Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Why Sometimes It’s Okay to Not Know Where You’ re Going

Having left the venue of Saturday’s TEDxObserver conference, my wife and I climbed on a pair of Boris bikes and set off through the streets of Clerkenwell. “Where are we headed?” my wife asked me. “I have no idea, let’s take some side streets and see where we end up.”

It’s important to explore your curiosity and go on a journey without a destination in mind. That’s why we attended TEDx: to consume multiple voices, stories and ideas. Who knew what the next twenty minutes would bring, what action it might spark?

The 2012 TEDxObserver conference featured a neuroscientist, a community worker, food activist, musicians, a surgeon, a dancing psychologist and an anthropologist. My highlights included Pauline Pearce whose YouTube-captured rant amidst the 2011 riots became an inspiration. Having last seen the South African musician Hugh Masekela at an Anti Apartheid rally in Clapham Common in the ‘80s, it was great to hear him speak again. Then there was Miguel Torres, head of the Spanish winery who’d decided to take action on global warming after watching ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. A great example of the power of entrepreneurs in taking action to make real change. And finally Plan B, the musician and film director who spoke passionately about social injustice and the need to help urban kids discover their passion to get them re-engaged.

So what was the ‘ROI’ on all that?  It’s enough that I broadened my horizons.  It opened my eyes to themes outside my usual world. It moved me,  it got me thinking, it satisfied my curiosity.

Curiosity is an underestimated business tool. In a world of uncertainty where we’re faced with more challenging problems than ever before, you ‘aint going to find the answer in the usual places. You’ll find inspiration  in new places; you’ll need to learn from other industries and analogous businesses. You’ll need curiosity to challenge assumptions.

So on the face of it, Saturday was a great day. But somewhere deeper in our minds the value is being absorbed, mulled over, stored away to inspire us in the future in ways we can’t immediately know.

Whether it’s a bike ride with no destination, a conference with no identifiable return, listening to some new music or hanging out with a bunch of people you’d never usually mix with - try going somewhere you wouldn’t usually go; who knows in what ways it will inspire you.

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