Jonah

Over the past week, over 5 MILLION people took a trip to youtube to watch the now viral “What’s goin on” video by Jonah Mowry.

If you haven’t seen the video, check it out here:

In response to this video (and to the issue of bullying at large), I shot my own response and placed it on youtube as well. While this video is largely to Jonah and the bravery he showed, it is more importantly directed to someone else….

To you.

While my job as a youth motivational speaker might be to talk mainly from the stage, some things need to be done to address these issues. If nothing else, I hope this is a start.

What’s going on (Response by Scott Backovich) from Scott Backovich on Vimeo.

We all have friends like Jonah. At one time or another, we have felt just like Jonah.

My challenge to you in this short post? Simple—choose to love.

I’m a Horrible Speaker

I, Scott Backovich, am the worst youth speaker I know.

Sadly, the above statement is 100% accurate (and has caused me to have quite the busy fall).

I have been in-and-out of doctors’ offices, ear/nose/throat specialists’ exam rooms, and hospitals for the past year and a half trying to diagnose a recurring health problem that I have been going through.

Before you get worried and have your grandmother send me cookies (which would be greatly appreciated), let me explain…

Every 6 weeks since June of 2010, my entire vocal system (including any feeling I might have in my throat) would essentially shut down, calling for me to go on a regimen of antibiotics to restore my health in time for my next speech or conference appearance.

Sometimes I would be lucky—the antibiotics would work, I would feel rejuvenated on stage, and everything would go well. Other times though, I wasn’t so lucky. I would struggle to speak for more than an hour, fight to maintain pitch and tone, and do everything I could to maintain a decent volume.

A few weeks ago though, (and after having an HD camera shoved down my throat) I finally received the answer as to what has been going on.

When speaking, your body uses a group of muscles in harmony to produce speech. Two of these muscles are primary, doing the vast majority of the work and supplying to pure power required to make sound. Two of the other muscles, while far less important, function to do smaller things such as control pitch and tone, fine tuning the power that the initial three muscles create. While still important, these last two muscles should not be overworked.

But unfortunately, my vocal system did not get the memo.

As the camera showed, my body does the exact opposite of what it is supposed to. Instead of doing the majority of the work, my primary muscles don’t do much of anything. Instead of simply fine tuning the sound produced, my two helper muscles do all of the work, causing the m to get tired, sick, and then to shut down.

Like I said, I’m a horrible speaker.

And as if it weren’t ironic enough, I will soon have to undergo speech therapy, re-teaching my muscles step-by-step to do one of my body’s most basic functions—to talk.

My point in telling you that story is not to make you feel bad for me, my situation, or to laugh at the irony of everything (though I personally find it hilarious). On the contrary, I decided to write today to tell you something different—

Sometimes, the things in life that are the most fulfilling are the exact things that constantly present you with daunting challenges.

Homecoming weeks at schools are here, midterms are clearly present, and for a lot of you, the stress of the school year is at an all-time high. And while you might be able to lighten the load by pulling near all-nighters, putting in hours upon hours of extra prep work after school, or neglecting everything else to stay focused, the sad fact is that your body will eventually run out of energy.

Instead of virtually killing yourself by sacrificing your body and doing the same things you’ve always done, my challenge to you is the same that I currently face:

Take the time to relearn something you do constantly in a new way.

Maybe that means restructuring how you spend your time during the day, perhaps it means getting better at designating tasks, or it might even be simply learning to let go at one time or another to see things pan-out for themselves.

Nothing truly great in life comes without the work to make it something great, and more importantly, nobody ever did something flawlessly without first doing it horribly hundreds of times.

Even if it is the most routine task you do on a daily basis, relearning to do things in different, more efficient ways can make our lives (and the lives of those around us), much more fulfilling.

I will be doing my best to relearn how to speak. What will you relearn to do?

Formspring Fun

If you’ve recently been on my website, Facebook fan page, or have just listened to the new CADA leadership podcast (which can be found on iTunes), you know that I’ve had a massive cyber crush on Formspring as of late. Seeing as I’ve been busy on the road this month speaking at schools and conferences, I’ve had a lot of layover breaks at airports to sit down and answer a lot of your questions about leadership, school, and life in general. You’ve taken the time to think of quality questions, so I’ve set some time aside to answer.

Overall, the response has been GREAT! We’ve covered topics like as how to approach a guy or girl, how to be a standout leader while still having an awesome social life, and how to deal with defeat.  At the same time, there has been some epic back and forth on everything from my favorite Sesame Street character (Elmo, of course) to the pros and cons of almighty Justin Beiber (I’m anti hair flip). Regardless of how serious or goofy the questions, I hope that you have been able to get some great information from my online resources. Furthermore, I hope that you will continue to utilize the site to answer any other questions you may have. As I’ve repeatedly said, I’m here to help!

Like with any online resource that I use, I want to be able to make it applicable for activities directors and teachers to utilize in their classrooms. Like I mentioned above, I recently appeared as a featured guest on the CADA leadership podcast. Whether you listened to it or have yet to press the download button (by the way, it’s totally free for you), here are a few of the points that I touched on.

What is this site good for?

-Formspring allows you to answer questions that A LOT of your students have and post it to public forums such as Facebook, Twitter, or even WordPress. These can be questions regarding scheduled events, student activities, community service projects, etc.

  • On a side note, BE CREATIVE! As activities directors and teachers, you get questions on the most random topics known to mankind. The real task when utilizing new technology becomes figuring out how it can be used to best aid your student population.

-This online tool allows your group to enhance their presence on already popular sites is a POSITIVE MANNER.

  • Let’s face it…Teens are ALL OVER these websites. As a leadership group, you have the opportunity to provide a positive place for students to go while not tending to their crops on Farmville. Most importantly, linking your Formspring with a Facebook page makes it SUPER EASY for students to access valuable information. You are literally a click away!

- Anonymous Asking

  • Your students DO NOT need an account to ask you any questions. Also, the site allows for students to ask questions without providing ANY personal information (such as their name). As an administrator, YOU then have the power to choose which questions you find suitable for answering. Yay for ease of use!

I hope that these brief points give you a good overview of how this site can be used within your leadership group or organization. As always, I would love to answer any questions you may have! Feel free to go to MY Formspring (www.Formspring.me/ScottBackovich) or email me at Scott@ScottBackovich.com

Oh, and students, don’t worry! I will back within days to post a blog JUST for you! In the meantime, you know the drill…Ask away!  www.formspring.me/scottbackovich

***www.ScottBackovich.com ***

UPDATE– Since writing this post, I have stopped utilizing Formspring to answer questions for students. As a youth motivational speaker, my goal is to provide the safest outlets possible for my students. Unfortunately, formspring has stopped updating privacy features that would make the site safe for teens. My Facebook page is still available for this purpose, and even has a new messaging feature.