A TEDx event in Cornwall? Not so long ago this would have seemed far fetched to say the least.
Thankfully, last week marked the fourth TEDx Truro we’ve attended and been proud to sponsor - and it’s now become one of the highlights in our calendars.
The theme this year was ‘uncharted waters’ and before I dive into them, it’s worth taking a moment to congratulate the team behind TEDx Truro who have successfully navigated their own uncharted waters to create an event that’s loved by all who attend it and watch the talks online. Launching something and doing something different is never easy and we should all applaud and be grateful to the TEDx Truro team for making this event such a success.
The power these events hold never ceases to amaze me. They challenge us, inspire us, resonate with us, and force us to take the time to look inwards, examine our own lives, the choices and decisions we make, and our own purpose. In the best possible way, they make us want to strive to be better in all aspects of our lives.
Whether it’s advances in technology, human endeavour, or stories that simply kindle a spark of joy in our (often far too cynical) hearts, TEDx Truro is an event that always hits the right buttons - whether that’s mental, emotional, or even spiritual.
This year was no different. The theme of uncharted waters is one I immediately felt an affinity with. I’ve spoken about this before, but running a business is a constant voyage into the unknown. You can map your route on the charts, be fully stocked up on provisions, and cast off the anchor but sometimes, before you know it, it’s all hands on deck as a storm hits out of nowhere and the only thing that matters is surviving. There are also times when it’s smooth sailing and you marvel at what’s happening around you. At its heart, it's an adventure and, like the very best adventures, you never quite know what’s going to happen next but you do your best to tackle it with the same spirit that saw you first voyage into those uncharted waters all those years ago.
I think this was summed up brilliantly by sea kayaker Jeff Allen in the first talk of the day “Karma Waters.” Jeff, who has circumnavigated Japan and South Georgia in a sea kayak, said:
“I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew I was going to get there.”
This belief, act of faith even, is something I strongly identified with. When life in business has been tough, it’s been my belief in what I’m doing - and why I’m doing it - that’s kept me going.
Jeff also spoke beautifully about the power of nature, of getting outdoors and enjoying being in the elements. Not only does it give you the opportunity to reflect but it helps you keep that sense of awe in the world - never losing the ‘wow factor’ as Jeff describes it. We can’t all sea kayak around Japan but (especially here in Cornwall) we can walk the coast, take dips in the sea, trek across the moors and much more besides. Celebrating and delighting in the natural world around us is something we should all do more often.
Another talk that particularly hit home with me was Julia le Gallo’s. She talked candidly about the quest for perfectionism and the impact it has on her life as well as the lives of those around her. For me, being perfect and not failing go hand in hand. Like Julia, there’s been times when I’ve let this get the better of me, to my own detriment. But, by being aware of it, and by actively taking steps to manage it, it helps me not only cope better with it, but be happier in myself and a better person to those around me, whether that’s friends, family, or colleagues.
Here’s some of the other snippets of notes I jotted down, thoughts and sentiments that ring true with me and I believe should be shared:
“You’ll hear no more times than you hear yes.”
“See the world differently and move from ‘seeing’ to ‘being.'”
“Make ideas happen - you don't know where they can take you.”
“Everybody is somebody.”
“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.”
We live in challenging times. The world is in constant change. From the rise of populism through to the disruptive power of the tech monoliths, we’re - all of us - firmly on a course that’s taking us deep into uncharted waters. At times it feels like these waters will rise up in the encroaching storm and swamp us, drown us in their rage and fury.
But even in the darkest of storms, light will always have the power to break through. Dr Lynne Jones OBE spoke at TEDx Truro about the ways she and others have helped give migrant children a voice through cameras and storytelling. Lynne’s work with these children, who in their young lives have already witnessed horrors we can only dream of, has helped them discover the good in humanity and find hope in the darkest of places.
And it’s here every journey should start; with hope. So let’s keep that hope with us as we sail into the future and keep trying to do all the things we can, whether they’re big or small, to not only better ourselves but to leave the world in a better place than we found it.