How I Realized My Story Changes Lives
by Clint Rogers
I’ve always known words have power.
I remember one day, when I was new in high school, awkwardly sitting down at a table in the busy lunchroom with some kids I respected but did not know well. Because I was so shy, I just sat quietly, never having the confidence to engage in conversation. They made jokes I did not find funny, so I didn’t laugh.
Halfway through my sandwich, I remember one of the kids saying in a voice of semi-disgust, “Rogers, why are you even sitting here? You don’t belong.”
My face flushed red, and in my shock, I found nothing to say back. I slowly packed up my open bag of chips, the rest of my lunch, and walked away.
Those words must have had a power, because from then on, I never returned to the lunchroom, always eating in a hallway, joining some foreign exchange students and kids from choir who also felt out of place.
I’ll also never forget the words of my father when I was 8 years old and saw the flashing-colored lights outside our front door window.
My father looked heartbroken as he motioned for me to join my brothers and sisters, who were huddled together in tears. He struggled through his own tears to speak. “Your oldest sister Denise is gone,” he said. “We just found her in the garage. She took her own life.”
She was 21 years old. It was Valentine’s Day.
It was a very young age to face death at all, much less one that sprang from hopelessness and depression. As a boy I couldn’t really understand the impact of his words, that moment. Knowingly or unknowingly, much of my life since has been spent trying to make sense of what it meant.
In my guilt and sorrow, I always wondered if maybe there was something I could have said to my sister, perhaps some words which may have saved her and made her want to live? I desperately wanted the impossible, to turn back time so I could hold her in my arms and say, “I love you.”
Then, about the time I turned 21, I had a sobering realization I was a lot like my sister. After receiving a series of hurtful words from others that I amplified in my own mind and heart, I got caught up in very dark, depressive thoughts, wondering if my life even mattered or was worth living.
There must be moments for everyone when difficult or harsh words leave wounds in our fragile minds and hearts. Over time, if unattended, they can fester or perhaps get buried under layers of masks as we try to distance ourselves from the tender pain. Even if hidden, however, the wounds remain.
And then, if we are lucky, there also may be magical moments when we encounter special people who touch us deeply with the power of healing words.
The undeniable power of these types of words became evident to me, in one of the most unexpected places—Philadelphia.
Sitting in the seminar room of the Springfield Country Club, surrounded by brilliant people and feeling inadequate myself, I listened to a man conducting the meeting who I had just become acquainted with—Steve Harrison.
Steve Harrison made me realize I had a life-changing message worth sharing
I had been working on writing a book for more than five years, with very little progress.
I knew the message of the book was very important and had collected a lot of material for it, but somehow, I felt stuck, overwhelmed. And I didn’t know exactly why. Honestly, I wondered if I would ever complete the book at all.
Then I received a call from Joe (a member of Steve’s staff) telling me about a meeting two days later in Philadelphia that sounded like it might help me. I trusted my gut, rescheduled everything else, and went.
My first impression was the kindness of the staff. Rose greeted me, saying she would be my liaison with any coach whenever I needed it, and made me feel very welcome.
But as people began introducing themselves so articulately, describing their passions and their projects, the discomfort I kept submerged of my own sense of inadequacy began churning. I again wondered if this is where I should be, if I belonged here at all.
Then, almost as an aside to the main point of the meeting, Steve decided to take us through an exercise that confronted a very deep part of me.
Steve asked us to identify any belief we might have which was limiting us, and then to look at alternatives to it we might not yet be considering.
At first, I resisted. I wondered why we were doing this. Weren’t we supposed to be learning about how to write and promote books? What did this have to do with anything?
Then, as I allowed the question to sink in, I was surprised by my reaction.
Quiet tears came to my eyes. Part of why it was difficult for me to complete my book was because I was writing it in the first person, and I couldn’t get past the feeling that no one would really care to hear about me or my experiences.
Steve asked if anyone wanted to share what they discovered, and I squirmed in my seat. I was relieved to see other people raise their hands. The last thing I wanted to do was make my fear public.
Then, for whatever reason, right before the time ended, Steve called on me to share. Very hesitantly, I made the difficult choice to open my heart and share honestly what I felt. I said I did not think my story mattered.
Steve thanked me for sharing, and then he paused.
Despite my discomfort and very vulnerable feeling in that moment, or perhaps to honor it, Steve probed further. Like a surgeon opening a festering wound, he asked me a series of questions:
“Clint, may I ask, have you ever shared your story with anyone?”
As I thought about some of the people I had shared it with, I answered, “Yes.”
“And from their reaction, would you say they enjoyed it?” Steve asked.
“Would you say they benefited from it? That it helped them in some way?”
“Could you say that it changed their lives?”
I thought for a moment, but quickly realized the answer. “Yes,” I said.
“Would you agree, then, that it is a lie to believe that your story doesn’t matter, when the truth is you have a story, Clint, that changes people’s lives?”
The honest, but surprising answer to me was, “Yes.”
I sat down, bewildered. As the power and truth of his words sunk in, it felt almost like a bright light broke through, illuminated and warmed a section of my heart that had been dark and cold for a long time.
“I have a story that changes people’s lives?!”
I kept repeating it to myself, over and over again, sometimes as a question, and other times as a statement, a little in shock and a lot in awe.
If I had to pick one thing this program has done to help me make a Quantum Leap, it has been to show me the incredible power words can have to help create hope and healing, add perspective, and help persuade and inspire, both myself and others, to good.
This moment of only a few minutes and few words with Steve shifted my whole world and perspective of myself and what I was doing.
Quantum Leap coaches helped me move forward, step by step, toward success
For the rest of that event, and then in the coaching calls I set up immediately the day after, I felt an opening in me that was so refreshing.
Instead of being shy, I eagerly sought feedback from these caring and competent people on how to help me better share and promote this story, that I now knew changes people’s lives.
In each call with a coach I took copious notes, asked for homework, and was eager to work on and internalize whatever they shared with me. And I could immediately tell the very practical guidance they gave me was helping me craft words that would have more impact and power.
Within a few calls, coaches Geoffrey and Jason walked me through understanding my own story so much better I redrafted the last third of my manuscript, making it one hundred times stronger. Geoffrey skillfully helped me refine my story to the core essence, making it clearer “why” it was so important to me.
He then showed me how, with this clarity, my personal story could be shared in a short two-minute introduction on a radio spot, lengthened into a two-hour presentation, or extended over a two-day workshop.
During this same time, Martha read all the chapters and helped me look at the effectiveness of my book title, subtitle, and chapter titles to see if they were capturing maximum interest. I realized that they were not and engaged in a process of refining and testing them with lots of people, according to her helpful feedback.
In subsequent meetings I met other fantastic coaches whose expertise helped me to improve the impact and power of my words:
I was continually amazed by how so many incredible coaches and resources were together under the umbrella of the support system Steve and Bill Harrison had created for people like me.
Even though I have never even met Bill, I started to develop a keen sense of gratitude for him and anyone associated with Quantum Leap who had contributed to creating this program to offer people like me such world-class support and growth.
My Fellow Quantum Leap Members Encouraged Me
Unexpectedly, I had over 69 fellow members of Quantum Leap come up to me in various meetings I attended, offering to read and give me feedback on my book. Their requests touched my heart, coming from people so busy with their own books and projects.
And their feedback made an immense impact.
Two of the people who read my entire manuscript helped me realize I had actually written more than one book. Although initially difficult to hear, this feedback turned into one of the biggest blessings, as I reconstructed everything.
I cut the entire first book in half, making it much more focused, accessible, and compelling. It also gave me a jump-start on a second book, realizing I have most of it written already! So helpful.
I was so impressed by the caring support offered by a community which began to feel like a family.
As I have been invited to speak at many events, on radio, and TV, thanks to what I learned at Quantum Leap, I could tell it was now a lot easier to share the story in my heart in a way that engaged others, touched their hearts, and persuaded them to take action.
What before were incredibly stressful moments, speaking and writing, I now enjoyed a great deal. And I knew other people’s lives who listened to or read my story were better off, because of what I had learned from Quantum Leap coaches and resources.
The Moment of Truth – Meeting with Jack Canfield about my book
The real moment of truth for me came during a coaching call with Geoffrey.
I tried to explain my nerves, and asked how I could best be served and of service in an incredible opportunity I did not think I was ready for.
“Don’t worry, I’ve been there,” he said. “I know what you are experiencing, I can walk you through what is about to happen, and why I think you will be great at it.”
I remember saying a silent prayer: “God, I do not really know why I am here—but please help me. Help my heart to be open, so if there is anything I am supposed to learn, or any way in which I can serve, I will be ready for it.”
Then the moment came. After working on it for so long, I handed the newly created draft of my precious book to one of the masters of storytelling and father of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfield. It was my turn to approach the “hot seat” of a mastermind group in Jack’s home.
It felt to me like being naked in front of the doctor—not really comfortable but knowing whatever observation or diagnosis he made was intended to help me.
After I completed sharing about my book and why it was so important to me, Patty Aubery, Jack’s phenomenal CEO, said, “I’m rarely speechless, but I can only say how attached I am to getting as many people as possible to hear this story.” I told her my hope was I would find someone who could help me tell the story better, to do it justice.
After a short pause, Jack finally broke his silence by simply saying, “I’ve read your chapters, and you don’t need it. These are wonderful.”
"I realize and deeply feel I truly do belong"
In quiet moments since, I have reflected on my journey with Quantum Leap. I realized how drastically everything has changed.
For one of the first times in my life, I realize and deeply feel I truly do belong.
As well, I know in my heart and mind that life is so worth living, and worth sharing it with others.
Words do have power.
Quantum Leap has changed my life forever: by the impact of words spoken to me in tender moments that shifted something inside and created light and healing, and through how the coaches, resources, and members have systematically reshaped my capacity to use my own words to help, heal, persuade, and inspire others to good.
The sad irony, unfortunately, is no words seem adequate enough to thank Steve, Bill, coaches, the entire Quantum Leap team, and family of participants for this absolutely priceless gift they have given to me.
This post is adapted from an essay Clint wrote as his entry in our "How I Made My Quantum Leap" contest, in which Quantum Leap members wrote about the difference the program made for them and their careers.