Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My day in court

Have you ever been called for jury service? Well I have and today I had my day in court. It’s an interesting experience and just judging from this morning’s process, I can see why it takes so long for cases to move through the courts.

There were probably 100 of us – a motley crew I might add – all shepherded into this warm, airless courtroom. At 10.15 we were advised to make a quick visit to the washroom if necessary – most of the women left. There were two toilets. An hour later, still nothing had happened.

Then we were told to form a single line and proceed up four flights of stairs. It was like being back in preschool – I quite expected to see a rope. Once in the next courtroom, we were advised about the case, saw the accused, and then given all the reasons we could use to get out of serving on the jury. They also read out all the names of the witnesses in case there was a conflict of interest.

Now this was a murder case and we’d already been warned it could be at least three months, so much as I believe we all have a civic responsibility to serve on juries – three months is pushing it, especially when you own a small business.

Those who could potentially serve on the jury were asked to leave to come back another day, while those of us wanting out of the process, had to stay. One by one we had to stand before the judge and give our reasons for asking for deferment or to be excused from the process altogether. I felt badly for those who had more personal reasons for not wanting to be involved as they had to speak up, not just before the judge, but the rest of us in court.

It was not without its funny moments – take the elderly gentleman who in a strong Scottish brogue complained that he couldn’t hear the judge, and when asked if he wore a hearing aid, quickly retorted back that he wasn’t deaf you know.

Well, I got off. I felt like I’d got out of jail, could go past GO and collect my $200. I’ve been anxious about this case for several months now, worrying about how I was going to juggle all this. But I’m off the hook… this time.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Speaking from the Heart

What makes a good speaker? It’s a question I am often asked and my response is usually when the speaker talks with humour, honesty and integrity, and ensures the presentation is truly relevant to the audience.

A few weeks ago, for example, I had the opportunity to attend the Access to Success Conference. The caliber of the speakers was outstanding and it struck me that each had an important message to convey and each told their story with humour and honesty. It was wonderful just to laugh out loud – we don’t do it enough.

One of the most poignant stories was told by Alan Hobson who had successfully climbed Mount Everest on his third attempt. But it was his story of his second attempt that grabbed my attention.

This expedition had been thwarted because one of their team got into trouble and was in real danger of dying on the mountain. So everyone rallied round to save him. At one point he was alone, having collapsed and was just lying in the snow. The danger here was that he would just fall asleep, never to wake up.

The team struggled from a distance not knowing what to do when someone remembered that he was linked up by a walkie-talkie system to the US. It was the voices of his young daughters saying ‘Daddy wake up, we want you to come home ‘ that brought him to back to life and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind, that his daughters had saved him.

This speaker had everything – a story that made you want to laugh, cry and remember his message of focusing on what is important in life – be it raising your children, climbing a mountain or in his case, winning a battle with cancer. It was a story of courage.