At TED, I’ve found there are overall themes of each conference that speakers keep coming to again & again — often not the official theme, but a reflection of where the mood of the community is. And then I’ve found that wherever I am personally, I get coherence in different ways. For me this year, and for many of the folks I’ve talked with, the theme is intentionality: how to figure out and live a life that you want to live, instead of taking the one that comes to you.
As a friend said last night, it feels like there were maybe a half dozen talks about just this thing. From Sherry Turkle’s worry about how devices are making us alone, together; to Jen Pahlka’s excellent thoughts on becoming better and more involved citizens; to David Kelly’s thoughts on creative confidence and how to nurture it; and to Bryan Stevenson’s unbelievable talk about how he’s made a difference, and the people in his life who have helped him “keep his eyes on the prize.”
I’m coming to view intentionality, depth of thought and connection, and the power to focus as the central developmental challenges of our society today. We’re going through an incredibly rapid transformation into an always connected, real-time, perma-entertained, ever stimulated world — and it’s becoming clear to me that, somewhat ironically, it’s the people who can take advantage of all of that, while also ultimately staying within themselves, will be the ones who make the most profound and positive changes in our world.
So that applies to all of us, and implies much about how to think about living our lives, interacting with each other, and teaching our children.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few months — or really probably the last year or so — about how to be more intentional in my life — i think this week has catalyzed some of my thinking, so I’ll plan to write about a bunch of different aspects of it as I work through my own re-intentioning of my life.
Photo by Rob Mulally