11 things I learned at The Do Lectures

1.  Fear is powerful – emotion is powerful
I learned that many, many people are scared to camp in the rain and that even more don’t want to be cold. But I also learned that fear can drive you on and once you push on through, the feeling joy and success on the other side is immense.

2.  Thinking differently is essential
People become jaded. We need to think about new ways of thinking. I learned that very few people like to peer outside of their comfort zone. Staying within your comfort zone won’t help you think differently. Meet new people in new places. Think differently. Think that every action has balance, a consequence; in sustainability, in the world and in the way we live in it.

3.  Sean Carasso
If you went to Do 2012 you already know him. But if you didn’t, please, I urge you: find his story and listen to it. His story is amazing, his achievements humbling. There are very few people in the world who can tell stories of such darkness with energy and positive light.

4.  Humans need the outdoors
Walking on grass is fun. Constant rain is OK. Outdoor showers are invigorating. I learned that brushing your teeth, outside, every day, looking at rolling hills is soul restoring. I also realised that the frosted glass in my bathroom window blocks our fabulous view over the English countryside. Little things.

5.  People are amazing
People want to make a difference. They just need to be shown a way, a direction, a thought and given permission to stop and think about it. And about how they can help. You can start by giving people an opportunity to talk and by showing them how you want to make a difference. As the saying goes: be the change you want to see in the world.

6.  Tim Smit for Prime Minister
If creative thinking will enable effective change, then Tim Smit should be Prime Minister. Simple.

7.  Do speakers
An inspiring, world-leading, game-changing, future-designing, life-saving, creative, powerful, passionate and exciting collective. Every one had a different story, each one inspiring and in its own way, moving. All very different, but each left me with a new thought, idea, or skill. I learned to listen to everyone with an open mind.

8.  You can never have too much Welsh food
I learned you cannot have too much homemade Welsh bread: fact. Don’t argue with me, dieticians… Welsh cheeses: I learned that they – and their Welsh chutney friends – taste divine. Welsh beer: OK you can have too much. And your head will hurt. But you’ll be glad you did.

9.  Banish negativity
Young brains are more effective, more open to change and more alive. By banishing negativity and opening your mind to possibility and opportunity, you’ll reap the benefits. Remind yourself every day and do a 24 hour positivity-only challenge. If you fail, start over again.

10.  Stop
Take time out to do nothing. Take time to be still. Christians would say: Be still and know that I am God. Meditationalists (just invented it): Be still and find your inner zen. Parents: Be still and find you have yoghurt in your hair. I’ve learned that whatever approach you take, it all works. Be still.

11.  Ideas change things
The Do mantra. Live it.


Find about more about The Do Lectures

Fear of failure

I read an interesting post by Julian Thompson this week on the RSA blog: ‘Do grand challenges need fear of failure?’ I pondered this for a while, as fear of failure has been a thorn in my side for years. Although I prefer to use the term loss aversion, it sounds far more reasonable and productive.

I’m heading off tomorrow to The Do Lectures – an event held in Wales by people with no fear, who boldly want to change the world, for people who want to change the world. I signed up because increasingly I’ve been feeling that I do want to change the world. (It’s creeping age and having children that does that to you). So, Do approaches. And so does The Fear.

Now seems an opportune time to think about fear. And wanting to change the world. I really thought I wanted to. But now I’m not so sure. The fear has gripped me so firmly, it has consumed my energy for days. It has me pinned to my chair, unable to pack and unable to concentrate.

The promise of Do is so great, the potential truly is infinite. (They even have amazing designers creating fabulous posters to inspire you!). They have 80 visitors and 30 speakers, over 5 days in beautiful Wales! They have Scritti Politti playing live for goodness sake. I defy anyone not to be excited!

I know I am. Well, to confess, I was. I’m now scared. This, however, is a good thing, because yesterday was worse; I was completely numb with fear. And a couple of days ago, well, you see where I’m going. Thomson wonders if the fear of failure spurs us on to achieve great things – and muses that perhaps this is what motivates athletes? I don’t think so. I think being massively competitive spurs them on. Fear of losing is a by-product. Like medals, but less shiny.

So, do grand challenges need fear of failure? I’m going to have to say no. My grand challenge would perhaps benefit from a light sprinkling of nerves, or a tiny hint of excited anticipation. Fear of failure – which is what I am suffering from – really is of no use at all.

Fear of failure is paralysing in it’s most powerful form. I’m not even marginally spurred on. Examples litter our memories and crush our confidence over the years. How many people, for example, scared out of their wits, failed their driving test first time – only to pass it a week later with flying colours? And who repeated that exact pattern a year later with their motorbike test? (Oh, just me?!).

I’m scared of what I’ll find at Do. I’m worried about camping. I’m terrified of being cold. I’m worried I won’t sleep, that I’ll snore, that I’ll stop worrying?! And I’m also petrified that I’ll have the time of my life and not want to return to the real world. I do not need this fear anymore.

And then I realise it is true: I do not need this fear anymore. I won’t fail. I don’t need to fail. If it was comfortable there would be no point. If it was a day like any other we’d be less inspired, less excited and less likely to be innovative. Without a comfort zone to step out of, we’d just merrily carry along, happy and content, mingling in our own social circles and reading the Independent online. Finally, I realise that fear of failure can be a force for change. I also realise that I’m going to have to get packing: literally and metaphorically.