The foundational belief of TEDxRockCreekPark is and always has been: We are all put on the planet with a purpose and our deepest desire is to fully express that purpose. That said, the theme of the conference has grown and matured several times over the past year.
In its infancy, the theme was “Learning to be Different,” focusing on children and adults with learning differences. At its highest level, the intention was to celebrate and embrace the uniqueness of all people, valuing and honoring differences, whatever they may be. But the conference theme felt limiting and the target audience wasn’t clear.
To broaden the possibilities, the theme was changed to the more accessible and challenging, “Learning to Unleash Your Potential.” It focused on learning as a critical element in becoming all that we are capable of being, and it attracted the likes of neuroscientists to our speaker roster. After all, since all of learning occurs in the brain, who better to speak about it? The addition of this distinguished lineup of speakers helped greatly, yet, something was still missing, as if there was a shoe waiting to drop.
That’s when the film, “Finding Joe”, came serendipitously into view. “Finding Joe” is a film produced by one of our speakers, Patrick Solomon, about the work of Joseph Campbell and what he called “the hero’s journey.” Campbell , a renowned mythologist and author, found a common thread in the narrative of all of the world’s great myths, legends and folklore. As it turns out, the greatest myths told throughout human history have the same basic pattern and a plot line focused on the journey of a seemingly ordinary person who reveals themselves as a hero.
This story line invariably includes a call to adventure and a conscious step out of the known world and into the unknown. There, the hero is challenged, gets help, experiences revelation and is ultimately transformed by the experience.
Why should this pattern persist in myths the world over? Perhaps it is because we create stories to draw out the hero within all of us and to inspire us to reach into our untapped potential. And now that we have settled on our theme, we see the “Hero’s Journey” as a metaphor for the conference itself, with its seeming restlessness borne of the desire to become the best version of itself.
TEDxRockCreekPark is a day dedicated to acknowledging and invigorating the hero in all of us. Our speakers will help us discover how we can get out of our own way and foster our greatness. Together, we will hear talks about how to stay focused on possibility when the challenges seem insurmountable. We’ll explore how to stay resilient in the face of setbacks. We will hear about how to learn and how to foster learning in others. And, true to our heroic purpose, we will prepare ourselves to tackle not just our own challenges, but the challenges facing the world around us.
This conference is intended to be a shot of inspiration for the hero in you. Our hope is that your experience at the Hero’s Journey will leave you excited and prepared for the heroic adventures ahead.