It has now been more than a month since TEDxRockCreekPark on 5/4 and my body has finally stopped vibrating. For me, the conference was a complete expression of purpose, a rich and fulfilling experience. TEDxRockCreekPark was based upon the belief that every person on the planet has a purpose and our deepest desire is to fully express that purpose. The Hero’s Journey theme and the intention of the conference was to invite everyone touched by it to connect with their own life’s purpose and to clarify and forward what it means to fully express it.
How does that breakdown? Consider this: Each of us have gifts, qualities, skills or talents that come easily to us that are harder for others. We can tend to discount our gifts because they come so easily. And it is our strengths that define us and make us who we are and they provide the best hint at what our purpose on the planet is.
Why believe that everyone has a purpose? Because if we don’t each have a unique purpose, what is the point of existing? What else will direct our lives? Self-gratification? I suppose.. and at some point, we would tire of even that.
Alan Watts illustrates this point beautifully in the interstitial we opened the conference with called The Dream of Life. (The single most frequent request I received after the conference was for the link to this video.) He says “We are not a fluke. Our own existence is fundamental.” Meaning, we all have a purpose and the employment of that purpose is our life’s work.
OK, so what does all of that have to do with the conference and the Hero’s Journey? Pat Solomon’s talk did a beautiful job of articulating The Hero’s Journey and its meaning. In short, the Hero’s Journey illustrates that as we heed our life’s calling, the call to adventure, we’ll be challenged, we’ll be uncomfortable, we’ll be scared. And that’s OK. Because what is possible on the other side of all of that, is new life, new possibilities, learning and growth. And as we grow, we become an ever more complete expression of our purpose.
A couple of my favorite talks illustrated how some of the greatest challenges we face come from inside us. Alan Fine’s talk helped us see that what limits our ability to achieve our greatest potential is interference we create ourselves. Interference can be a fear of failure or fear of judgment or lack of belief in ourselves. All of which takes away from our true ability. Judson Brewer’s talk pays that off by showing us how we can reduce our own interference through meditation and mindfulness. I see this in my own life and have begun meditating each day.
Learning as Part of the Journey
The role of learning and education in the development of the next generation of heroes was the focus of the second session of the conference. Julie Wilson talked about how we need to change education to create opportunities for our children to learn practical critical thinking and problem solving skills that they’ll need throughout their lives. And Jack Petrash talked about how we need to customize our teaching to the needs of each child. I feel blessed that my child is taught in a school that follows Jack’s teachings.
Expression of Purpose
The third session zeroed in on what it means to express our purpose. Allison Shapira’s song about how she found herself and her purpose was the soundtrack that played in my head for weeks before and after the conference. Another very understated talk that touched me deeply was David Shenk’s talk, Meet My Dad. In it, we got to see the photographs that were the expression of his late father’s purpose and hear about how he never strayed from that purpose, whether or not his work got the acclaim it deserved. David’s poignant stories about his dad and the reverence he held in telling them tapped into the feeling I have for my own dad, my hero, who was in the audience to see his little girl.
In the final session, we explored Heroic Leadership and invited everyone to take an action that honored their inner hero. I have referred to Chris McGoff’s talk with my CEO clients a number of times already. It provides CEOs and any senior leader with a phenomenal road map for leading through highly complex problems. Finally, Marcus Sheridan’s talk about the Honest Economy just felt right! He said what I’ve been feeling for a long time. Give your knowledge away instead of hording it. It’s a true and honest expression of purpose to give away your knowledge. His talk was a delightful bookend to the day.
So what does it all mean? My wish is that the conference and the talks give people hope, help connect them with their purpose and give them sustenance to employ their purpose with pride, vigor and confidence. Please watch these talks and any of the other talks from the conference and know that you are not on the journey alone.
May your journey be purposeful.