getting outside of my conference bubble

a few days ago, i wrote about wanting to integrate an idea my buddy, ross, had about taking a month each year to live and/or work in a different place. a few days before that i had my own idea about a practice i wanted to try and incorporate via my professional development workplan. i want to try to go to at least one conference each year (or maybe every other year) that’s outside of my subject matter or area(s) of expertise.

the idea has been inspired by a few different experiences this year. first, i’ve gotten the opportunity to attend several conferences/convenings that i wasn’t intending to go to (listening to the city, the community agency & health symposium, etc.). almost all of these have been outside of areas that i would consider my work to fall in. what’s been surprising about my attendance in this spaces is that it really helps me make cross-sector connections! people (myself included) always talk about wanting to break down silos and yet we decide to attend convenings of only people like us. it’s much easier to find different people to connect with in other sectors when you go to conferences other than the ones you usually do.

the other point of inspiration has been one of the participants at evolutionary leadership last week. one guy who hails quite clearly from the corporate world ended up joining the workshop. he said and it was quite evident that he had to stretch a lot just to keep up with the conversations and activities. learning can only happen when you’re little uncomfortable because that’s how you stretch in order to incorporate new information. you have to stretch and make new connections before something becomes a part of your thinking.

i can imagine attending a conference or gathering that’s outside of my fields of interest would really help me shake up my narrow/stale thinking. i like to think i’m not thinking narrowly, but i’m sure i am in many places. having to explain myself to people outside of my field and also having to learn new ways of thinking could be really awesome.

in hindsight, this is essentially a different way to get at the same point ross was making with his idea about taking time to live outside of your context each year.

and all of this has something to do with me trying to appease my natural human migration needs…


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