Why the Rhetorical Journey?

U2, The Joshua Tree

A friend of mine, Roger, asked me “Why do you call the blog The Rhetorical Journey?”.

I am a fan of U2.  I have been since I was 10 years old. On the album “Rattle and Hum” there is a recording of an interview between a journalist and Bono and The Edge of U2.  The journalist asks them “what are you doing?” and The Edge replies, with laughter, “We are on a Rhetorical Journey”.

A Rhetorical Journey

I didn’t know what Rhetorical meant, but it sounded like a cool thing.  To me a Rhetorical Journey is a journey searching for meaning and purpose; a desire to travel, to experience to see and feel and experience all that life has to offer.  I have always thought that U2 is one of the few musical groups who completely reinvent themselves every 5-6 years.  They travel, they seek new inspiration, they seek new answers.  No album is ever a simple repeat of what worked in the previous album.

I was in hospital the last two days for an operation.  I don’t like needles.  I spent the time waiting for the operation working to keep my brain full of other thoughts and not allow room for thoughts about needles, knives or operations to enter my head.  I spent about 40 minutes in a clean ward with 6 others getting wired up before we were wheeled off to our respective operating rooms.  At a certain moment I looked up at the ceiling and thought “hospital ceilings are horrible. Green paint and florescent lights. How many people have this as their last view of life.”

This blog is a journey away from anonymity for me.  These are ideas that I think about and have often written about in my own private notebooks.  It is sometimes painful to press “publish” and put my half-formed ideas out for all the world to see and comment on.  I am generally surprised by the positive feedback that I receive and has been a big motivator to keep the habit of blogging (It might be a bit sad, but I do pay attention to which posts get comments, RTs on Twitter, Shares on facebook…).

I had felt for a long time that I had no base to talk about life – I can’t point to massive success or some other external “validator” that my ideas might be useful.  I was greatly helped by an insight from a friend, Tony Anagor, who has decided to take a step back from his successful business and build a role as a “life coach” (check out his website Keep The Bounce) – helping others understand and take steps to achieve their dreams (in work, family, personal lives).Tony told me that he had gone to one of the first Anthony Robbins conferences in Europe.  This was about 18 years ago in London.  Anthony Robbins was only at the beginning of his journey towards the famous motivational guru that he has become today.  Tony went to another Anthony Robbins conference a couple of years ago where Anthony was now successful, confidante to Presidents, a millionaire author with his own resort in Fiji (here is his TED talk).

Tony Robbins

My friend told me that the first conference was the most powerful of the two.  Robbins was on his own journey of discovery and the conference was about Robbins sharing his pains, fears, steps of his personal journey.  The second conference was powerful, but less authentic for being so professional.  Robbins had lost any of his own doubts about his own path and is clear on his purpose today.  It was harder to connect to the guru Robbins than to the “on a journey” Robbins.

I saw then that I do not need to point to my successes (few), but only remain humble (I fail often), open to ideas, stories, people and provide my mundane, simple commentary on these experiences that appear in my life.

This then is my Rhetorical Journey.

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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