“I had no idea I could do what I do now as a full-time job,” Ron Culberson, author and motivational speaker, says. As with most of us, this speaker, author, and humorist is living a life he once found hard to imagine.
He began his career as a social worker at a hospice care facility located in Northern Virginia. Becoming Director of Quality Service, his work centered around providing care to those and their family nearing life’s end.
While unconventional, his path prepared him for what was to come. “The best kind of story and the best kind of humor is from your own experience,” Culberson says. “If you tell your own story, it’s yours, it’s not anyone else’s.” Culberson regularly shares his stories with others. According to his website, www.ronculberson.com, he has presented to more than 240,000 people in over 1,300 organizations since 1996.
Ron Culberson, Photo Courtesy of Ron Culberson
His stories eventually made their way onto the page. He encountered plenty of other speakers who had become authors, but carefully considered his own path. “I didn’t want to write a book just to write a book,” he says. Yet he possessed a desire to offer more to his clients. “I wanted a take home book for my audiences.”
So he got to work, mining his own personal experiences for material. “I started writing down every story in my life…I came up with 150 possibilities,” he says. A starting point as he crafted four books, including Do It Well. Make It Fun. The Key to Success in Life, Death, and Almost Everything in Between. A book he structured by framing each short chapter with a real-life story (filled with humor, of course). The humorous passages - mixed with poignant, practical lessons – help the reader digest the message Culberson is trying to impart.
“This book only has two steps (Do it well. Make it fun.) and one promise (Success),” he writes in the Introduction. A sort of Occam’s Razor approach to life – that the simplest of explanations is often the most likely to be true. “The concept is so simple. Do things well, make them fun, and you’ll find more success in your life,” he writes.
A principle Culberson has successfully applied to his own life. Rarely do we encounter a professional who truly finds joy in the work that they do on a daily basis. So often, our work can feel devoid of the meaning we so desire. For Culberson, it’s exactly the opposite.
“As a hospice social worker I saw people handle the most serious situations that we’ll ever experience with grace and dignity,” he writes. He credits “this combination of hospice and humor” to be a key part of his success.
In his book, If not now, When?, Culberson does not abandon humor as he delves into life, relationships and work. Using material from columns he wrote for the Herndon Observer, blog posts and other essays, he encourages each of us to make the most of every interaction and experience. Exploring the concept of mindfulness, something he has researched more in the last few years. We cannot eliminate what the present moment is bringing; but, since the present is all we really have, we can choose to savor the good.
Culberson has plenty of experiencesto continue drawing upon. Keeping up with a busy speaking and writing schedule notwithstanding, he still finds time to serve, a quality he believes is in his DNA. He chops wood for people who need it to heat their homes and has trained to become a volunteer ambulance driver in his area. Regardless of what is doing, he finds joy everywhere.
When hearing Culberson speak, it is impossible to refrain from bursting out laughing. We first met Culberson during a speech he gave at the Phoenix World Burn Congress, to a room filled with burn survivors and their families. As he spoke, there was not a person in the room who didn’t erupt in laughter. Yet his speech was also filled with poignant moments, coupled with practical life advice. His approach serving to communicate his understanding of the pain inherent in trauma. As well as the importance of humor.
“[Humor] keeps us in the right perspective,” he says. “I am one of these people that believes it can manage stress.” Humor can also be helpful as we attempt to examine the world around us. “It does create that perspective, when you see humor you are seeing the world from a different angle…”
While Ron Culberson has so very much to share, at the end of the day, he really wants to make you laugh. Whether in person or in writing, he has plenty of jokes to tell. Involving his family, friends, work, and of course, himself. All while trying to help his audiences live more fulfilling lives.
So, if you ever have the chance to hear him speak or read his work, be prepared. You may find yourself laughing more than you expected; and maybe, that’s just the point. After all, who doesn’t like a good laugh?
“A little bit of laughter goes a long way,” he says.
To learn more about Ron Culberson and his work, visit www.ronculberson.com