Caring Chaos

Initially, I hadn’t planned on participating in the Sustainability Project at TEDActive .

When I first saw the email about the project teams, I thought it was too big a time commitment (two hours a day!), especially for my first TEDActive conference. I also didn’t want to sign up to “lead” anything, as I thought there were many others more qualified than I. Oh, how things change!

Shortly after receiving the project team invitation from the TED folks, I made the mistake of posting a note on the TEDActive Facebook group asking if there were other sustainability professionals who wanted to connect during the conference. This prompted Sarah to personally invite me to participate in the Sustainability Project Team. When I told her I didn’t want to lead anything, she explained that all team participants are leaders. I just couldn’t turn down this invitation.

During our first meeting on Monday,  I thought we spent a lot of time going in circles. At least we did so by writing with dry erase markers on the windows of the Living Center; boy was that fun! Over the course of the next couple days we met frequently during breaks and meals. I continued to feel like our team wasn’t getting very far, and felt frustrated by the brainstorming process.  

But last night something magical happened. We all agreed that the TED Talks should include calls to action. We decided that the TEDx Curator platform should be expanded so that TED docents or guides could link TEDTalks to action items and serve as ambassadors to their cause. We also thought that TEDx events should have local calls to action in which their participants can engage.

WOW! Now that’s powerful stuff.

I also learned a lot about myself during this collaborative process. Having run my own business for the past eight years (up until February, 2010), sometimes I forget how to play well with others. Focus and patience are not my strong suits, and my participation in the sustainability project really pushed me to hone both those skills. As my good friend, and our project spokesperson, Ted Ning of LOHAS said, conversations in groups like this often contract and expand numerous times before they get to their end destination. The good news is that I think we’ve finally arrived, a lot more focused and even a bit more patient.

Thank you TED and and my sustainability project cohorts, for this inspirational growth experience!

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