When Noah benShea takes a wrong turn, his wife rolls her eyes and quips, “So ‘The Compass’ strikes again.” She’s teasing him with a reference to the title of his most recent book, A Compass for Healing. She could also be referring to the time Larry King called benShea “The Compass” because of his uncanny ability to guide people down the road to emotional healing and self-improvement.
BenShea, a Santa Barbara resident, is a bestselling author, poet, and philosopher who has dedicated his life to inspiring and encouraging others. A highly sought after public orator, benShea regularly speaks at universities, major businesses, and other organizations. He is also published in 18 languages and is quoted on millions of Starbucks cups. This year, benShea will extend the scope of his outreach to include television viewers nationwide.
In March, PBS will broadcast The Journey to Greatness, a television special featuring one of benShea’s lectures on the issues of love, faith, and honesty and how all three affect our lives. BenShea hopes that in his message, people will find truth and be able to channel it into their lives and their personal journey to greatness. “My hope is that this show will be a source of strength to a lot of people who can in turn be a source of strength to others,” said benShea. His show represents a beacon of hope for those in crisis or need. BenShea hopes that The Journey to Greatness will resonate with people falling on hard times this year. “These are really tough times in a lot of peoples’ lives,” said benShea. After all, life isn’t about the wealth we amass, but it’s about “the wealth of who we are,” according to benShea.
During the first segment of The Journey to Greatness, benShea explores the idea that power and greatness are distinct entities and suggests, “There are a lot of people with power who aren’t so great and a lot of people with no power who are pretty great.” A central component of benShea’s message is the idea that as humans, we are not only capable of greatness but also have a duty to pursue it. The second segment of the broadcast features a message about love, faith, and honesty, all of which benShea deems issues that can haunt our lives. “I’m hoping that, at the very least, people will find themselves more honest, more loving, and with more faith in themselves,” he said. “Only then can they be more honest, more loving, and have more faith in others.
“We are responsible for doing what we’ve always promised ourselves we would do in our lives,” he said. “All of us have told ourselves what we would do, what we could do-now it’s the time to honor your life by being who you are.” BenShea is certainly honoring his own promise, the one he made at a young age to positively influence the lives of other people and to leave his mark on the world. As National Laureate for the ALS Association, he interacts with thousands of people touched by Lou Gehrig’s disease, offering them hope for the future and for a fuller life.
One man’s story reveals the nature of the change benShea’s work has induced in the ALS community. By using a stick in his mouth and breaking frequently for oxygen, this man typed an email to benShea thanking him for his positive words. For benShea, the little things-the thank-you notes like this, the smiling faces-are the perks of living a life based on building up other people. After all, his life is built on self-sacrifice. “I get up every morning and go downstairs at 6 a.m., sit in a room by myself, and type because this is the work the Lord gave me to do and I’m just trying to do it,” he said. “I’m not expecting to finish it, but neither am I excused from it. This is my work, just like everybody else has their work.”
As a speechwriter and longtime columnist, benShea is well-versed in the art of finding sources of inspiration and channeling them into his work. And while he finds the “whole world and everyone in it” to be an inspiration, he has discovered that living in Santa Barbara puts him in closer touch with the natural world and himself. “I’ve long felt that living in Santa Barbara has allowed me to come back from a public life [to] the quietude and truth of the environment where we live,” benShea said.
The premise of benShea’s success is his ability to interweave elements of his quirky, fun personality with his wise, mature worldview. He relates to his listeners and readers. He’s not a philosopher of lofty and pretentious character-he’s an ordinary person with extraordinary gifts. His ability to articulate a vision, communicate ideas, and associate with his audience has turned him into a world-renowned figure, the picture of wisdom and healing for so many.
BenShea finds comfort in knowing that he has been able to positively affect so many lives. But, he’s wary of welcoming too much praise. It’s his duty to make a difference in the lives of other people and his TV special is just part of the plan. “It would be very difficult for this man of words to find the words to express how much my life has been enriched by how my work has touched the lives of others,” benShea said. “The smallest stone dropped in the widest sea will send vibrating circles onto shores we will never know. We all matter. Of all the things we can make in life, make a difference.”