"Chicken Soup" contributor speaks to senior leadership

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emily Hulse
  • 151 ARW/PA
As part of the Utah National Guard Commanders Conference held September 18, motivational speaker Dan Clark, one of the primary contributors to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, spoke to the UTNG senior leadership, concluding the conference. Clark said he has spoken at numerous Air Force events across the country, but said he never had the chance to speak to the UTNG.

Clark focused on staying positive and finding the best in any situation, and talked specifically about the Air Force core values of integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do.

"We shouldn't have to think about [the core values]," he said. "In that way, we live our lives on higher ground, and people realize we are on higher ground."

Clark shared numerous anecdotes from his own life, including an accident he had while playing football in college. He said that his resulting injuries forced him to evaluate his life and make the best of what he had.

Clark said while playing football for the University of Utah, he came in contact with an opposing player during a game which left him completely paralyzed on the right side of his body for the next year. After being told by six different doctors that he would never recover, he said he realized that he had been asking the wrong questions.

"Now that I've recovered, everyone wants to know the most interesting question of all: Why did you stay paralyzed for a whole year," he said. "What they were really saying was, 'If you were going to change, why did you wait so long?' The reason I stayed paralyzed for so long was because I was asking the wrong question. I kept asking doctors how to get better, when I should have been asking myself why should I get better?"

Clark went on to talk about the mentality of today's society, saying that Americans take what they have for granted.

He spoke of a trip to Wyoming, where he stopped at a hotel for a night and said he was amazed at the wildlife that surrounded the area. "There was a buffalo out on the grass," he said. "And when we got out my luggage to go in the building, there was a bald eagle only 50 feet above us. I told the receptionist when I got inside, and she didn't even look up when she said, 'Yeah, I know. He's there every day.' Do you take this for granted?"

Clark emphasized that Guardsmen shouldn't minimize the importance of the job that they do.

"Don't take yourself for granted," said Clark. "You are on a pedestal."

Clark concluded with asking Guardsmen what their goals are and how they planned to get there.

"Who is stretching you," he asked. "How high is the bar? What are you willing to do that no one else is?"