All too often company events are filled with endless meetings, bad food and “death by PowerPoint.” So it was with great surprise that at my team’s recent offsite the meetings weren’t one long format but instead divided into multiple tracks, the food was outstanding and while there was some PowerPoint, it was far from the grim reaper’s reach. Moreover, one speaker hands down stood out and his name is Erik Wahl.
Truth be told, I’ve never heard of Erik before but after seeing him perform the “The Art of Vision” and hearing him speak, he definitely made an impression. He certainly has a different take on the old fashion “empower yourself” speech (think Tony Robbins) which to his credit is a good thing. Life coaching, motivational speaking or whatever you call it is a slippery slope, especially for me as I’m a very skeptical person. I say this since being involved in technology I’m forced to have empirical data (prove it!) and follow hard and fast rules. Erik’s take on this is to not discard those boundaries but rather break through them and over achieve on each individual line item you set forth for yourself. Concentrate on the positive rather than the negative. Common sense perhaps but reinforcing these concepts will not only help you achieve your commitments but also support the notation of “realizing excellence.”
One part of his presentation that struck a chord with me, which directly affects this theory of thinking is his idea of “getting uncomfortable.” Instead of being complacent and lethargic, one should set higher goals than others set for you and you should look at obtaining them in perhaps an unconventional way. Meaning, if everyone has gone down one path and it’s not working, then maybe, just maybe the other path is the right one to take?
Another part of his presentation that also rang true was his acronym for FEAR: False | Evidence | Appearing | Real. Fear paralyzes creative thinking and stops you dead in your tracks. If you’ve ever bungee-jumped, skydived or raced a car/motorcycle you know that the fear of the unknown was incredible but after pushing through that perception in your mind of what you think would happen, you come out the other side a much stronger person. Of course this is just an analogy but employing that type of thinking to your business or day-today activities will no doubt improve both.
Mixing in video, music and art, Erik creates a performancerather than just a presentation of facts and figures. To say that the audience (over 600 people) was fully engaged during his time on and off stage would clearly be an understatement. It was certainly one of the most engaging hour’s I’ve personally spent listening in quite some time. By the way, even though he encourages the use of cellphones, like me, most were listening as opposed to tweeting, posting on Facebook or checking email. When was the last time that happened?
Playing devil’s advocate for a minute (I’d be remised if I didn’t), one could say that all of this deep thinking is under the guise of broadening your ability to develop those skills which may or may not be present and you have to want to take the first step rather than be told. I will grant you that just because someone tells you what you should do or should be thinking (e.g. the glass is half full and not half empty) does not necessarily equate to you doing those things, acting in a certain way or changing your outlook on life. However, if you’ve never known any other way of acting or thinking, then possibly someone showing or telling you is reasonable?
That said, if you’ve never been to Erik’s program but have the chance, definitely attend it. While you might still be cynical even after he finishes speaking and the lights fade in the conference hall, if for nothing else it will give you a different perspective that may just put a crack in that pessimistic armor of yours.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge” – Albert Einstein