Live blog, TEDxColumbus

Susan Willeke – Live Blog

2011 TEDxColumbus
I’m pretty happy with the fact that my natural tendencies are to eat fruits and vegetables as opposed to tree bark and road kill.

Boy did I love that sentence. Susan Willeke said it to illustrate the following point: we need bias. If I didn’t have a bias that trumped eating road kill, things probably wouldn’t be going so well for me. Bias is necessary for species survival (whether or not the carrot, say, feels biased toward me as its uprooted is for another TED talk). But of course that’s not the end of the story.

Natural tendencies inhibit our ability to be as objective as we think we can be. Susan shared the moment in time where she realized her wholehearted feelings of unjustness in response to football officiating at a high school game were felt with precisely the same degree of wholeheartedness by spectators cheering for the other side. A football analogy works quite well for Susan’s stories and moral: don’t give up on your biases–be mindful, identify it, and choose how it plays out in your life. Know where it hides, how it can hurt, and how it can help. You’ve got it and you can run in the right direction with it.

Running? That’s actually a thing Susan once felt zero tendency toward. Oh no, she was not an athlete. For years, that’s just how she identified: non-athlete. Then, things changed. She realized that wasn’t immutable, it was bias, and it could change: she started slow, worked through it, and next thing you know, she ran the Columbus marathon (and finished!) — “I realized the possibility of who I might be and what I’m capable of, despite that voice that had been telling me I wasn’t capable of it.” Again, acknowledging the bias paves the way to move past them.

Sure, not everybody will become marathon runners (um, me), but Susan does offer the equipment to apply her experiences and knowledge to our real worlds. Identify objectives that speak to your values, and then, most importantly, ask yourself is what I’m about to say true, kind, and necessary?

And don’t forget to nurture that bias against road kill for dinner.