The Story of TEDxConcordiaUPortland’s Theme 2012: Becoming Extraordinary
Our story begins with ordinary, everyday people. They are seemingly no different from you or me, yet at a certain point something happens. An idea, an insight, or a flash of creativity bursts forth, breaking through the surface of thought to become tangible. Suddenly, everything changes. A problem is unexpectedly solved, a missing piece falls into place. They quickly come to realize that what they’ve stumbled upon can be applied; it can be used, harnessed, developed, grown, and spread. It isn’t just another idea, it’s an extraordinary one. And when they talk about it later, they mention how simple it was. The solution was always there, staring them right in the face, but for some reason they just needed an extra push, a fresh perspective. When you look into it a bit further, however, there’s one other element that they sometimes neglect to mention: courage.
The extraordinary people we all know, the innovators and pioneers, have gumption. When you strike upon a good idea, you need to take action, right? Waiting for the world to change on its own won’t get you very far, so you find that you need to become the agent for change. When fear inhibits most, you turn it on its head and use it to your advantage. You discover that it impels rather than paralyzes, motivates rather than discourages. In the face of ‘it can’t be done,’ you say that it can. When you meet resistance, you shake its hand and keep going. For what you’re holding onto is an idea worth spreading that will help make this world a better place.
It isn’t long until you realize, unfortunately, that extraordinariness doesn’t last. The next, best idea is always out there, and if you’re not thinking about it then someone else is. Yet there must be a reason why the extraordinary people we know seem to achieve extraordinariness again and again. Have they realized something that we haven’t? Are they truly different from us? What we come to find is that what seems like a secret to us is only something they’ve learned and practiced, something we all can learn—that becoming extraordinary is a continual process. The extraordinary folks out there are always in need of becoming extraordinary again. The process of becoming is about movement. We become extraordinary when we decide to run headlong towards our passions. The theme of becoming extraordinary is about unlimited potential. We are all, always, in the process of becoming extraordinary. All it takes is that extra step or leap to bring us to that inspirational “a-ha” moment. It also doesn’t hurt to hear from extraordinary people. To hear their stories, we find out how simple a process becoming extraordinary is. We all can do it.
So the story’s end is yet to be told. Right now we all surely have a running list of the many extraordinary people we’ve read about, met, or witnessed in action. This list, though seemingly comprehensive, will only grow. The speakers who share their stories of becoming extraordinary at TEDxConcordiaUPortland this year will be welcome additions, yet they will further demonstrate that our list won’t ever be quite complete. We’ll continue expanding our list, adding the names of those who are just now becoming extraordinary….
By Sean Wheaton
Sean Wheaton is a teacher, writer, and thinker who lives in Portland, OR. He’s a lover of ideas both big and small, and he is thrilled to be a part of this year’s TEDxConcordiaUPortland planning team. He’s one of several storytellers who will be sharing write-ups, interviews, and perspectives on the many extraordinary people from our surrounding community.