about our objectives in life. The workshop was based on Cherie Carter-Scott’s books such as Negaholics and If Life is a Game, These are the Rules. I wanted to attend to find out what my rules were. My objective was to determine whether I really was cut out to be a motivational speaker. The seminar leader, Lynn Stewart, told us that “night school” would begin the moment we went to sleep.
“Keep a notebook by your bed,” Lynn suggested. “You will get a clear message tonight, and you’ll want to be able to remember it in the morning.”
Being an obedient student (I always follow the rules), I did what she asked. I didn’t really think I would get a single clear message, and I was so tired I was sure I would be in a coma until the following morning.
A few hours later I dreamt of beautiful lamps. Not the kind that illuminates, but similar to the turrets on an Arabian mosque. One was blue, another a rose color and a third was green. They were made of clay with swirls that looked like ocean waves. The message in my mind was clear.
“Ask them about lamps. What color is your lamp?”
I found it to be a very odd message indeed and wondered if it might have something to do with inner light. Satisfied, I wrote the brief message in the dark after I fumbled for the pen and paper at my bedside. What seemed like only a minute later, I heard an even louder voice. This one was not accompanied by a mental image, but I did see the words splash across my inner eye.
“FINDING YOUR PASSION” it shouted at me. I bolted upright in bed. Once again I fumbled for the pen and quickly wrote down the message. Thinking I was home-free, I flopped back down again onto my still-warm pillow. But the barking voice wasn’t finished with me yet. It held its space audibly in my mind. Sighing, I flipped on the light. For the next hour, I proceeded to write a three-page motivational speech on how to find what makes you on fire. I inserted personal vignettes and professional advice on what works and what doesn’t. It felt smooth. It felt good. It felt powerful. Above all else, it felt authentic. It was an experience beyond the usual. Normally, when faced with a difficult conversation or presentation, we hold it in our minds, and it goes really well. But when the time comes to actually have that talk, things don’t go as well as you planned. It was different this time.
In the middle of the night, in the middle of Holland, I gave the most eloquent presentation of my career. The voice wouldn’t let me rest until I had at least spoken my words out loud. And so I did. Right there in my bed at a quarter past two.
The next morning, I shuffled my papers and scuffed my feet to and fro. Would I really have to follow this ridiculous inner voice and ask people the color of their lamps? Would I have to give the presentation that had seemed so very real to me in the middle of the night? Knowing I would only find the answers if I followed its lead, I also knew I had to.
The workshop participants were generous. They each told me they had a different colored lamp inside. Mine was blue while others had a mixture of hues. It became apparent at that moment that my question was valid. We all have a light. We all have a voice.
I had shared my nocturnal experience with Lynn, so she was prepared to prod me into my presentation next. I was very nervous, having given a factual presentation the day before which bored people out of their chairs. They remarked that I had hidden behind information. Why not give it a try and show them my true self, they inquired. Because that would involve taking a risk. Show them my true self? What a thought!
It didn’t take long to realize they were right. So I held my notes close, but I didn’t really look at them. I glanced around the room and saw not a sea of faces, but a group of people just like me who sometimes slept badly, who had visions and dreams, who had power and an inner strength that was dying to come out.
I proceeded to ask each and everyone if they would join me on a journey. They agreed. I told them the story of how I became a writer and how my inner fire grew despite the twists and turns of Fate. I told them what imagination can bring to their lives as it did mine. I told them that inner fire needs feeding and that we all have a right to let it be known. They sat at the edge of their seats as I relayed the power of the imagination and at the end they applauded.
As I sat down, my inner lamp glowed with the most glorious blue I’d ever “felt”. How ever my motivational speaking career unfolds, I now know what the color of my lamp is to lead the way.
What color is YOUR lamp, dear Reader? Do you know?
*Editor’s note: I wrote this piece in 2005. While I did not become a public speaker, I have since found my voice. And the lamp? It still shines brighter than ever.