Where am I Coming From?

The Evolution of a Speaker

(14:39 minutes
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On a Personal Note

How did I become The Good Relations Speaker! Every speaker, preacher, CEO, taxi driver, politician and street person is driven to do what they do by their point of view. On some level all of us are driven forward by an ever-evolving life perspective that has being shaped by fortune, circumstance, success and failure and a mysterious mix of time and experiences, talents and wisdom that leads to a life calling. This page explores the Point Of View that I bring to my work. Upfront and personal.

I want to share my point of view because it is rooted in every breath I take, every connection with clients, friends and family, every word I share on the platform and every activity I facilitate as a professional seminar leader.

Some people are driven by a powerful personal experience that dramatically shapes who they are, like my speaking colleague, W. Mitchell, burned over much of his body and quadriplegic because of two separate near death accidents. He can speak with integrity about the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

I, on the other hand, grew up in a “normal” working class nuclear family in small town Nova Scotia. My world view evolved with time and experiences. I was called to teach, and it took me nearly 20 years to get clarity as to what I have been born to share.

I taught for 9 years in the public school system starting with grade 8/9 and finishing my last years in grade 5/6. If I learned nothing else, I learned that the 3 R’s (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic) may not have been the most important subjects, that just maybe the 4th R of responsibility was more important in the long run. That the so called hidden curriculum (what gets taught when the text books close) was truly what young people longed to know. 

They wanted ways to solve their problems, to be liked and loved and cared for, to feel a sense of power over their lives and to find meaning and joy in life. I discovered that empowering others to know their dreams and their emotions, to share their talents and to know how to get along and create with others, whether children, youth or adults, was a universal desire longing to be filled.

I changed my career and left public school system because of the Montreal Massacre in 1989 and descended into the world of violence. The murder of 14 women because they were women in an engineering school moved me to act. I co-founded a community based men’s organization dedicated to promoting healthy masculinity. I co-wrote what turned out to be a successful book on violence prevention, and I refocused my career to become a violence prevention expert specializing in family and youth violence prevention and building healthy relationships with self and others. I have been honored to train professionals at every level of government and with professionals in the field across Canada and as far away as Israel and Trinidad. To succeed meant figuring out innovative and compassionate ways to help others recognize and intervene effectively to help women, children, teens, seniors, persons with disability, men, immigrants and gay/lesbian/bi folks and others get safe from those who would harm them.

Over the years as a violence prevention trainer, I have used an actual recording of a 911 call in training sessions to demonstrate the impact on children who witness violence. The 5 minute call to emergency services was placed by a 6 year old girl named Lisa. While Lisa is calling for help to the 911 operator, we can hear a man and a woman screaming in the background as Lisa yells “don’t hurt the baby.”  Listening to this recording has made the toughest policeman tear up. Why people get to that sad extreme of separation and desperation is important, but what is more important to me is to surround all the kids like Lisa with what they need to grow up unafraid to live their dreams.

Violence and abuse occurs along a very long continuum from self-doubts, disfunction, criticism and yelling at one end all the way to murder and war at the other extreme. But make no mistake, an angry word, a sharp criticism or a closed heart to someone in need leaves a wound no matter what the scale. After over 20 years, I am tired of training others to pull people out of the river of violence, fatigued by being in a coping and reaction position in the world. So I decided to journey upstream to the seek headwaters of this river of pain. I found a place where it may begin. A place where thoughts and feelings of separation, intolerance, judgment, prejudice and suffering trickles from our smallest words and deeds. The source of brutality to ourselves and others? It is in the human heart. It is in our thwarted capacity to find beauty and see ourselves in others and celebrate life and its infinite possibilities for love. It is found from our lack of avenues or capacity to contribute meaningfully with our time and talents to a cause or purpose greater than ourselves.

So from beyond the borders of a small town I go forward to do what I can to help people connect with themselves and others, to help prevent the violence each of us do in small ways everyday. At the very least put a stop to the innerkill that wastes time on worries, drains energy on judging others and feeds regret and loss. This commitment may or may not affect the crime rates or suicide bombers or stop all people from kicking the dog after a bad day at work but I believe this: that people who are happy and fulfilled, accept who they are and appreciate that the work they do as important will go home at the end of the day to their families with enough positive energy to share with their loved ones.

This is why I help people invest in good relations and live abundantly from their Innerwealth. What greater invitation than to love who we are and the work we do and so we can have more love to give. There may be no more simpler way to prevent violence and harm than to replace it with a beautiful and profound caring for what’s most important. Insert what you love most here and go forth to be the best person and professional you can be with all your heart.

When Mother Teresa won the Nobel Prize for Peace she was asked, "What can we do to promote peace?" She replied simply, "Go home and love your family."

So from a small town boy who has found a small voice to share, I can only promise to give my best in service to this vision and sometimes when I feel human and get discouraged or lose focus, I play back the 911 recording and remember who it’s all for.

Warm regards and great abundance,

Peter

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