Wednesday, July 29, 2009

@DMAI: 'Believing Is Seeing'

And now for some self-promotion: Convene sponsored the opening keynote speaker at the DMAI 95th Annual Convention yesterday. The reason this isn't "shameless" self-promotion is because the speaker in question -- Erik Weihenmayer -- was tremendous.

Weihenmayer has been blind since he was 13, but that hasn't stopped him from climbing the Seven Summits (the highest mountains on each of the seven continents), including Mt. Everest -- which he's the only blind person to have scaled. During his talk yesterday, Weihenmayer was funny, thought-provoking, and -- yes, we have to say it -- inspirational. He admitted that "blind mountain climber" isn't a term that makes a whole lot of sense; related a climbing buddy's philosophy of "positive pessimism" (example: "Sure is cold out here. But at least it's windy."); and explained why you need to look beyond your individual goals: "A vision is like an internal compass. It guides us through good weather, but more importantly through bad weather; and tells us where we're going."

And Weihenmayer talked about how you can't have growth or innovation without adversity. Look no further than some of his climbing buddies, who include a paraplegic who invented a pull-up device that's allowed him to continue climbing, and a double-leg amputee who's developed prosthetic legs that have made him an even better climber. Weihenmayer calls these types of people "alchemists," because "they're able to take all the lead life piles onto them and turn it into gold."

Leaders in any field must do the same. "There will always be people who believe in your vision and people who don't," Weihenmayer said, but you can't worry about that. He said: "They say seeing is believing. I think they're dead wrong. Believing is seeing."

No comments: