Stone path in a field

Transforming: Story-by-Story

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I’m sitting here on a rainy, but warm, October morning in Chicago after 3 whirlwind days at the Training Learning and Development Conference (#TLDC16) in sunny San Diego.  Unlike any professional conference I’ve attended it centered around the conversations and stories of the participants.  The presentations and vendors were in service of those conversations not the focus of the event.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good.  But it must be passionate.” – Brian Fanzo

Even before the announcement in May that I was going to be laid off in June, a path has been appearing before me.  Stone by stone.  The end of the path is shrouded in mist and fog.  When I was afforded the chance to attend TLDC, I jumped at the opportunity, trusting that this new path stone was stable and the direction I was supposed to be going.

When I was afforded the chance to attend TLDC, I jumped at the opportunity, trusting that new path stone was stable and the direction I was supposed to be going.

This week I listened to stories and shared my own.  I came away with a better understand of not only who I am and who I will be, but of the harsh realities the business environment we all work in and the massive work to transform the workplace to meet those needs.

I had a bone chilling conversation with Trish Uhl about the realities of automation, big data, and the nature of work.  But she also showed us that it is not our brain that rules our heart, but rather our heart that rules our brain.

I marveled at Maureen Murphy’s story of being an oppressed ex-patriot in Fiji who literally was able to escape by sneaking onto a flight out while the nation was celebrating it’s  Rugby gold medal win in the Olympics.  Yet it was just another experience for her.

Malia Probst, spun story after story of how augmented reality and virtual reality are being used today – making it more approachable for all of us.  And then we got the chance to experience it ourselves.

I got to know Bolanle Bamgbopa and her story of working on a masters degree (online) while helping inner-city youth in Peoria, IL in the face of State funding cuts and indifferent supervisors.  The courage to pursue learning in both Bola and her students is inspiring.

Allison Rossett shared her story of being booted out of the Brownies twice and that retirement depressed her as she guided us to understand that happiness isn’t about being warm and fuzzy.  It’s about being authentic, clear, purposeful.  And it’s an imperative in work.

Nick Floro showed us how technology is just a tool, yet Julian Stodd showed us how technology has propelled us into the Social Age.  And those two things aren’t contradictory.

Time and again, we shared stories of intractable issues in our work only to have the room collectively help  us to recraft the story in a new, likely doable direction.  A dozen or so of us even had the privilege of participating in an “expert” putting forth a new idea and having it crumble before her eyes as we gave feedback.   She walked the walk of Brian Fanzo’s talk “Failure doesn’t scare me because I will never quit at failure.”  Thanks, Patti.  I couldn’t have learned a greater lesson than the one you didn’t intend but delivered so beautifully.

Fearlessness, accepting that failure is part of the process, courage, working out loud, learning with others, being authentic, knowing what you know and learning what you don’t.  As Brian Fanzo (the quote machine) put it, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. it doesn’t even have to be good. But it must be passionate.”

Thank you to Brent Schlenker, Luis Malbas, Lisa Goldstein and everyone else who brought TLDC16 together.  You stated your goal was to create a transformative experience.  I for one think  you blew that goal away.

My story was changed and amplified by listening and sharing stories at TLDC16.  The path forward is still shrouded in mist and fog, but my step is more certain and my faith in the way forward is affirmed.

(and yes, Trish.  My right hand is over my heart and I’m breathing in the gratitude.)



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