Monday, November 19, 2012

Party with Yourself for Life

When we and our students arrived at TEDxYouthSanDiego yesterday, we were given goody bags with a pen and notebook inside for taking notes.  I knew ahead of time that I'd want to write down memorable quotes and ideas, and when they discouraged use of devices in the theatre, I went to town with the little notepad.

The concept behind TED (technology, entertainment, design) Talks is the power of "ideas worth spreading"--the notion that sharing ideas provides the potential for seeds to germinate, people to collaborate, and exciting innovations to change the world.

I'm spreading the ideas I wrote in my notepad with you here.  Click the video links to watch--you'll be glad you did.

We watched two videos by Jason Silva; the first was "The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck," in which Silva explains that our senses of awe help us survive.  Feeling awe increases our sense of well-being.  I know this to be true because when I behold a breathtaking natural setting or witness or hear goosebump-inducing moments of human kindness, generosity, or insight, I feel both in awe and really good about myself and our world.  I love that someone is sharing the idea that awe is important.

Silva's other film (watch it to see how excited this man gets about riffing on deep thoughts), "Radical Openness," encourages the "free exchange" of ideas, so that ideas can "have sex" (via Matt Ridley) and spawn new ones.  "Imagination allows us to conceive of delightful future possibilities...and pull the present forward to meet (them)..."  Silva's wonderings about what would have happened if oil paint hadn't been invented by Van Gogh's time or musical instruments by Beethoven's era made me think about all the people whose creativity might have gone one leap greater with new technologies.  Nevertheless, the evolution of ideas spurs generations of awesome innovations forward.

Three Lego designer/builders spoke to us about why they chose their jobs and how Lego workshops function.  One of the women was an art major, but added film to her degree because she "wanted to create worlds."  Now she designs Minilands for LEGOLANDs worldwide.  The designers explained that they remind themselves to "think outside the brick" with the saying "Studs Not on Top."  SNOT supports the notion that Lego doesn't always stack vertically--many constructions feature sideways stacks, too--think about that for a minute! They left our students with the advice to "find your support team and the right state of mind to build your future."

Derek Siver's video "Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy" struck a chord.  He demonstrates that it's the "first follower" of a goofy guy dancing in public who transforms that "lone nut into a leader."  We see that the new followers tend to emulate the first followers versus the original leader; the groundbreaker may have thought of it or done it first, but his first followers actually create the movement.  Siver reminds us to "nurture" our first followers "as equals," because "leadership is over glorified."  I interpreted his message as advice to be on the lookout for opportunities to be first followers for leaders with a really good idea or positive movement waiting for the crowd to take notice and mobilize.

Amidst each of four speaker series, a man promoting a free meditation movement (in prisons, for example),  led us through brief, simple meditations.  He urged us to work on changing our own minds versus trying to change forces beyond our control, and we marveled at how much better we felt when we only closed our eyes, focused on breathing, and let our minds wander for a few minutes.  "Who made you feel better?"  he asked us, pointing out that since we are always with ourselves, it's quite convenient to help ourselves have better days.

Which reminded me of speaker Grant Korgan's words to our youthful audience:  "You are the person you get to party with for life, for better or worse.  Choose positivity.  Love.  And push on."  Korgan, paralyzed in a snowmobiling accident, trekked to the South Pole after two years of physical therapy, urging himself over and over to "push on for just ten more feet."  We all have ten more feet in us.

The photo is blurry, but message is clear

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