What a week! There are so many unexpected life lessons emerging from my first TED experience that I thought I'd share them with you this week.
But first . . . I always feel disconnected when people jump into enthusiastic conversations assuming that I know what they're talking about. I've only known about TED for a couple of years so if you don't know about it, let me introduce you:
TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. It's now curated/organized by Chris Anderson and its scope has become ever broader. There are now two annual conferences - TED Conference in Long Beach (with TEDActive - people watching live from Palm Springs) and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh.
TEDTalks began as a simple attempt to share what happens at TED with the world. Under the moniker ideas worth spreading, talks were released online. They rapidly attracted a global audience in the millions.
The TEDx program gives communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently.
Lessons from TED
The first lesson I learned is about vulnerability (no suprise). The folks in the picture are raising their hands in response to two questions that I asked during my talk:
1. How many of you struggle to be vulnerable because you think of vulnerability as weakness? Hands shot up across the room!
2. When you watched people on this stage being vulnerable, how many of you thought it was courageous? Hands shot up across the room!
I'll be totally honest with you about my experience last week . . . I was absolutely terrified. I was in my PJs by 5pm some nights and I think I cried a little bit everyday.
I was the last speaker of the week and the thought of being vulnerable is what scared me the most. I loved seeing that raw truth and openness in the other speakers, but I wanted to impress this audience. I didn't want them to see my kitchen-table self - they were too important, too successful, too famous.
I want to experience your vulnerability but I don't want to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me.
I'm drawn to your vulnerability but repelled by mine.
As I walked on the stage, I focused my thoughts on Steve, who was sitting in the audience, my sisters back in Texas, and some of the other folks who were mostly in the TEDActive audience. I took a deep breath and recited my vulnerability mantra: Show up and let yourself be seen.
I honestly don't remember much of what I said, but I know that I'm knee-deep in the vulnerability hangover AGAIN! It took me weeks to recover from the "What did I just do?" after TEDxHouston.
In the song Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen writes, "Love is not a victory march, its'a cold and broken hallelujah."
Love is a form of vulnerability and if you replace the word love with vulnerability in that line, it's just as true. If we always expect to feel victorious after being vulnerable, we will be dissapointed. In our culture, wholeheartedness is often a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue.