The Journey of An Idea Worth Sharing
Another incident hits our news feed where the linking element was the description of the victim, as seen by the assailant, as only one or two stereotypical descriptors. And that was enough to set in motion a series of tragic actions without actually seeing the person beyond this limited view. The news feed then deepens the understanding and ability to see this victim by expanding on all the details of who this person really is – or was.
My journey in leadership and communication has been brought round to studying the archetypes through Culture Talk and how they impact our connecting and our cultures by helping us identify our values and beliefs. Through a life steeped in studying theatre and story, it revealed itself a perfect tool as it linked my theatre world to our coaching/training business.
The repeated destruction justified by stereotype meets the age-old wisdom of the multifaceted archetype. Now add that…
I get to give a TEDx talk.
An idea worth sharing.
A talk of an idea worth sharing.
I hear the call to give voice to the outrage and deep sadness I feel in those who feel unheard or silenced again and again. But not directly for who will hear that from me, this older white woman — as I was so aptly and pointedly labeled by a fellow speaker? Through the use of a tool or technique. I’m a teacher. Always have been. What idea could I possibly share that would have any impact? Carry any weight? Make any difference?
These ideas grew and morphed, and by the time I was backstage about to walk out alone, to share this idea in a talk, not a speech, I’m thinking “oh, goodness – or something like that – I really hope I’ve figured out how to make this an idea worth sharing.”
Thankfully, because of the TEDxCherryCreek process I then feel all the people behind me who got me to this moment of stepping onto the Red Dot. And feeling them, I know they are with me, and before I know it, I’m stepping back off the stage. The 11 minutes are over and a wave of glorious “heck, yeah” comes over me. May a seed have been planted and may it grow. A seed of an idea worth sharing.
I’m not sure I’ve prepared as intensely for anything in a really long time. That mattered because the talk matters. And it mattered because I didn’t do this alone. Far from it. This process becomes about community in a unique and powerful way.
I speak often, I train/facilitate all the time and I’m a professional actor – I have decades of experience sharing ideas.
The Red Dot seemed different. More intense than I had anticipated. It carries with it the expectation of ideas that are worth people’s time to tune in to, to take up space, to share a stage and a platform.
The process they laid out was different than anything I had experienced or even considered. We are to brain dump on paper and then, without notes, share with a series of invited audiences who watch the idea as it is and give feedback guided by 3 specific questions.
Time kept escaping me and excuses filled in.
I had experienced the suggested process in the rehearsal. Interesting to see what comes out of my mouth. Fascinating that it is a process that is repeatable and allows the talk to evolve and deepen. The next rehearsal was coming up and I hadn’t done my homework: I’m a rule follower and it bothered me – a bit.
But time was tight and… and… excuses.
Then the gift from a fellow speaker in this cohort and fellow performer. “Do it! It’s really cool and really helpful.” And then one additional excellent piece of advice from her – “choose people who love you.” Yes, that’s what I needed to hear to keep the expected anxiety at bay.
In a process that suggests that you share your fledging idea and get input and feedback, I realized the loving part was super important. And I knew I needed people with opinions as well!
So I kicked in and sent out a batch of emails inviting colleagues and friends to join the process for my TED talk – and people responded! I had given very little turnaround time and fabulous, loving people jumped in to give of their time and input. My heart was filled. Nerves of course still ran the show, even though these were old friends of mine.
And WOW! I write, dump my ideas on paper, put it away, share the talk, timed to 10 minutes. They write feedback and then share the feedback with me. What’s my idea worth sharing? What info did you want more of or was missing? And what else would be good for me to know?
Four rounds of that with small, loving and opinionated audiences of 4-5 — people from all realms of my life: professional and personal, who’ve known me all my life or just met me within the year.
And the talk grew and expanded and deepened through the input of these amazing people. I felt strongly that each and every one took it very seriously, and the candid feedback and curious questions helped me take it more seriously as well.
I had HR professionals suggest which words to use or not. A DEI specialist’s questions solidified the importance of emphasizing the age-old wisdom in the archetypes. I had a former police officer question the directness of the mention of violence and others request that I speak even more directly to that fact. I had artists and actors and a PR specialist and teachers and a corporate attorney and a social justice preacher – each challenging words and concepts.
I rehearsed again and again. I worked with my team and rehearsed again with a few of my fellow cohort members. It was messy and my technique barely carried through. Some comments reassured and some comments reminded me bluntly how I show up. I was pushed to drop in even more to truth and universality in order to show up, with my one voice on that dot and by speaking for the many, make a difference.
Great ideas from my middle of the night awakenings, from my colleagues but no through line. Many stories, but what holds it together in order for the idea to breathe and have life?
My supporters saw the through line when I didn’t, and they believed in it.
I kept working it.
Kept questioning and asking.
I’m not remembering clearly when it locked in because I remember before and I remember after.
I had an arc! The story hung together, and I needed no notes because the concepts built on each other.
Ah, then I realized I’ve been in this little zoom box and I need to get on a stage since I’ll be on a stage. My dear theatre friend gave the actor feedback and guidance – all the little things I needed to realize I was doing that undermined the message. Get out of the way – be the vehicle not the message itself.
And my team listened and shared tweaks again and again.
So patient and demanding in the most supportive way.
And I talked it to myself everywhere – while walking the dogs, while driving, in the shower and before drifting off to sleep and when I awoke in the night.
I wanted the talk in my bones – so I could share from my heart.
One demon from a past performance surfaced three days out – and I crashed emotionally. Wow, a talk in a pandemic. A Ted talk. I can’t let down all these people who have helped me. I thought, pull it together Blair.
An attitude shift came. I’ve got this. I’ve worked on this because it matters. Hard work is needed for excellence or at least aiming for excellence.
I wrote it out in thought chunks, and I spoke it out again and again.
I needed to trust the process. “Fearless”, the theme of our event, comes as I step in and trust.
Do the work.
And then work even harder.
My voice and message carries with it the notes of my community – and my one song rings true because of the many. Fearless comes as I realize I’m but one part of a loving and challenging expansive community.
Fearless to be me and share my one idea: Can we see each other? Truly see each other and be curious enough to learn more. Be aware of our stereotyping as a destructive habit and choose instead the age-old tool of archetype, story and characters to see our fantastic multifaceted nature playing a variety of roles in our shared journey. Not exclude but include, not make them other but to see our shared humanity, and not limit but keep expanding.
We need to be fearless enough to stop the cycle of exclusion, to truly commit to seeing each other and wanting to know more.