Getting Outside the Choir

What do you get when you bring together a starred general from the U.S. military, thought-leaders from Silicon Valley, social impact strategists from some of the most noteworthy progressive campaigns to date, a couple of magically creative muses, and some business leaders, to boot, to tackle the topic of “narrative in a post-truth age”?

Well, to put it succinctly, you get a lot more common ground than you might think! And that, my friends, is the huge value of conversations outside “the choir.”

Early this month I was honored and excited to be invited to join one of Ori Brafman’s inaugural Starfish Summits. The summits are designed to bring people together from varied arenas to strategize and discuss some our most compelling, complex and hairy issues. Ori is the author of a few best sellers, including the phenomenal The Starfish and The Spider–if you haven’t read it, please do–and the summit was an exemplar of the art of organic facilitation and group wisdom. Going into it, none of us were made privy to any information about the other attendees, which allowed for a “beginners mind” and open curiosity as the ground of our shared conversation.

In the progressive, social impact space one of our biggest enemies is our own self-righteousness and sanctimony — and with the world changing as quickly as it is, with as complex local and global challenges as we have to face, we need all the open and constructive conversation we can get. You never know where good ideas might come from — and you might find that someone you assumed had way more conservative values (or otherwise), might have a set of insights and skills to solve some of the same challenges you’re trying to solve — just from a different direction angle and vantage point. For one, I was completely inspired to hear ways that the U.S. Marines are talking about a socially responsible approach to resource management, and the fact that social impact and socially and environmentally responsible practices are being embedded as metrics of success in some extremely large scale endeavors. Had I not gotten out of my choir, I would never have heard those ideas in development.

So, in these crazy times, let’s be sure we’re stretching into the unknown, assume that others have some great ideas, wisdom and information that we don’t, and bring that “yes” energy. We have so much to learn — and do — together.