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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do you Believe in Infinite Potential?

As we (get older) gain more experience in the world there is often the tendency to default to what we know will work rather than experimenting with what might work. The word "might" always leaves the door open to possible failure, and the vulnerability associated with the potential to fail is an uncomfortable place we prefer to avoid. Potential-limiting.

Yesterday we had some friends for dinner and as the evening wound down we ended up with a small group discussing Einstein's theory of relativity, which suggests time and space are not as linear as we presume.  The interesting thing about this is the discussion was that it was a high level look at the possibilities, taking place mainly between a 12 year old and a 17 year old, the latter who had just written an essay on the subject for a scholarship application. The application is to Cambridge, who award four full scholarships to Canadians each  year. She definitely sees herself earning one of these spots. Infinite potential.

What if we approached our opportunities open to the possibilities, knowing we may be wildly successful... or we may fall flat and have to pick ourselves up and try again? Who was the first person to look at a stalk of grain in a field and wonder how they could turn that into something else? Who made the first mills that turned wheat into flour, or bakers that turned flour into bread?  We can imagine the first loaves were not spectacular, but the potential was there, and now we have literally thousands of varieties of loaves made from a seemingly unending variety of ingredients. Infinite potential.

When it comes to meetings and events there seems to be a default to the safe zone - open rounds or theatre style seating, presenters who talk at us, food and beverages that are easy to provide but often nutritionally light (think danishes/pastries, sandwiches with processed meat and white bread, etc.), and little room for feedback. Safe.

What if instead we considered the infinite potential of choice and gave the responsibility for the potential learning and connections to our participants? If we provided events that considered content, program design and meeting flow at every step? This might include nutritional, brain-friendly food choices, presenters who welcome feedback and questions using comfortable-for-the-participant methods (ARS, text etc.) during the sessions, attendees able to share content with each other both during the session and in white space, and ultimately where we collaborate and create a space where connections that allow  you to apply your new learning to your current situations can be made, enhancing your overall experience.  

Anytime you doubt the potential of thinking differently, consider how the people within corporations such as Apple and Oracle are considering the potential impact of each decision and making choices that ripple; or watch an episode of Extreme Home Makeover, where they not only change a home, they change lives, week by week, one thoughtful decision at a time. There is infinite potential if we choose to embrace potential.

What if we all looked at an old tree stump and saw instead a great place to spend time and contemplate?

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