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Tom Shieves


For the past several years, I have been sitting in workshops and feeling quite envious of those experienced and dynamic speakers who seem to command an audience so well.  They not only have the necessary self-confidence, but they also seem to have a real platform from which to speak. It seems that their platform is typically based on a book that they have written, one that seems to give them instant credibility and recognition.

This past year was very different for me.

During that time, I have heard more truly excellent speakers than in the last ten years combined. The National Speakers Association has provided me multiple, unique opportunities to hear accomplished and successful speakers. I have learned a lot, received so much, and also pondered “my” book one day. On November 21, 2008, I was able to attend as an “observer” a workshop with Brian Biro, America’s Breakthrough Coach. As Brian Biro led this Fortune 100 firm in a Breakthrough Workshop, I was again able to witness another successful speaker, loaded with great content and with a table full of books, CDs, and whitepapers.

This workshop was a high impact four hour session that Brian led. He engaged our emotions so strongly in the stories and energized us in the activities that he led. What a story teller! Soon, I was more than an observer: I quickly shifted into the participant role. The high energy that Brian exudes is truly amazing. He is unparalleled at motivating, leading and at getting you to not only really think, but to think differently.

The barrier in my career that I needed to break through was writing a book. I felt that this was the one thing that was keeping me from really carrying a message of change and hope in organizations. My stumbling block was, of course, time. I simply had no time to write a book. A better way to put it was that writing a book was not important enough to me to motivate me to take the time.

At Brian’s workshop, I wrote on one side of my “break through board” the following:  “NOT ENOUGH TIME TO WRITE BOOK”. On the other side, I wrote the following: “If I could “break through, what would that experience be like?” I continued with these words, “Success, stop being envious of successful speakers and coaches, more visit to our family, taking care of wife and family – Rose and Grand kids.”  

My subsequent experience was life-changing. I can only report that for several years I had wanted to write a book and had not done so. On December 6, a little over two weeks following Brian’s workshop, I woke up in the morning at 4:00 a.m. with the clear idea of what this book would look like. By 8:00 a.m., I had the beginning of an outline and a few stories written. I started to cut and paste from my blog and I was on my way. On February 9, 2009, I sent my final manuscript with cover to my publisher for printing, only 65 days from the 4:00 a.m. awakening, and less than 3 months from my “Breakthrough” moment. Most people take a year to write and complete a book. I not only broke through, I busted through!  

I owe a debt of thanks in several areas.

Thanks first to my God, Who gave me the yearning to discover the importance of what I was doing (more than just the book writing), thanks to Mina Brown at Turnkey Coaching Solutions who provided me the opportunity to be there at the Breakthrough workshop, thanks to Brian Biro for the breakthrough moment and subsequent encouragement afterwards, and thanks to Rosemary, my wife, who was my chief editor and soul mate in this project.

I am now on the “other side” of the “busted-through” board. The reward is even more than I imagined that day in Brian’s workshop when I wrote down my barrier on one side and on the other side wrote what it would be like to break through. I keep the cleanly-broken board in my office as a reminder that barriers can be defeated and opportunities can be unstuck!

Tom Shieves, PhD, PMP

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