Shattering Comfort Zones: Marshall's Story

This speech was originally given by Marshall Johnson, Leadership Intensive high school intern, at the 2018 end-of-summer banquet. He was generous enough to share a written version of his story - one that prompted the audience to laughter, nods of agreement, and appreciation for his unique perspective on his summer internship experience.

Hi, my name is Marshall Johnson - I was one of the full-time interns this summer and I was lucky enough to have been a part of such an amazing opportunity. I was asked here today to speak on my experience from this summer and that is what I will try to do. I emphasize the word ‘try’ because there is not nearly enough time in the day that will allow me to accurately sum up this summer, so, to make a long story short, I will tell you everything thing that went wrong this summer - because in all honesty, they make for a much more compelling story.

marshall johnson

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The Leadership Intensive is, in short, a learning experience. It allows students to participate in one of four micro-businesses: the Cafe, where you can gain skills in social interaction with customers; the Workshop, where you will learn the importance of hard work and tenacity; the t-shirt Press, where you will learn the precise art of laying a design onto a shirt; and finally the Market, a brand new business that allowed students to get experience in building a business from the ground up - that is the business that I was in this summer, along with Brittany [college intern] and Marqreshea [high school full-time intern] and the help of some very ambitious part-time interns. We were given no instructions on how to proceed [in order to enhance the entrepreneurial experience], so Google became our best friend. Through persistence, communication, experimentation, and teamwork we were able to create a nearly perfect batch of bath bombs that’ll remind you of the scents of heaven.

The box that was my comfort zone was completely shattered. The National Leadership Academy is an annual opportunity for students across the country to develop their leadership skills while staying in a university in Colorado. If the idea of flying up to 560 mph while thousands of miles into the air terrifies you as much as it does me, then you can probably imagine my surprise when Mrs. Ally Armstrong comes walking my way with the most deviously sweet smile on her face. To top it all off, not only would I be confined in a plane for hours, but once we landed I’d be split apart from the only people that I have ever known and roomed with five other guys from all over the United States for four days. I thought that I was going to have a meltdown right here in the church - that wouldn’t have been pretty, let me tell you. I won’t bore you with all the little details of my trip, but I will tell you that it was an amazing experience that has changed my life. I conquered soooo many fears, cried waaay more than I should have, opened up baggage that had been collecting dust in the back of my mind for years, and most importantly I made friendships that I probably will never forget.

Okay, I get what you’re thinking, “How is any of this bad?” And you’re on the right track, but you’re missing one major point: in the beginning of this speech I said that this internship was an ‘amazing opportunity’ and I meant it. If stepping out of my comfort zone and having complete creative freedom were the only 'negatives' of this summer then one can only imagine the infinite positives that I could take away from it.

leadership intensive interns

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