Don’t be an Idiot

I am privileged to be a professional speaker.  It has given me the ability to share my message with millions of people in arena events and business conventions around theworld.  Among the many great things about being a professional speaker are the wonderful colleagues I get to work with.  I have shared the stage with Zig Ziglar, Christopher Reeve, Colin Powell, Dr. Denis Waitley, Tony Robbins, Paul Harvey, Dr. Robert Schuller, and many others. 

One of my most unique colleagues is a talented speaker named Larry Winget.  Most professional speakers take the stage wearing their best suit or professional attire.  I have never known Larry to wear a tie if he even owns one.  Many years ago, he shaved his head and began appearing onstage with flamboyant glasses, earrings, andoften with a toilet plunger affixed to his bald head. 

Over the years, people have labeled me as a motivational speaker.  Larry Winget proudly proclaims himself to be an irritational speaker.  While I encourage myaudiences with phrases such as “You are one quality decision away from anything you want,” and “You change your life when you change your mind,” Larry regularly confronts his audiences with one of his trademark statements, “If you’re not where you want to be, it’s because you’re lazy, stupid, or don’t give a blank.” 

Larry and I collaborated, along with the talented author Sharon Lechter, on an audio series from Napoleon Hill entitled 17 Principles of Success.  In this project, Larry and I went back and forth recording our thoughts on the relevance of Napoleon Hill’s financial principles in the 21st century.  After we finished the project, I was struck by the fact that Larry and I are complete opposites but worked very well together.  While I was thinking about this, Larry actually called me and suggested the two of us team up on another audio program.  The recording that came from that idea is now known as Motivation and Irritation

As Larry and I were chatting back and forth preparing to do the recording, he mentioned his son had just left home for college, and he’d had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with his son during the last few days he was living at home.  I asked Larry, as a great author and speaker, if he had any advice for his son as the young man was leaving home to complete his education and move out into the world.  Larry responded automatically sharing the advice he gave his son.  “Don’t be an idiot.”  While my immediate thought was how inappropriate Larry’s statement to his son might have been, upon further reflection, I realized that it’s powerful advice for that young man as well as you and me. 

We live in a world where your best efforts, your reputation, and your life’s work can be wiped out with one brief lapse of judgment.  If you will remember that all guns are loaded, all microphones are turned on, and you’re responsible for everything you do even if you’re drunk, you will avoid many pitfalls. 

Our parents and grandparents could often get away with briefly being an idiot, but here in the 21st century, everyone everywhere is armed with a cell phone that functions as a video camera.  If you do let down your guard and act as if you’re an idiot, it will not go unnoticed or be forgotten.  It will likely be a permanent fixture on the World Wide Web. 

As you go through your day today, work hard, treat people well, and don’t be an idiot.

Today’s the day! 

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at; on Twitter at; or on Facebook at

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