One of my keynote presentations is titled, “Celebrating Nursing: Human by birth – Hero by choice”. I talk about the heroes in our lives and ask my audience of nurses to share stories about their heroes – who made a difference in their nursing career. Most nurses easily identify who their hero is/was and can tell the story as if it happened yesterday. When I ask if their hero KNOWS that they’ve made a difference; that they are heroes, most nurses pause, think and then say no.

When I was a new educator, I was asked by my CNO to present to our professional practice council. This was a big deal for two reasons: This was my first opportunity to present to a large, well-respected group; the topic was neuro (her choice) and my CNO said to me, “I’ve heard that you are an entertaining speaker. Let’s see how you do with this group.” Really? Did she really say that? Ugh. Talk about pressure!! I felt like it was my test.
I worked really hard to develop a 1-hour presentation that would dazzle my audience. Back then playing Jeopardy games was new and unheard of so that’s what I decided to do. At the end of a long day, I was still in my office working on my presentation when my co-worker Joanne stopped by to say goodbye. Her coat was on, bags in hand and she asked if I was leaving soon. I told her I wanted to finish my Jeopardy game before I left (my presentation was the next day). Joanne then asked if I wanted her to take a look at it.
Joanne was considered the “educator extraordinaire”. She was an amazing teacher and someone whom I admired and respected above all others. She was obviously on her way home but insisted on making me do a dry run with her to make sure I was prepared. She took her coat off, called her husband to say she’d be late and sat down next to me. Two hours later we finished and went home.
In those two hours she took my game from good to great. She added the fun, even made me call myself, “The Game Master” (a title that stayed with me for my remaining years).  I even wore my husband’s suit jacket and called myself, “Alexis Trebeck”, played the Jeopardy theme song and mimicked the game hosts mannerisms.
It was my “15 minutes of fame”. Everyone loved it! I became known as the Game Master and found myself being asked to present more and more. Even the CNO complimented me a gazillion times and told me how fabulous I was. Whew. I passed the test.
Here is the really cool part. Joanne took no credit for my success – none. To this day she claims it was all me; that I had it in me all the time, she just helped to bring it out. What Joanne doesn’t realize is that day changed the course of my entire career. I now have my own business as a speaker and get to do “fabulous” presentations all over the country. If Joanne would have kept walking, wouldn’t have taken her coat off, wouldn’t have spent two hours teaching me how to kick it up a notch, I wouldn’t be writing this today.
Joanne made a huge difference in my life. And, I didn’t tell her until I started doing my “Hero” keynote. Now she knows because I tell people all over the country – Joanne Turka is my hero.
Joanne Turka and me!

We all have a little fabulous in us; it’s there. But if nobody helps us bring it out, it just sits there. Joanne gave up a little bit of her time and her ego that day to help me be fabulous – help me to become a better educator. Joanne was and still is my hero today.
Who are the heroes in your life? Stop what you’re doing right now and find a way to tell them. There is no better feeling than finding out you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. Share good stories. Tell others good things about other people. Become a hero to someone else.
Thanks so much for reading. I’d love to hear your hero stories in the comment section.
Take care and stay connected!
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