So there I was last Saturday at the TEDxCalgary event having just listened to many great speakers throughout the day and our last speaker Marcello Di Cintio takes to the stage. They clearly saved the best for last.
Marcello spoke about his walls project and his fantastic ability to connect the audience with his project was evident in the first few moments of his talk. He engaged us with how we all as humans have an instinctive drive to put up walls and another instinct to tear down or conquer the walls of others. He saw walls as a failure of people’s creativity and inspiration for those impacted by walls to reach into their creative reservoirs to tear them down. Some of ways that people had conquered the great physical walls built throughout our world included persistence, piling on the clothes to peel off as each one snagged the barbed wires, affixing a rope on one side, climbing up and then throwing the rope over to climb down the other, transforming the wall into something else, turning to wall into a revenue generating prospect, and bridging beyond the wall by creating music with it. The brave people Marcello spoke about were real leaders who reached into their creativity and achieved the unthinkable. They each robbed their wall of its emotional power over those it was designed to defeat.
The walls talk was full of rich metaphor and I’ve been thinking about it for an entire week. Beyond physical walls, I believe its human instinct to create social and emotional walls to keep safe inside what we want to protect from others and keep for our very own while keeping out whatever we perceive as harmful. The surprising truth is that by keeping one thing safe behind a wall, we rob ourselves and others from the great gifts we have to bring forward. What kinds of walls do you encounter interacting with others? What do they build walls around and how do they do it? And, how have you used your creativity and leadership to tear down those walls? What was the impact?
Now lets turn the tables and look back at yourself. Where are walls showing up in your life? How do you put up walls in your relationships? Are you one person at work and completely yourself at home? Do you guard your words and your emotions? Do you box up your passions and keep them to yourself? Ever find yourself saying “I’d love to, but I can’t”? Do you get stuck in either/or perspectives… (only this or that, no other choices)? How else do you build walls around yourself?
We all have social and emotional barriers and walls, some more than others and yet we all have them. How are they serving you? How are they not serving you? What can you learn from how you used your creativity to tear down the walls around others? I’m guessing that those walls, albeit well intentioned aren’t having the desired results. How would tearing down some of your own walls change your life and your leadership?
I look forward to reading In the Shadow of the Wall in 2012. Until then, you can learn more about Marcello Di Cintio’s walls project → here.