What can one expect from a creativity conference in Sarasota, Florida? Like any creative endeavor, each individual will take away something a little different depending on where they are in life and where they are in their own head. For me, I put in effort to interact, I left the planet, and I took my own medicine.
This conference took place at the beautiful University of South Florida – Sarasota Manatee – campus. I love not only sharing my experiences of creativity conferences, but at them; mostly because I go to the events with high expectations and I always return with even more than I had hoped for.
Here’s how it works.
If you set the bar high for what you are going to experience at an event or conference and really believe that it will be worth your while, it will be. This is because your positive attitude contributes good energy to the physical environment that everyone can and will notice. You help create an over-all better experience for everyone. At the risk of sounding like I’m tooting my own horn, people have come up to me and said, “Your energy is fantastic”, and “Thank you for being here”. It is so satisfying to contribute to someone’s experience and we are all better equipped to do so than we think.
If you plan to be a spectator then you are depending on others to impress and entertain, but if you come with higher self-expectations and a willingness to be engaging and interactive, I can assure you will come home with much more than just another stack of losable business cards.
The opening ceremony of the “Florida Creativity Weekend X” was fun and interactive. The organizers had me delivering “brain appetizers” to mingling guests while juggling. The message that I shared at the tables was that it’s sometimes ok to drop the ball in life and in business. After all, if you can’t become comfortable with making mistakes, it can be difficult to really move forward.
In the process, I was blessed to reconnect with some of the most creative people in the world who I had met last year at different conferences, including Joe Miguez, Karen Rudolf and Anthony Hyatt to name a few. I also had the pleasure of several stimulating conversations with the creative genius Win Wenger, author of The Einstein Factor—a brilliant book with practical exercises about utilizing your unconscious mind. A quick internet excerpt:
“New research suggests that the superior achievements of famous thinkers may have been more the result of mental conditioning than genetic superiority. Now you can learn to condition your mind in the same way and improve your performance in virtually all aspects of mental ability, including memory, quickness, IQ, and learning capacity.” I’m so inspired by this material and hope to attend Win’s annual conference later this year.
During the opening ceremony, Rebekah Marler, the founder of Spirit Driven Leaders delivered a touching and powerful keynote and had us all dancing by the end of it! I have had the pleasure of further conversations with Rebekah since the conference and look forward to doing some collaborative work in the US with her this year. This in itself is a great opportunity for me, and the conference had just begun.
At these conferences you have a chance to choose from several concurrent sessions or 1/2 day sessions. On the Saturday morning I opted to attend Art Emrich’s session. The title of his workshop, “Ignite Your Imagination with Theta Brain Waves” was intriguing to me, and this experience was fantastic. I knew that it was a little risky to attend this session as I was scheduled to deliver my workshop immediately after, but I’m a bit of a risk-taker, and I never miss opportunities to get to know my brain better.
Art gave valuable information about how the mind works and then facilitated a guided hypnosis session. I felt that I was in a trance state even before we officially started the self-hypnosis portion. Believe it or not, this was not the first time that I’ve been hypnotized, but I must tell you it was POWERFUL! I felt that during the segment called the ‘visualization’, his voice became quieter and quieter, and then I mentally left the planet. In my mind’s eye I was actually somewhere way out in the cosmos. It was so peaceful and truly the most relaxed I had felt in weeks. I don’t remember the details of the entire journey but what was so powerful for me was the feeling of connectivity to the universe that I had never before experienced. I felt connected to other planets, outer space and concepts much greater than myself. What a trip! I will explore this further…
Once he talked us out of this process (which I believe took just 15 minutes), all 20 of us regained full consciousness. I felt a little dizzy but allowed myself to ‘awake’ more slowly than the other participants because I felt so incredible. The session ended after a discussion about the experience with the group, and everyone thanked him for such a unique facilitation.
Initially, as the room emptied, I could not get out of my seat. I felt comfortably heavy in my chair. But I had to get up because in just 15 minutes I was to deliver my focus workshop. How could I do that while in a semi-trance state??
I did manage to get up and to my room to deliver my session. I had a decent turn out and was initially worried that my audience members might notice that I was a little ‘spaced out’ (literally), but everyone was ready to learn and to play. To this date, I don’t know if I was still in a trance state or just highly relaxed, but it didn’t matter.
We did a 90 minute version of my “Juggle Your Focus” workshop and had conversations about embracing mistakes, focus, priorities and everyone made rapid progress in learning how to actually juggle.
And wouldn’t you know that it turned out to be one of the best sessions that I’ve ever delivered! By that I mean that I felt totally confident as a facilitator knowing that I was giving my participants some solid value and excellent take-aways from the workshop. Everybody received a juggling ball and wrote down what they planned to FOCUS on in the coming days as a result of the learning. For the first time, I did this for myself as well. I told the group that I would focus on slowing down once I got back to Canada. And now that juggling ball is a physical reminder of what I committed to during the session.
Since my return to Canada, my own workshop has helped me make decisions that have benefited me both professionally and personally. And while doing things a little more slowly, I’m finding that I’m cleaning the clutter in my life and getting more meaningful things accomplished. Sometimes we all just need a dose of our own medicine. Have you ever given someone fantastic advise that you couldn’t take yourself? What was that advice? Could you still benefit from it?
This reminds me of a fantastic activity that Mary Harvey took us through in her “Effective Icebreakers” workshop. She shared super-useful and meaningful activities that we as teachers / facilitators can use in our own organizations. Her energy was fantastic and I learned so much in a short time. The remainder of the conference was packed with other stimulating and practical sessions that I am grateful to have been a part of on this very special weekend.
I suggest that the next time you have an opportunity to attend a conference or event, that you step up your level of participation. Consider taking some of your own advice. If this takes you out of your comfort zone, that’s a good thing because it will mean that you are growing. If this takes you off the planet, even better! Explore that! You will be rewarded with meeting new people who might be able to help move your life or career forward.
Or at the very least, you’ll help improve a new friend’s experience.