In my previous post, I attempted to describe Cerebrate as the event it was. It described the who, what, where, when, and why. But Cerebrate really isn’t a logistical thing; rather, it’s an opportunity for personal self-discovery. My guess is everyone who participated learned something new about him or herself. The process of sharing, conversing, and focusing without the distractions of everyday living allows new personal discoveries.
Here are five things I learned either about myself or about my future self.
The first two insights were about lessons I learned from my parents – one from Mom, one from Dad. While I’ve been aware of these things for years, I never expressed them publicly in this precise manner.
- My father was a man who could make or fix almost anything. He built a house, he fixed the cars, he repaired the toaster, and he fixed flat tires on my bicycle. He knew carpentry, welding, electrical, plumbing, and mechanics. If he didn’t know how to do something, he’d get a book and figure it out. When he built a vacation house, he drew the plans himself. Dad was a fearless doer. He was an excellent planner. From Dad, I learned that I could do anything I wanted to do. All it takes is time, effort, and figuring it out. I learned how to plan and execute projects.
- My mother was a woman who taught my siblings and me responsibility. At a young age (maybe 10 or so), I remember my mother telling me, ‘You are now going to start making your own decisions. You can decide how to spend your money. You can decide what sports or activities to participate in.’ The one caveat was that while I now got to decide, I was also going to be held accountable for the resulting consequence of my choices. Mom taught me how to make decisions and be accountable for the outcomes. She taught me personal responsibility.
Wow, how cool is that? Dad gave me the confidence to do anything and Mom taught how to make good choices based on personal responsibility. I can do anything I want as long as I’m willing to accept the consequences.
The next two insights came from one-on-one conversations with two other participants. They gave me ideas specifically useful to my speaking business today. The first conversation took place in Sanjay’s car as we rode home at the conclusion of the event. The second conversation took place just a few days ago, a week after the event, on the telephone with Resa. To both I’m grateful for their generosity.
- An opportunity exists internationally for my SpeakingGump business. Sanjay’s idea is to teach foreign companies how to effectively do business with American companies. By partnering with a training company, I could be the ‘event’ guy. Event meaning special appearances, big hype, lots of energy, and the simple message of Gumption. The training company would then provide the back-end training of how and why but it could all be built on the spirit of Gumption. As the world gets smaller, finding ‘ambassadors’ to build bridges between cultures makes good business sense. This is an idea that can be acted upon immediately. Finding the right partner will be the trick.
- Core message. As a result of the open atmosphere and high trust amongst Cerebrate participants, I shared my ongoing challenge of narrowing my focus and balancing the Steve/Forrest act. The struggle has been a matter of integrity – what feels right versus what I think will sell. Resa, as an expert in branding/advertising/positioning, approached my dilemma as partly a today issue but mostly as a long-term opportunity. Is the character the purpose or simply the means to another end? Are the lessons from my struggle of identity really the same struggle most people feel? Isn’t authenticity the issue all of us struggle with daily? … and … wasn’t Forrest so genuinely authentic, so at peace with himself, and so capable of sleeping well at night simply because his inside self was perfectly aligned with his outer self? So thanks, Resa, for your insights – the problem is not completely solved, but an important new piece of the puzzle has been clearly identified.
Finally, the last insight is something I’ve been privately thinking about for a long time. The Cerebrate venue and experience helped bring some clarity to how it could work for me. This isn’t a shovel-ready project … rather, it’s something I’m formally adding to my five- to ten-year goals.
- Small group workshops. One thing I really enjoy is getting together with a small group of like-minded individuals for a few days of intense learning. It occurs to me that the mix of people is probably the single most critical factor. I’m confident my travels and speaking opportunities will bring me in contact with those special people.
The venue also plays a very important role. It must be held in a place that is comfortable for the participants first and foremost. It also should be unique and inspirational to the senses. In short, it should be a place that sparks creativity. I just happen to live in such a place.
Imagine a retreat house where ten to fifteen people can comfortably live for two, three, or four days. The main meeting room has a sweeping 360-degree view of the Bitterroot Mountains and Bitterroot Valley. The nearby barn has four-wheelers for trips into the mountains. There are several walking paths over ten to twenty acres. There are outdoor benches and tables for hosting warm-weather discussions. Horses and cows are visible in the distant pastures. Meals are both delicious and nutritious. Creative ideas, new friends, and new business opportunities flourish in a gump-like experience. Everyone leaves with a spirit of Gumption. This is possible … all I have to do is make it happen.
Ideas that strictly rattle around within your head are only thoughts – dreams without a basis in reality. Thoughts that leave your lips in conversation or are written down and publicly shared are ideas that will start taking on a life of their own. Anything is possible. You only have to take responsibility. The world is small and getting smaller. The smaller world is creating many new opportunities. Being true to yourself, having your inner and outer selves aligned is the gump-like definition of integrity. And creating a place where others can come visit, inspire, and be inspired sound pretty close to heaven.
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Next Blog Date: February 27, 2012