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From the buzzards perspective...

Random articles that are created as I travel, experience new things, meet new people and discover new insights.

  • Writer's pictureEddy Weiss

A life changing moment at ILEETA

Ralph Waldo Emerson was famous for greeting his friends with this question: “What has become clear to you since we last met?” His intent was an invitation and challenge to his friends and guests to assess the progress of their thinking.

The unique and famous question became the premise for a meeting held each year at the ILEETA (International law Enforcement Educators and Trainers) Conference. It was my absolute pleasure to be an attendee at that conference this year.

Apparently, years ago, the elite group began to hold what they call the “Emerson Hour” which is a rather simple gathering of educators and trainers from around the world stuffed into a small banquet hall to listen to six of their peers answer Emerson’s question for 9 minutes each.  Having attended hundreds of conferences each year for over two decades, the very idea of this event was strange and new to me.

Upon arriving, the atmosphere was sizzling with anticipation and although I had arrived early, there was standing room only and the room was filled with muffled conversations much like one would experience just before a funeral or wedding were to begin. The room did not feel like a banquet hall of meeting room; it was apparent that the attendees knew something was about to be unveiled.

The Master of Ceremonies paced the front of the room, greeting some, waving at other and was constantly checking the time. With no speaker’s identified on a placard by the door or in the conference literature, I wondered along with the rest who would speak. It seems that tradition holds that the selected presenters are never identified prior to the event. The very mystery of it all was captivating and I sat in wonder, glad I had gotten a seat and amazed at the attention that was being offered by every eye in the room as the Master of Ceremonies finally took his place at the front.

What took place next I can only attempt to describe as one presenter after another entered into what had become a place of reverence in the room and answered Emerson’s question.  Each answer was given slowly, passionately and emotionally despite the short 9 minute time frame each was given. It was obvious that not only were these presenters professional educators, but after a few seconds it became indisputably clear that these six men and women had truly allowed their lives to be changed by something they had learned throughout the last year.

I can only liken my experience to attending the most powerful (and shortest) church service. Each presenter, confined by 9 short minutes, imparted insight that cut through the fog of travel, schedules, delayed plane flights, upcoming classes and a week of activity.  For thirty-six minutes, the minds of those in the room were transformed and revived by words that were spoken ever-so-eloquently by people just like me. They did not ask that I aspire to any greatness of level beyond that which I am capable of nor did they stand haughtily above anyone in the room to spout advice or knowledge.

It was wisdom. That is what was offered by six of my peers that had allowed both good and bad things throughout the year to alter the way they thought, acted and felt while growing in mental, psychological, spiritual and emotional stature.  As I listened, I literally craved the same experience. I was a captive in that room surrounded by men and women I had never met and yet I could feel the oneness that was beginning to occur; I could feel the connection to those around me as we all breathed in the gifts that were being presented.

As I look back on the mysterious “Emerson Hour”, I have to admit that it’s marketing was less than adequate, but then again, I am not sure how the conference planners would have described this solitary moment in a manner worthy.

As I left the conference almost a week later, I looked back on how it began and began to think about all of the conversations that the one hour had started. For a week I was surrounded by hundreds of men and women with perhaps the toughest and most thankless jobs in the United States, yet I felt their excitement and their energy. The Emerson Hour had changed lives and had created a fresh wind that blew through the massive conference center.

While the Emerson began with one quote, another Emerson quote rang true through the week that followed: “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be,” and we did just that with what we received in that over-crowded and over-heated room. We walked away changed, revived and inspired as we decided to be the very best versions of ourselves.   



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