For those who are not familiar with TED, it’s a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short and powerful talks (see ted.com).
There are independently organised TED events around the globe, including an annual one in Sydney which I attended last week (see www.tedxsydney.com).
It was a full day event, filled with a variety of topic talks, food, and some pretty awesome musical performances. The talk topics ranged widely – some were inspiring, many were thought-provoking, and some were too out of this world to comprehend.
- why we should not be supporting orphanages;
- what motivates individuals to take risks;
- how we can save the Rhinos from becoming extinct;
- breakthroughs in quantum technology; and
- and the importance of sustainable fashion.
I took something away from every talk and performance. However, there were two main themes that stood out for me, which are outlined below.
Life is precious: be present
I certainly was not expecting to cry at this event (especially not in front of my friends and colleagues!). But one of the talks was a real tear jerker.
Peta Murchison commenced her talk by explaining how she would put flowers in her 6 year old daughter’s hair when she died. She went on to explain that these are the things she has had to think about and plan for, as a mother with a daughter who has a rare genetic disease which will take her young life.
Peta’s ordeal of watching her young daughter Mia lose her ability to walk, talk, see and smile was heart wrenching.
Yet I was inspired by Peta’s strength and courage at being able to speak to such a large audience about her terrifying situation, to raise awareness for the disease.
And I was moved by her ability to recognise the goodness in people, despite her life of grief.
“Just when you think there is no hope, you find hope in the hopeless”, she stated, when reminiscing about the kindness and empathy shown by strangers and friends supporting her cause.
We all worry about things which, in comparison, pale in insignificance. So how does this incredible woman get through each ‘unspeakably sad’ day? She focuses on the present moment.
By focusing on the present, and letting go of tomorrow, Peta allows herself to focus on what really matters.
We could all do with a reminder about the importance of living in the present moment, where, as Peta stated, “life is more vivid and beautiful”.
Gill Hicks survived the London terrorist bombings in 2005, but lost both legs from just beneath her knees.
Prior to the bombing, Gill was focused on her highly successful career in the architecture and design world. After the bomb hit, she spent an hour holding on to dear life, before someone came to her aid.
She spent this hour contemplating her whole life.
Perhaps she could have done more, lived more, seen more, danced more? But her priority and her focus, until this moment, had always been on her work.
The title on her business card had mattered to her.
But clearly it no longer mattered at that moment, after the bomb, down in that tunnel.
Her rescuers didn’t know that she was the head of a department at The Design Council.
They didn’t know that she published architecture and design journals.
Or that she was a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Gill’s life was saved purely because she was a human being.
It is that “unconditional love and respect for each other [that] can save and transform lives”.
Wow! Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all able to focus on our core similarities, rather than our differences? Does it have to take a life-changing trigger for us to take stock of our lives?
What would you do more of if you were not so focused on work?
And the spoons?!
…yes, I really did learn to play the spoons.
The awesomely cool Deb “Spoons” Perry took a crowd of 2500 people through a quick lesson on spoon playing, and we all joined her for a 5 minute Guinness world record attempt for having the most people playing spoons in one location.
There is some sneaky video evidence of my attempt at spoon playing (thanks Enjel!)…which I will not be sharing!!