Tell To Inspire

An idea. A dream. That could grow into something big. Something called Social Impact. Has such a drive ever occurred to you? What was your dream? What steps did you take to make it come true? How did you find support? How did you deal with setbacks? And why did you persevere when it became difficult? 

I get asked many times to contribute to projects, initiatives or ideas. At first I thought I should step in, when the idea sounded good. I really could add something to it. Then I learnt, it is not about the idea. It is about the person who sees a possible future worth to create. This person with his/her dream, powers, perseverance, grit is worth to support. And I would give this person my attention and time. 

His name is Edward Molkenboer. We met in December 2020. Online, in a zoom session, of course. He explained to me Why his higher goal has become to create social impact. Here our life stories blend together: loss of dear ones too soon, caring for elderly, understanding and feeling the burden of restaurant owners. And then the beauty of his plan kicks in: by creating a theater tour, tickets need to be sold. When you buy a ticket, a tasty lunch will be prepared for one person in the elderly home before he/she enjoys the live stream. You can enjoy the performance. You could also sign in for an online workshop 'story telling'. The local restaurant gets paid, the local theater gets paid. In management terms: making the cake big enough for every one to take a bite. 

Yes, of course dreaming this dream takes some time. And adjusting the pace: not too slow, causing to lose momentum. Not too quick, causing losing team members and supporters on this journey. Keeping the vision of the social impact simple and clear: so others can design their own walking path towards it. 

Today we are in the middle of organising the first theater performance. All the time he is energetic telling and explaining the next update. Not resting, but connecting with people who can help and add to the social impact. Admiring what people can create if they put their attention, grit and time to each other. And grateful for what can happen if you unite them to build something bigger that themselves. Something that cannot emerge by its idea only. 

Tell To Inspire is literally climbing on the stage of a theater. I do not know what will happen next. I feel excited and ready. May this little story benefit you too. 

Tripped over Envision

Enjoying my cup of tea I think of failures in the past to share with you. This specific one is very much related enthousiasm and drive.

I used to work for the national government of The Netherlands. I was curious about policy-making, how things get done. How people behave. And it was fun to try to become one of 'them'. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it did not. I just very much enjoyed bringing in a different voice, a different point of view. And get people to move. And boost change for the better - if possible. 

Especially when I gained game-development knowledge and skills in 2009. Using serious games to support change in organisations was challenging, difficult, but possible. I had acces to see results in water management companies, that used simulations and games for better understanding technicial, social future processes. These simulations and games were able to lift up and carry a clean conversation about something that has not arrived yet. I was very impressed how people's mindset, attitude and behaviour spontaneously changed.

And I thought: we need to use these innovative tools as games and simulations in the government as well to support non-technological change. What I had seen, others can see too. I started to talk and promote.

Talking, presenting and involving people to play serious games. Not easy without solid, relevant material and games. So during one occasion, a manager told me: ' ... I listen to you because you are enthousiastic about it. But I have no clue what you are talking about'. Ai!

Here are the lessons I learnt:

  1. no matter how abstract the concept is, that you want to explain; find an image or a metaphore to support your story
  2. take it easy when you are really enthousiastic about an idea. Build in double-check-questions to see the listener is still with you. 
  3. allow the listener some space so he/she can discover the unique points of your abstract idea

Boy, it took me some years to accept we all are different wired. And that is ok, that somebody else chooses to walk a different path to the same goal. May this little story benefit you too. 

Failure Turn Around

Failing and failures. Sooner or later we experience one failure. And failing might cause you to feel sad, angry or stupid.

To share one from my life. Being a student, I once misunderstood the word 'cuisine' with 'kitchen'. In Dutch the exact same word: keuken. While the teacher expected an answer exploring cultural and taste sensations, I kept rambling about renovating the space. Very awkward for him and myself. 

How long did it take me to find a learning in this failing experience? I must admit: years. I could not forgive myself how stupid I had been. Was I not paying attention to the question? What was I thinking? I asked myself many times.

Fortunately I collected many answers. This one resonates the most to me: Stress shuts down your senses. You can only think of flight, fight or freeze. No other thought, observation, feeling gets processed up there in your brains. Your survival modus has taken over. I learnt: it can happen to me. It can happen to you. It can happen to any one. Nothing you should keep feeling sad, angry or stupid about it. 

I took it one step further. This experience shaped my beliefs about being a professional facilitator. I try to create a very safe space for participants. In order to prevent stress kicks in for them. These 3 simple steps: 

  1. share personal information that is not work-related. Connect before dealing with content. For example: what was the best thing that happened to you today?
  2. engage the participants by inviting them to help in facilitation. Ask for volunteers to do tasks as time-keeping for the breaks, watching the chat conversation. Or remind me if I use abstract language too much. 
  3. think out loud if appropriate. Participants can follow you step by step. In this way they can 'see' the path they walk with you. And keep their stress levels low. If they need to ask a question, they can do immediately.

I hope you like how this long-time-ago experience still plays a role in my todays's work. May this little story benefit you too.