Lessons in Language and Individuality
Imagine for a moment that you’re invited to discuss with a small group of thought leaders the idea of narrative in the 21st Century. In the invitation informs you that you will give up an entire weekend, there is no agenda, and no other participants are known. The only thing you do know is that the host is this intriguing gentleman whom you’ve had some very thought-provoking conversations with before.
Would you say yes?
Of course, I said yes. Boy, I’m glad I did! Whom I met, what I learned, and my curiosity about what will manifest is still making me ponder almost a week later.
As the other 11 thinkers introduced themselves, I must admit that my IBSC (itty bitty shitty committee) screamed at the top of its lungs. These were people doing tremendous things on a massive scale. I can’t share the invite list, but let’s just say we had social activism, technology, military, politics, global economics, and environmentalism covered. And there I was with my platform of why people need to be able to articulate why they’re awesome.
I won’t go into a long diatribe about the ridiculousness of negative self-talk. We all know that conversation.
Once I got past myself, I listened, I absorbed, I learned.
Lesson No. 1: Try to say yes to intriguing and undefined opportunities as much as you can.
We have all encountered this test. We know we should stick our toes into new arenas. Fear, self-doubt, external forces, and so many more excuses keep us from making that leap of faith into the unknown. I took a risk. For me, the multitude of takeaways is invaluable. Maybe next time they won’t be. I’m ok with that.
The exceptional will always outweigh the dreadful.
Lesson No. 2: Language and Individuality
As I mentioned, we were all from remarkably disparate professions. While we all spoke English, we didn’t speak the same language. Not even close. It came to a head for me when I said, “I believe we’re heading to a world where everything will be bespoke - your clothes, your experiences, your cars, your furniture, everything.” Half the room looked at me with a quizzical look in their eyes. Then the military guy asked, “What does bespoke mean?” I explained, and we moved on.
The language barrier became a standing issue for the group. Such a problem that conversations began slowing down. We weren’t moving as fast as we wanted as our lack of a common language filtered the flow of ideas. Realizing this, we stopped pausing to clarify our language and just asked each other during the breaks. We didn’t want to slow down the conversation. Continued curiosity and the phrase “help me understand” ruled the coffee and cocktail breakouts.
We each had our own language bubble, a vocabulary we use with ease and confidence to define common philosophies and concepts within our professional sphere.
Your language bubble is just that, a bubble. It’s perfect. You feel comfortable, you understand, you can move quickly and confidently through that bubble. But recognize that this bubble made for you.You’ve created a bespoke bubble.
In stepping out of your bubble into others, real learning and perspective happen.
This is the magic of diversity we all keep talking about. And yes, when you step out of your bespoke bubble you feel ignorant, you feel out of control, you sometimes feel unimportant. It’s almost like you don’t matter.
So here are my challenges for you, based on two of the many lessons I learned that long weekend:
Challenge No. 1: Take a risk on something ambiguous and unknown because it looks fascinating. Challenge No. 2: Find a way to step into someone else’s bespoke bubble and learn something different.
I know it’s hard, but I promise you won’t regret it. I know I didn’t.