Through a series of Twitter connections, I was invited to speak and facilitate the Art Institute of Portland’s Leadership Academy this week. It was easily the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It has been a few years since I’ve had the opportunity to speak to and teach college students. But these opportunities are by far the best.
Several weeks ago I picked up @brampitoyo and @allisonm and gave them a ride to Ignite Portland 3. A few days later, I ran into Allison and she asked me if I’d be willing to speak at the Art Institute. She connected me and the coordinator of the Leadership Academy and the next thing I know, I’m on the docket.
While several student leaders originally signed up to attend, we ended up with a relatively small group. This is always fine, because it fits the interactive, dialogue format much better. Including me and the Dean of Student Affairs, there were eight of us total. Each brought a unique flavor to the group and by the end of the day, I was wishing I could keep this ad hoc group together so we could go and change the world!
Sometimes I find that what I talk about isn’t as important as the sharing of ideas, experiences, and knowledge. The ideation that takes place eclipses the syllabus I came prepared to teach. Of course, we defined leadership, shared some leadership failures and successes, and generally discussed the “so what” question of leadership.
Primarily I am a motivational speaker. It is my hope that I can inspire and lead others to take the necessary risks to enhance their life’s experience and to make a difference in the world around them. Though this is always improved by sharing my story and my experiences. Mostly however, I facilitate discussion that allows the group to be self-taught.
I’ve always thought that we learn more from what comes out of our own mouths, when a skilled facilitator is leading the discussion, rather than how much someone is trying to cram into our brains. The hands-on learning style, if you will, can be very powerful indeed.
Towards the end of the day, I asked them to answer this question:
If you could do anything, and you knew you would not fail, what would that be?”
Their answers surprised me in the sheer audacity. Here are their responses:
- Eliminate the price-point economic structure
- Facilitate world peace and eliminate hunger and poverty
- Start a successful business
- Provide clean drinking water for everyone in the world
- Reverse the formal and informal caste systems in the world
- Raise my kids to be successful in esteem and relationships
Obviously looking at these, at first blush, most seem impossible. However, I was quite impressed with the general lack of selfishness and self-centeredness. This seemed to me to show real maturity. It is obviously these students have been giving this much thought. I’ve never gotten answers this visionary in all the times I’ve led, facilitated, consulted, or spoken to groups.
I was impressed!
There is something about being with a group of really smart, creative people that fires my juices. These students are not content to leave the world as they found it. They are setting about to change their world. This is what excites me and gets my juices flowing.