Have you ever seen greatness up close? Sure you have. It doesn’t need to be a rock star or athlete. It could be someone in your line of work, your boss, a colleague, a peer. But the gap between you can feel unassailable - a yawning chasm. It can feel overwhelming.

The first project I worked on after I moved to NYC was designing and leading an accelerator program for diverse media & entertainment founders, backed by NYC Mayor's Office. 65 companies went through it, and I’m still in touch with a bunch of them today.

Looking back, I was decent at the work… but far from great.

During the first cohort, we got a bunch of guest speakers to come in as a favour. One of them was this guy from Detroit. 

Honestly, I’m sometimes skeptical of ‘keynote speaker’ types - I feel quite a few lack substance (did I just say that? Oh. I did).

But this person? Quite the opposite.

It wasn’t just his material, though: 30 minutes watching him taught me a ton about content design, teaching, and stage craft. It was amazing.

About halfway through I had one of those moments where four things seem to flash before you all at once: 

  1. seeing what great looks like; 
  2. the reality of where you really are in your craft; 
  3. the gaping chasm between; 
  4. the spark that maybe - just maybe - you can cross it.

Here’s the real insight.

  • You see the first of these things? It’s exciting, but fizzles away over time
  • The first two? It’s clarifying, but scary
  • Three? There’s a possible path, steps starting to emerge from the haze
  • Four: That’s the confidence game.

(There’s a fifth: Having the right structure and guidance to stay on the path. That’s for another post…)

Perhaps you’ve experienced that same four-part feeling? 

P.S. I meant to tell him this months ago. Years ago. Never did. Until I emailed him yesterday. It’s never too late. So, thank you, Marcus Collins.

Four flashes of insight: a catalyst for my teaching work

And why it's worth telling those people who impacted you most.

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