Speech Review

Speech Review

John Skretta
High School Principal at Norris Public Schools

Joel Christiansen, President of Joel Christiansen Speaking Services, www.joelcspeaking.com urged the Norris High School students to “Get on the right side of making good choices.” The 2002 Professor of the Year at Doane College-Lincoln delivered a powerful message to the Norris High School student body. Presenting a motivational message about positive life choices, taking responsibility and being accountable, and adopting a winning attitude, the nationally recognized speaker and published author of “Out of the Ashes the Resurrection of an Addict” and “Stop Whining and Start Winning: The Power of Life’s Choices” shared his life experiences and perspective with the youth.

Christiansen immediately engaged the students with some quick centering activities that captured their attention. Each brain teaser had a purpose that connected with the theme of his speech. For example on the importance of deciding, he used an analogy about five birds sitting on a wire. If three decided to fly off, how many would be left on the wire? The answer is all five because all the three birds did was decide; they didn’t do. You want to do in life, not just decide.

Christiansen built on his theme of taking personal responsibility and being accountable with a harrowing and rigorously honest account of the personal heartbreak he endured and inflicted on his family and friends as a result of his addiction, explaining the wreckage left in the wake of poor choices. “I have been up close and personal with addiction, and I am here to tell you that it is nothing but a miserable pit of despair.” Describing the long and painful journey back through recovery, Christiansen urged students to make good choices. He stressed the point that good choices result in good outcomes and that bad choices result in bad outcomes. “Choice is never neutral,” he said.

Much of Christiansen’s comments focused on the theme of character and overcoming adversity. “Challenges don’t build character,” he said. “They reveal it.” Christiansen said, “No one’s life is spared a loss, setback, disappointment or failure. None of those should ever be used to give up or give in.” “Your life is a direct result of the choices you make, who and what you attract, and your thinking,” he went on to say.

Christiansen addressed with pointed criticism the constant need for today’s youth to be entertained and amused. “The purpose of school is not to entertain or amuse you,” he said. “It is for teachers to teach and for students to learn,” he went on to say. Christiansen’s passion for excellence was evident throughout his remarks. He stressed to students to be motivated by excellence in all that they do and to never allow themselves to ever get used to a life of mediocrity.