On Friday, October 28, 2016, I was not expecting for my mind and soul to become flooded with over fifteen transformative and innovative vignettes by attending my first TEDx Charlotte event. Throughout the day, my vocabulary was increased, my creativity was sparked, and my spirit to help to others was invigorated. As I entered into the Dale F. Halton Theatre at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte, NC, I was immediately immersed into an environment where everyone was encouraged to bring their personal “magic” to “uplift the world around you”. The theme of this conference was “Explore”. The emcee explained that the etymology of the word “explore” originated from the Latin term “explorare” which is translated as “to cry out”, therefore, our “souls were crying out for something new”. It was our duty to explore something new and share our elevated knowledge with others.
Winn Maddrey and his team successfully organized this wonderful event that was attended by over 1,100 individuals. According to www.tedxcharlotte.com, “the TEDx Program is designed to help communities, organizations and individuals to spark conversation and connection through local TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) -like experiences. At our TEDx Charlotte event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized in the spirit of ideas worth spreading.”
The website definition of a TEDx conference was pale in comparison to actually seeing the conference live. I even discovered that I was a polymath. What is a polymath? Actually, most individuals are polymaths and we just did not have a terminology for it. According to Merriam-Webster, a “polymath” is a person of encyclopedic learning. Many people (including our children) are familiar and very versed on multiple subjects, ideas, and philosophies. This is a direct correlated reason for why many of us have hobbies and interests outside of our profession and/or education. Our spirits desire that we learn more, discover more, and explore more.
The TEDx Charlotte guests heard various topics ranging from “The Power of Beauty” to “Education isn’t the only thing, it’s everything”. The diverse prolific speakers for this year’s conference were, Jonell Logan (independent curator), David Jessup, Jr.(Founder of Digi-Bridge), Charles Hunt (resilience expert), Anne Madden (postdoctoral researcher in biology), James Ford (program director at the Public School Forum of North Carolina), Ben Vandgrift (software engineer), Lara Americo (musician and songwriter), Mark Moore (co-founder of MANA Nutrition), Scott Galloway (film writer and director), Lou Solomon (author), Laurie Smithwick( Grammy nominated designer and founder of LEAP Design), and Naeem Fazal (founding pastor of Mosaic Church). The lessons and words of advice were so vast and dynamic. I cannot share everything that I learned, but here are few nuggets that I obtained and would like to share with you:
- We must break the “Master Narrative” (a term defined by Toni Morrison as “whatever ideological script that is being imposed by the people in authority on everybody else”). We must include others within the story. We must include everyone within our life’s canvas and paintings. We must strive to embrace all people and their cultures to appreciate its artistic aesthetic (Logan)
- Computer science should be taught to all children from kindergarten to 12th grade. In 2020, there will be one million unfilled jobs in computer science. This is largely due to the fact that only 1 in 5 students are enrolled in computer science classes. Unfortunately, many low income kids and children of color are disenfranchised because home computers and laptops are not a high priority. However, the power of technology and computer science education can equal multiple opportunities for our future generations (Jessup)
- There are 10 simple ways to have a better conversation (Celeste Headlee):
- Do not multitask: be present in the conversation.
- Assume that you have something to learn: set aside your own personal opinions.
- Ask open ended questions: yes and no answers do not allow for an engaging dialogue.
- Go with the flow: as different thoughts come into your mind, dismiss it and let them go.
- If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
- Do not equate their experiences with yours: all experiences are unique and no one’s situation is exactly the same.
- Try not to repeat yourself.
- Stay out of the weeds: people really do not care about exact dates or details that are not relevant to the discussion.
- Listen: no one ever listens their way out of a job.
- Be brief: A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject (My Sister).
- The worst of life could not destroy the best of us because we are still standing. Resilience is the ability to adapt to negative change. Therefore, trauma has a purpose, if we have the proper perspective, proper attitude, and proper partnership to ask for help. (Hunt)
In just the few minutes it took you to read this article, you have become a polymath. You have learned more about yourself and others around you. Whether we are a direct learner (like Da Vinci, who used everything that he learned to build upon additional knowledge) or an opportunist learner (like Benjamin Franklin, who acquired a massive amount of knowledge on various subjects), our souls are crying out to explore. We should make every effort to learn something new each day and share our “special magic” with the world. You are the gift, so just stay present.
For more information on TEDx Charlotte visit: www.tedxcharlotte.com, Twitter @TEDxCharlotte, or like their TEDxCharlotte Facebook page