The Big Fish In The Room

The Big Fish In The Room

I was doing a talk last weekend to a group of people that receive multiple talks a week. I'm not really keen on hitting the category where I blend into the list of other speakers that have been good and okay. I try and shoot for memorable. (Sometimes that gets me into trouble…)

A few years ago, my brother caught a record-sized striped marlin off the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. We’re a competitive family, so I was jealous he caught the biggest fish ever, but was glad for him.

Anyway, we had it mounted. The only problem was that it was 10,000 miles away from Harare. We had to figure out how to get it from one third world nation to another: Mexico to Zimbabwe. That’s a completely different story about how we got it to Zimbabwe, but five years later it arrives and just in time for my talk.

The title of my talk was It's Not About The Fish and this record-sized marlin stood by my side the whole time.

The night before I spoke, the team was bringing the fish into the building. The security guard was having a small siesta (see how I’m tying Mexico into this). He woke up to the guys holding this giant marlin. Now, keep in mind that an average Zimbabwean citizen probably has never seen a marlin in his life.

The guard jolts up from his napping position on the couch. My brother says, “Hello sir, we'd just like to know where we can put this until tomorrow.”

And just like that the security guard fainted.

He blacked out and fell face-first on the tile floor.

The rest of the setup team came in chuckling and said, “Wow, he's actually showing us in elaborate form where to put this thing.”

The security guard was sprawled out on the floor, unconscious.

The guys laughed. Put the fish down and helped him come to his senses. He wasn’t seriously injured, but he immediately began telling the guys this story:

"I had a fight with my wife, and when I came to work that was all I could think about. Then I fell asleep thinking about the fight. When I woke up I thought the fish was a curse coming to get me because of the fight! I couldn't handle it and I felt myself beginning to just see black."

Knocked out by the look of a giant fish.

When people see something they haven't seen in a while (or ever seen), it can knock them out and it will certainly be something they remember forever.

Seeing something you’ve never seen before compels you to call your wife and make it right. It demands that you share the story with someone else.

Now in this crazy case, it just happened to be a giant fish. But in the regular day to day, it could could be a huge act of kindness, a thoughtful deed, or an honest word.

I could have shown a picture of the fish on screen, but you have to go the extra step to make it memorable.

What’s the big fish in the room that you’ll be remembered by?

(photo via n.meadows)