The Winner is…

Working in the field of personal growth does not excuse me from my own growing pains. I recently learned an ironic and somewhat costly personal growth lesson that reinforced this fact.

I attended a conference on collaboration and innovation with Sean Simons, my colleague at The Leaders Lyceum. One of my goals for the conference was to discover how this specific innovation process could be leveraged for personal growth for our clients. What I experienced instead, was gut wrenching personal growth lesson for myself.

The conference started off with us checking in, getting our materials, and then heading into a small theater where there was a pile of rubber bands waiting on each chair. The facilitator then asked, “Why do you think there are rubber bands on your chairs?” People began shouting out a variety of creative and symbolic answers: “Because we’re going to be stretched.” “Because we need to be flexible.” “So we can shoot them at you if we get bored!”

I immediately leaned over to Sean and said, matter-of-factly, “They’re to put around that deck of cards they gave us after we take the shrink-wrap off.” Sean encouraged me to share my answer, but my insecurities got the best of me. At a conference on innovation, I didn’t want to be the boring, realistic one who couldn’t think outside the box. I believed my concrete, rational way of thinking wasn’t valuable in this super-creative environment.

After a minute or two of people throwing out answers, the facilitator said we’d come back to this question later. He asked us to pull out the deck of cards and take the shrink-wrap off. He then asked again, “Now, why do you think we gave you rubber bands?” A lady in the front row immediately shouted, “To keep our cards together!”  “Correct!” he responded, and then proceeded to present her a prize for having the right answer…a new laptop! Seriously?!

Lesson learned! I’ll never think that my way of thinking isn’t as valuable as everyone else’s. We each bring a unique perspective to the world based on our personality. It is the diversity of our unique perspectives working together that makes the world complete. While I may not be the most creative person, I have the opportunity to add value in other ways. My attention to details, awareness of reality, and concern for how people will be affected are important and needed, even in the creative process.

I may have lost out on a laptop, but I gained a valuable life lesson that will last a lot longer than any computer. You never know what you or the world will miss out on if you don’t embrace the value of what you bring to the table.