A Simple, Radical Act

When my alma mater, Conestoga Senior High School, asked me to speak with students and parents about service and leadership, I figured the small gathering would be a great space to road-test some new ideas.

And I decided to go for broke.

I would focus my message on parents, lead with the hardest stuff (ie: school shootings, Internet trolling, iPhone addiction), and address the artificiality of contemporary Western culture head-on. And I would bookend the speech with what felt like a radical piece of audience participation.

When I pulled into the parking lot, nearly every spot was full. Inside, the lobby was overflowing. “This is a big night,” the principal said, pumping my fist. “The auditorium is full!”

After a quick tour of the school and a luminous introduction, I climbed onto the stage where I performed some of my first rock shows and musicals, and took a deep breath.

“Before I begin,” I said, “I want to encourage you to put down your phone and feel your feet resting on the ground. Feel your heart beating in your chest.”

What did I say next? And how did it go over?

Listen to the rest of the story and the full speech on the “Friends & Neighbors” podcast on Apple (bit.ly/3Voa20W) or Spotify (bit.ly/3TEsduX) now.

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