____ http://boazpower.com ____(March 3, 2003)
It was a cold January evening when they each arrived at the corporate headquarters of the Tailored Logistics Corporation (TLC), a client of mine in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
The ground was covered with snow, there were flurries in the air, and the temperature outside was a brisk 28 degrees. But that didnt keep them from showing up.
Marty Marringer, the co-founder of TLC, had organized the meeting and I was the facilitator. This was the core group of players of the TLC little league baseball team for the upcoming season. Marty had told everyone that this was going to be quite an evening. After all, how many times in life do you get a chance to become a fire-eater?
I had learned how a few years back. It was an amazing process involving a number of high achievement skills following directions, trust, faith, taking a stand, and following through.
With my careful guidance, using an aluminum torch with a 6 flame, many people in my audiences have learned how to eat fire. After practicing numerous times without the flame being lit, they put the lighted torch in their mouth, close quickly, put out the flame, and hardly feel the heat. The transformation that occurs, once they overcome the instinctive fear, is amazing.
Thus, on that January night, seven young men between the ages of 12 and 14, along with three of their dads, all showed up at TLC to become fire-eaters.
Marty brought his two sons, Matt and Danny. His assistant coaches were there with their sons Jeff brought Alan-Michael and Bob brought Brian. The other ball players there were Trevor, and the two players named Chad.
So that youll get a clear picture of the fire-eating process, heres how it works: the volunteer stands in front of the audience with me at his or her side. Holding the unlit torch in one hand, the volunteer takes a stance as in a karate move.
As the torch is lit, the head is tilted back, the volunteer takes a deep breath (lungs filled with air cannot inhale smoke or fire), and I guide the hand with the torch to the volunteers mouth. The mouth is then quickly closed and the fire, with no oxygen, goes out instantly. The powerful lesson is one of overcoming the fear of getting hurt as the flame moves toward the mouth.
The first volunteer that night was Danny. We practiced the steps about a dozen times before lighting the torch. Whether in life, or in baseball, the champions practice over and over and over. The torch was then lit, Danny became a fire-eater and the group gave him a standing ovation.
The second volunteer, Trevor, got up and ate fire successfully. Things didnt go as smoothly for the third volunteer Matt. After practicing several times, he hesitated as he was about to eat the actual fire. The fire was put out and he was asked if he wanted to do it again.
His answer was yes. He wanted to overcome the fear. We practiced several more times, lit the torch and this time Matt followed through. He had overcome an obstacle and was proud of himself. His teammates applauded loudly.
How many times in life have you and I stopped just short of a victory? Matt taught all of us something important that evening a winner never quits, no matter how tough the challenge or how many defeats he may face.
The dads, and the two players named Chad, one by one, volunteered to get up and become fire-eaters that night.
Throughout the two hours we spent together, Brian, the lone holdout, was very apprehensive about volunteering to eat fire. I couldnt really blame him. The first time I ate fire I was petrified. Eventhough I saw dozens of other people doing it successfully, and not a single one got hurt, I was really scared.
Once I did it, I wondered what was the big deal? I realized that FEAR is just False Emotions Appearing Real. I realized that most of what we fear never happens. I realized that I needed to strengthen my faith and trust people who knew what they were doing.
Before we adjourned, Brian finally volunteered to eat fire. Holding his torch-bearing wrist, I could feel him trembling. However, he listened, practiced, and, on that cold January night in Ft. Wayne, he made his teammates proud. He, too, became a fire-eater. The standing ovation for Brian was thunderous!
Those boys and their dads had gone through a profound experience that night. In watching their courage and faith, I found it to be incredibly moving.
They tapped an inner strength that exists within all of us, faced the fire, and fearlessly moved through it.
Im certain that you have such inner strength. All you need to do, in a challenging moment, is have faith, tap it, and reach for greatness. All I can say, for the baseball teams the TLC team will face this season, is this: Watch Out! These guys eat fire!
A Daily Affirmation of Courage
When facing a fire in my life, Ill show my faith, look past it, and have the courage to move through it.