I’m going to show you how to tell a great story by stealing a famous story and making it your own. Now I am not saying you should steal anyone’s story, but I’m going to show you how two people did at the same convention. One was embarrassed; the other was cheered, and all he did was change two lines!
Several years ago, I was at the National Speakers Association conference in San Antonio, Texas. There was a speaker from National Geographic Magazine who was showing a lot of his beautiful photos. For some reason, which was never clear, he decided to retell a well-known story that he had borrowed from the famous speaker Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Only he forgot to mention that it was Doctor Peale’s story and told it as if it were is own.
The story goes something like this, many years ago, a small boy went to see his father, who was in the construction business in New York City. The kid was probably seven or eight years old. When he got to the construction site, he came across three men who were laying a long line of bricks. The young boy stopped at the first man and asked him what he was doing. The man barely looked up and said, “I’m doing my lousy job kid get lost.” But the boy was undeterred by his gruff attitude and walked downline to where the second man was laying bricks. The boy asked again. “Hey, Mr, what are you doing? The man looked up and said, “I’m making five lousy dollars kid get lost.” The boy still undeterred, continue down the line to the third man. This man was a whistling and a singing and laying bricks far faster than the other two fellows. The boy stopped and again asked his question, “Hey, Mr., what are you doing? The man turned, beaming at the small boy, and said in a loud voice, “Son, I’m building the world’s greatest cathedral.”
The story, of course is all about what an amazing difference your attitude makes in life, and it’s a classic. The convention had employed a comedian to roast each speaker after they spoke. This particular gentleman was in his early 70s. Dressed in a light blue cowboy suit complete with bolo and cowboy hat. He was also missing his left arm. He got up to the podium and said in a slow Texas drawl, “Ladies and gentlemen…