full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Andrew Peek: How your personal narrative limits your future

Unscramble the Blue Letters

I mean we've all got a story we like to tell, myself included, so here goes. As a kid, I sang in a pretty decent choir. We'd go around the world performing for ppeos and presidents. But upon turinng teenager, I dceeidd I was going to tadre that in for a chance of being cool. So, for me, this manet certeagtis, sboadkrates, petty crime. I'm sure you can fill in the rest. I failed miserably at this particular brand of cool and then proceeded to become target 1A for bullies for quite some time. Until finally, I found a path to rlavecene by stumbling into a role with nearly universal high shocol importance: slnielg drugs. As I crossed into adulthood, that decision and those that came with it nearly cost me everything in my life, everything I'd worked for. But, as it happened, I was given a second ccnahe by a woman I haven't seen in 14 years but who is out there in the acdnuiee today - Justice Mavin Wong, thank you. This is where my story begins. I'm sure, no duobt, you tell yours just as well. We are unbelievably skilled at telling our own story - the progression, the adversity, always managing to convey this sense of tpmuirh in the present moment. And often, there's a hopefulness, sometimes even a confidence in what the fuutre has in store for us. We're like these master storytellers, and we... we're our favourite story. But our stories are going to kill us. Already, I can tell you they limit us, they hold us down and cstarnoin us. Sometimes they even suffocate us. To their ceridt, though, at least they're consistent. They all follow the same ntrviaare pattern, what we've come to call the hero's journey. It's just that the hero's journey we see played out on the big screen teaches us that change happens inside the hero, while the wrold around them stays constant. Everyone effectively waits for the hero to be reborn. And every time I see this, I can't help but think to myself, how beautiful would it be if the world worked that way, if it waited for us to come around on our own time to fully embrace our new selves, and then step back into the picture with both feet firmly planted on the gronud. Wouldn't that be nice? It's not at all how it happens. Instead, while we're out legalising same-sex mirraage in one moment, the very idea of a binary gender system or a two-spouse limit is being challenged in the next. I can asurse you, what we call gay marriage today is going to seem like a traditional idea to us a couple of yeras from now. That's the world we live in. We don't get to experience change as this beautiful arc that moves at a pace we're comfortable with. Change comes quickly and without pause. And yet, sdietus show that our willingness to change goes down as we age. It's built right into our expectations of people at different segtas of life. We expect our friends to understand concepts like white privilege but are satisfied if our panrets can simply avoid stereotypes. And our grandparents, I mean, we hope for the best. (Laughter) But sometimes we resign ourselves to the fact 'old dogs, new tricks'. It's just that that's a card we're not going to get to play for much longer. You see, unlike my dear grandmother, who's managed to get through life without ever pumping her own gas or using a cell pnohe, my soon-to-be 14-year-old goddaughter will grow up with an incredible amuont of technological cahnge happening everywhere around her. And unlike our wllinisgens to change, which decreases linearly, technology's rate of change is eeoapxnntil. In fact, The Law of Accelerating Returns, that which gneovrs technology's rate of change, is quick to point out that the amount of progress we saw in the whole of the 20th century was eclffeetviy reteaped during the first 14 years of Jessica's life. And what just took us 14 years will take us only seven more from toady. By 2040, when jiscesa is 38 years old and beginning to consider children of her own, a 20th century-worth of progress will be hiaenppng multiple teims a year. Think about that. What wisdom can we posibsly impart to a young person about living in a world we can't even fathom? That's the nature of an exponential curve - it takes a long time to reveal itself, but when it does, almost nothing stays the same. And though we prefer to talk about drones and self-driving cars, historians tell us that it's actually technology's ability to deliver us new ideas, which in turn change our behaviour, which we most often underestimate and fail to peidcrt. We're not only slow to predict them, we're slow to adapt because our stories weigh a ton. Let me give you an example. How many of us recall being nguedd towards a good career when we were young - safe bets, like law or medicine or accounting? These were the crreeas to apisre to, we were told. They're also amongst the top of the chpinpog block when it comes to aaoumitotn. Turns out minaehcs don't need eight years of school to memorise facts and patterns. But will we seriously start teaching today's middle schoolers that they may want to avoid these at-risk jobs? Or are we wrapped in the warmth of a story that we've been writing for decades - that degrees always mean better jobs? Better jobs lead to better pay, better pay to better possessions, and better possessions afford us gaeterr security. But how much security can there be if we're already spending two-thirds of our income on a single-family home because that's our version of a storybook ending? The truth is that the further we are into a story, the less likely we are to want to rewrite it. So we stick to the script. Now, at this point, I think I need to go on the record and tell you guys that I love stories. Really, I do. I've got a company in the business of telling stories even. But as we start to peer over the horizon, I think it's hard not to notice that what's needed here is something lighter, something easier to move, something malleable that can keep up with the pace. Like an idea. What would that look like, do you think? The 'idea of me'. Now granted, as far as psychological constructs go, at first, the two seem slitrgniky similar. The story of me, the idea of me. Almost like semantics even. I want to make sure you're with me here before I go any further down this rabbit hole. When I talk about a story, I'm talking about something we write once. But 'the idea of me' is something we rewrite every day. It's untying ourselves from these goals we have way out there that assume the world out there looks much the same as it does here today. So letting go of what should be for what is. So with that all squread away, I'd like to tell you the most recent time I had to rewrite my own story. It would have been just over two years ago now. After about a decade in the irtudsny, at least for me, my pranters and I achieved something most entrepreneurs consider to be a benchmark of success, especially in tech: we sold our company. We didn't just sell it to anyone, but to the next great chapter in Canadian technology history, a company whose IPO you might have followed this year. I got to tell you, it's a pretty great sotry. I don't think I could have written a better script. Sure enough, so the story goes, rhougly six mnoths later, I was let go. Who am I kidding? We're all friends here. Six months later, I was fired. (luetgahr) After a decade of writing my story as a tech entrepreneur, I was fired by the top act in town. It's a long fall. While it wasn't immediately obvious to me in the moment, there was something beautiful about having the rug pulled out from under me that day. Like a lhgnsteis that came from realising I didn't actually vanish by virtue of losing my story. That there, in the empty space, was an idea of who I might be next. At the same time, it was depley unesnlttig. I found the switch from story to idea really challenged my sovereignty. You see, my story had one aothur with veto power and final say on the interpretation of all the etvens in my life. When it's a story, that's kind of how it is. We get to choose how we perceive those events, and we do so in a way that best suits us, that leaves the story as much intact as possible. Got bullied as a kid? You pick the reason. Got let go? Ultimately, you're going to decide why that was. Stories force us into these either/or choices, where either it fits the script we have for ourselves or it doesn't. But 'the idea of me', I quickly rsieeald 'the idea of me' isn't built on an either/or at all. It's built on 'and'. Instead of getting caught up with whether we're a success or a failure, whether we're right or we're wonrg, 'and' reminds us that both are true. In fact, all things new are born this way by standing at the intersection and holding the tension between two choices that already exist so that a third can emerge. And it isn't just true for 'the idea of me', this is true for all ideas. When you start to tune into it, you can start to see ieads being added to everywhere. Gender, privacy, mental health, democracy: take any one of these as ideas for a moment and ask yourself whether you remember a time when they were simpler. I know I do. When I was gwrniog up, gedenr used to mean boy or girl. If you go back just a cuople of years, mental health used to only imply there was something wrong with you. But then these ideas got bigger. We kept adding to them. They expanded. Maybe the most prescient example from the past year is racism. This is an idea going through an expansion. You see, racism started out as a struggle for equal rights, but the achievement of equal rights didn't dispel the idea of racism, it just eaxpnedd the conversation to include all of racism's less obvious expressions. Today, when we talk about racism, we talk about an idea that's many layers deep. We talk about that which we can't always point to or that's not necessarily propagated by any one group or person. But it's there. It's there in pglieivre. It's there in access. It's there in protection. We talk about racism as being systemic, a system we're all a part of but only a fraction of us befinet from. This is how an idea gets begigr with time. And if, in turn, you choose to see yourself as an idea, then hreanig you might be the beneficiary of a still racist system is not a threat - it's a chance to enpaxd your own idea, to add in that new prveiecptse. But if we're a story, we're going to find ourselves at an either/or impasse, where either we protect the part of the script that says we're not racist or we'll have a lot of rewriting to do. Stories are how we've come to croctsnut our identity. And we're terrified to lose track of who we are. But I've got to tell you, I think this is where we're getting it terribly wrong. When you build your identity on a story, it becomes a once and for all discovery. We even talk about people before and after this elusive moment where they 'found themselves'. But if you believe yourself to be an idea, then identity becomes a moving target, a never-ending dsvrceoiy. Not just because the idea of you is always eidpannxg, but so too are the ideas all around you. Every moment becomes this wonderful chance to recalibrate, to revisit your rnaltseiohip to another idea. It's an acknowledgement that 'I'm not racist' is a temporary state, just like 'I'm a capitalist' or 'I'm a feminist', or fkrlnay, 'I'm straight.' This is the practice, this is growth, this is what growth is. And so rather than fearing the fast-paced future hiding in plain view, why not choose to see it as the fcroe bringing us into alignment with the rest of life? Everywhere we look, our systems are wired for gtwroh. From our words and ceptncos to the nralotieitspucy of our brain. From the evolution of our species to the universe at large. When it's change out there, we feel excitement, we feel a heoelfnspus about a torormow that is bigger and more full and more inclusive. We cashe after it with our art and our science and our debates. When it's out there, we demand change, we see the possibility for it everywhere - everywhere except in the way we talk about ourselves. Only there do we wtire the story once and expect the future to obey. The good news for us is that it never does. Whether an arrest or getting fired, divorce, disease, the death of a loved one, maybe a failure of some kind, we've all seen our stories interrupted. We don't write these tairgc bits into the original scirpt, they're whenrecs that are thrown our way that force us to rewrite again and again. And I think that's what 'the idea of me' needs to be - a commitment to that rewriting every day. Not because we have to, because we want to. Because we love to ctraee, and it is iiennltify easier to do so without a story dragging along behind. You know, Bob dalyn knew this when he famously said, tongue in ceehk, 'Do not create anything' because 'it will not change' - implying, of course, that the world might love what you make, but you'll be different by the time they do. As an artist, he refused to get married to his own mtlgoyhoy, the story of Dylan, the folk singer or the voice of protest. sevte Jobs knew this when he continuously cannibalised Apple's podcrut lines. He knew fanillg in love with the story that Apple was the best at computers, the best at phones, the best at tablets, was a death sentence, in that it meant the end was just around the corner. He knew creating was an act of letting go. And now, after quite a few rewrites, and though sometimes kikicng and screaming, I'm beingning to see this for myself. And I think it's something we should all embrace. Because creating isn't reserved for artists and entrepreneurs, it's the natural sttae in all of us. All technology ever does is put that poewr to create squarely in our hands because it knows something about us that we're still not quite ready to admit - that more than being our favourite story, we'd rather be our greatest creation, an idea wiinatg to happen. Thank you. (Applause)

Open Cloze

I mean we've all got a story we like to tell, myself included, so here goes. As a kid, I sang in a pretty decent choir. We'd go around the world performing for _____ and presidents. But upon _______ teenager, I _______ I was going to _____ that in for a chance of being cool. So, for me, this _____ __________, ___________, petty crime. I'm sure you can fill in the rest. I failed miserably at this particular brand of cool and then proceeded to become target 1A for bullies for quite some time. Until finally, I found a path to _________ by stumbling into a role with nearly universal high ______ importance: _______ drugs. As I crossed into adulthood, that decision and those that came with it nearly cost me everything in my life, everything I'd worked for. But, as it happened, I was given a second ______ by a woman I haven't seen in 14 years but who is out there in the ________ today - Justice Mavin Wong, thank you. This is where my story begins. I'm sure, no _____, you tell yours just as well. We are unbelievably skilled at telling our own story - the progression, the adversity, always managing to convey this sense of _______ in the present moment. And often, there's a hopefulness, sometimes even a confidence in what the ______ has in store for us. We're like these master storytellers, and we... we're our favourite story. But our stories are going to kill us. Already, I can tell you they limit us, they hold us down and _________ us. Sometimes they even suffocate us. To their ______, though, at least they're consistent. They all follow the same _________ pattern, what we've come to call the hero's journey. It's just that the hero's journey we see played out on the big screen teaches us that change happens inside the hero, while the _____ around them stays constant. Everyone effectively waits for the hero to be reborn. And every time I see this, I can't help but think to myself, how beautiful would it be if the world worked that way, if it waited for us to come around on our own time to fully embrace our new selves, and then step back into the picture with both feet firmly planted on the ______. Wouldn't that be nice? It's not at all how it happens. Instead, while we're out legalising same-sex ________ in one moment, the very idea of a binary gender system or a two-spouse limit is being challenged in the next. I can ______ you, what we call gay marriage today is going to seem like a traditional idea to us a couple of _____ from now. That's the world we live in. We don't get to experience change as this beautiful arc that moves at a pace we're comfortable with. Change comes quickly and without pause. And yet, _______ show that our willingness to change goes down as we age. It's built right into our expectations of people at different ______ of life. We expect our friends to understand concepts like white privilege but are satisfied if our _______ can simply avoid stereotypes. And our grandparents, I mean, we hope for the best. (Laughter) But sometimes we resign ourselves to the fact 'old dogs, new tricks'. It's just that that's a card we're not going to get to play for much longer. You see, unlike my dear grandmother, who's managed to get through life without ever pumping her own gas or using a cell _____, my soon-to-be 14-year-old goddaughter will grow up with an incredible ______ of technological ______ happening everywhere around her. And unlike our ___________ to change, which decreases linearly, technology's rate of change is ___________. In fact, The Law of Accelerating Returns, that which _______ technology's rate of change, is quick to point out that the amount of progress we saw in the whole of the 20th century was ___________ ________ during the first 14 years of Jessica's life. And what just took us 14 years will take us only seven more from _____. By 2040, when _______ is 38 years old and beginning to consider children of her own, a 20th century-worth of progress will be _________ multiple _____ a year. Think about that. What wisdom can we ________ impart to a young person about living in a world we can't even fathom? That's the nature of an exponential curve - it takes a long time to reveal itself, but when it does, almost nothing stays the same. And though we prefer to talk about drones and self-driving cars, historians tell us that it's actually technology's ability to deliver us new ideas, which in turn change our behaviour, which we most often underestimate and fail to _______. We're not only slow to predict them, we're slow to adapt because our stories weigh a ton. Let me give you an example. How many of us recall being ______ towards a good career when we were young - safe bets, like law or medicine or accounting? These were the _______ to ______ to, we were told. They're also amongst the top of the ________ block when it comes to __________. Turns out ________ don't need eight years of school to memorise facts and patterns. But will we seriously start teaching today's middle schoolers that they may want to avoid these at-risk jobs? Or are we wrapped in the warmth of a story that we've been writing for decades - that degrees always mean better jobs? Better jobs lead to better pay, better pay to better possessions, and better possessions afford us _______ security. But how much security can there be if we're already spending two-thirds of our income on a single-family home because that's our version of a storybook ending? The truth is that the further we are into a story, the less likely we are to want to rewrite it. So we stick to the script. Now, at this point, I think I need to go on the record and tell you guys that I love stories. Really, I do. I've got a company in the business of telling stories even. But as we start to peer over the horizon, I think it's hard not to notice that what's needed here is something lighter, something easier to move, something malleable that can keep up with the pace. Like an idea. What would that look like, do you think? The 'idea of me'. Now granted, as far as psychological constructs go, at first, the two seem __________ similar. The story of me, the idea of me. Almost like semantics even. I want to make sure you're with me here before I go any further down this rabbit hole. When I talk about a story, I'm talking about something we write once. But 'the idea of me' is something we rewrite every day. It's untying ourselves from these goals we have way out there that assume the world out there looks much the same as it does here today. So letting go of what should be for what is. So with that all _______ away, I'd like to tell you the most recent time I had to rewrite my own story. It would have been just over two years ago now. After about a decade in the ________, at least for me, my ________ and I achieved something most entrepreneurs consider to be a benchmark of success, especially in tech: we sold our company. We didn't just sell it to anyone, but to the next great chapter in Canadian technology history, a company whose IPO you might have followed this year. I got to tell you, it's a pretty great _____. I don't think I could have written a better script. Sure enough, so the story goes, _______ six ______ later, I was let go. Who am I kidding? We're all friends here. Six months later, I was fired. (________) After a decade of writing my story as a tech entrepreneur, I was fired by the top act in town. It's a long fall. While it wasn't immediately obvious to me in the moment, there was something beautiful about having the rug pulled out from under me that day. Like a _________ that came from realising I didn't actually vanish by virtue of losing my story. That there, in the empty space, was an idea of who I might be next. At the same time, it was ______ __________. I found the switch from story to idea really challenged my sovereignty. You see, my story had one ______ with veto power and final say on the interpretation of all the ______ in my life. When it's a story, that's kind of how it is. We get to choose how we perceive those events, and we do so in a way that best suits us, that leaves the story as much intact as possible. Got bullied as a kid? You pick the reason. Got let go? Ultimately, you're going to decide why that was. Stories force us into these either/or choices, where either it fits the script we have for ourselves or it doesn't. But 'the idea of me', I quickly ________ 'the idea of me' isn't built on an either/or at all. It's built on 'and'. Instead of getting caught up with whether we're a success or a failure, whether we're right or we're _____, 'and' reminds us that both are true. In fact, all things new are born this way by standing at the intersection and holding the tension between two choices that already exist so that a third can emerge. And it isn't just true for 'the idea of me', this is true for all ideas. When you start to tune into it, you can start to see _____ being added to everywhere. Gender, privacy, mental health, democracy: take any one of these as ideas for a moment and ask yourself whether you remember a time when they were simpler. I know I do. When I was _______ up, ______ used to mean boy or girl. If you go back just a ______ of years, mental health used to only imply there was something wrong with you. But then these ideas got bigger. We kept adding to them. They expanded. Maybe the most prescient example from the past year is racism. This is an idea going through an expansion. You see, racism started out as a struggle for equal rights, but the achievement of equal rights didn't dispel the idea of racism, it just ________ the conversation to include all of racism's less obvious expressions. Today, when we talk about racism, we talk about an idea that's many layers deep. We talk about that which we can't always point to or that's not necessarily propagated by any one group or person. But it's there. It's there in _________. It's there in access. It's there in protection. We talk about racism as being systemic, a system we're all a part of but only a fraction of us _______ from. This is how an idea gets ______ with time. And if, in turn, you choose to see yourself as an idea, then _______ you might be the beneficiary of a still racist system is not a threat - it's a chance to ______ your own idea, to add in that new ___________. But if we're a story, we're going to find ourselves at an either/or impasse, where either we protect the part of the script that says we're not racist or we'll have a lot of rewriting to do. Stories are how we've come to _________ our identity. And we're terrified to lose track of who we are. But I've got to tell you, I think this is where we're getting it terribly wrong. When you build your identity on a story, it becomes a once and for all discovery. We even talk about people before and after this elusive moment where they 'found themselves'. But if you believe yourself to be an idea, then identity becomes a moving target, a never-ending _________. Not just because the idea of you is always _________, but so too are the ideas all around you. Every moment becomes this wonderful chance to recalibrate, to revisit your ____________ to another idea. It's an acknowledgement that 'I'm not racist' is a temporary state, just like 'I'm a capitalist' or 'I'm a feminist', or _______, 'I'm straight.' This is the practice, this is growth, this is what growth is. And so rather than fearing the fast-paced future hiding in plain view, why not choose to see it as the _____ bringing us into alignment with the rest of life? Everywhere we look, our systems are wired for ______. From our words and ________ to the _______________ of our brain. From the evolution of our species to the universe at large. When it's change out there, we feel excitement, we feel a ___________ about a ________ that is bigger and more full and more inclusive. We _____ after it with our art and our science and our debates. When it's out there, we demand change, we see the possibility for it everywhere - everywhere except in the way we talk about ourselves. Only there do we _____ the story once and expect the future to obey. The good news for us is that it never does. Whether an arrest or getting fired, divorce, disease, the death of a loved one, maybe a failure of some kind, we've all seen our stories interrupted. We don't write these ______ bits into the original ______, they're ________ that are thrown our way that force us to rewrite again and again. And I think that's what 'the idea of me' needs to be - a commitment to that rewriting every day. Not because we have to, because we want to. Because we love to ______, and it is __________ easier to do so without a story dragging along behind. You know, Bob _____ knew this when he famously said, tongue in _____, 'Do not create anything' because 'it will not change' - implying, of course, that the world might love what you make, but you'll be different by the time they do. As an artist, he refused to get married to his own _________, the story of Dylan, the folk singer or the voice of protest. _____ Jobs knew this when he continuously cannibalised Apple's _______ lines. He knew _______ in love with the story that Apple was the best at computers, the best at phones, the best at tablets, was a death sentence, in that it meant the end was just around the corner. He knew creating was an act of letting go. And now, after quite a few rewrites, and though sometimes _______ and screaming, I'm _________ to see this for myself. And I think it's something we should all embrace. Because creating isn't reserved for artists and entrepreneurs, it's the natural _____ in all of us. All technology ever does is put that _____ to create squarely in our hands because it knows something about us that we're still not quite ready to admit - that more than being our favourite story, we'd rather be our greatest creation, an idea _______ to happen. Thank you. (Applause)

Solution

  1. tomorrow
  2. product
  3. change
  4. studies
  5. wrong
  6. assure
  7. growth
  8. beginning
  9. parents
  10. expand
  11. predict
  12. privilege
  13. waiting
  14. unsettling
  15. events
  16. cheek
  17. years
  18. growing
  19. marriage
  20. greater
  21. concepts
  22. trade
  23. willingness
  24. constrain
  25. partners
  26. exponential
  27. construct
  28. aspire
  29. chase
  30. nudged
  31. school
  32. ideas
  33. turning
  34. stages
  35. skateboards
  36. deeply
  37. couple
  38. phone
  39. possibly
  40. hopefulness
  41. months
  42. kicking
  43. popes
  44. effectively
  45. amount
  46. frankly
  47. tragic
  48. state
  49. relevance
  50. world
  51. today
  52. lightness
  53. narrative
  54. mythology
  55. doubt
  56. hearing
  57. future
  58. expanding
  59. triumph
  60. squared
  61. write
  62. power
  63. times
  64. cigarettes
  65. meant
  66. repeated
  67. wrenches
  68. happening
  69. audience
  70. script
  71. author
  72. decided
  73. discovery
  74. steve
  75. benefit
  76. jessica
  77. laughter
  78. chance
  79. infinitely
  80. force
  81. expanded
  82. strikingly
  83. credit
  84. automation
  85. create
  86. bigger
  87. falling
  88. careers
  89. realised
  90. industry
  91. neuroplasticity
  92. selling
  93. chopping
  94. ground
  95. gender
  96. perspective
  97. governs
  98. machines
  99. story
  100. relationship
  101. roughly
  102. dylan

Original Text

I mean we've all got a story we like to tell, myself included, so here goes. As a kid, I sang in a pretty decent choir. We'd go around the world performing for popes and presidents. But upon turning teenager, I decided I was going to trade that in for a chance of being cool. So, for me, this meant cigarettes, skateboards, petty crime. I'm sure you can fill in the rest. I failed miserably at this particular brand of cool and then proceeded to become target 1A for bullies for quite some time. Until finally, I found a path to relevance by stumbling into a role with nearly universal high school importance: selling drugs. As I crossed into adulthood, that decision and those that came with it nearly cost me everything in my life, everything I'd worked for. But, as it happened, I was given a second chance by a woman I haven't seen in 14 years but who is out there in the audience today - Justice Mavin Wong, thank you. This is where my story begins. I'm sure, no doubt, you tell yours just as well. We are unbelievably skilled at telling our own story - the progression, the adversity, always managing to convey this sense of triumph in the present moment. And often, there's a hopefulness, sometimes even a confidence in what the future has in store for us. We're like these master storytellers, and we... we're our favourite story. But our stories are going to kill us. Already, I can tell you they limit us, they hold us down and constrain us. Sometimes they even suffocate us. To their credit, though, at least they're consistent. They all follow the same narrative pattern, what we've come to call the hero's journey. It's just that the hero's journey we see played out on the big screen teaches us that change happens inside the hero, while the world around them stays constant. Everyone effectively waits for the hero to be reborn. And every time I see this, I can't help but think to myself, how beautiful would it be if the world worked that way, if it waited for us to come around on our own time to fully embrace our new selves, and then step back into the picture with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Wouldn't that be nice? It's not at all how it happens. Instead, while we're out legalising same-sex marriage in one moment, the very idea of a binary gender system or a two-spouse limit is being challenged in the next. I can assure you, what we call gay marriage today is going to seem like a traditional idea to us a couple of years from now. That's the world we live in. We don't get to experience change as this beautiful arc that moves at a pace we're comfortable with. Change comes quickly and without pause. And yet, studies show that our willingness to change goes down as we age. It's built right into our expectations of people at different stages of life. We expect our friends to understand concepts like white privilege but are satisfied if our parents can simply avoid stereotypes. And our grandparents, I mean, we hope for the best. (Laughter) But sometimes we resign ourselves to the fact 'old dogs, new tricks'. It's just that that's a card we're not going to get to play for much longer. You see, unlike my dear grandmother, who's managed to get through life without ever pumping her own gas or using a cell phone, my soon-to-be 14-year-old goddaughter will grow up with an incredible amount of technological change happening everywhere around her. And unlike our willingness to change, which decreases linearly, technology's rate of change is exponential. In fact, The Law of Accelerating Returns, that which governs technology's rate of change, is quick to point out that the amount of progress we saw in the whole of the 20th century was effectively repeated during the first 14 years of Jessica's life. And what just took us 14 years will take us only seven more from today. By 2040, when Jessica is 38 years old and beginning to consider children of her own, a 20th century-worth of progress will be happening multiple times a year. Think about that. What wisdom can we possibly impart to a young person about living in a world we can't even fathom? That's the nature of an exponential curve - it takes a long time to reveal itself, but when it does, almost nothing stays the same. And though we prefer to talk about drones and self-driving cars, historians tell us that it's actually technology's ability to deliver us new ideas, which in turn change our behaviour, which we most often underestimate and fail to predict. We're not only slow to predict them, we're slow to adapt because our stories weigh a ton. Let me give you an example. How many of us recall being nudged towards a good career when we were young - safe bets, like law or medicine or accounting? These were the careers to aspire to, we were told. They're also amongst the top of the chopping block when it comes to automation. Turns out machines don't need eight years of school to memorise facts and patterns. But will we seriously start teaching today's middle schoolers that they may want to avoid these at-risk jobs? Or are we wrapped in the warmth of a story that we've been writing for decades - that degrees always mean better jobs? Better jobs lead to better pay, better pay to better possessions, and better possessions afford us greater security. But how much security can there be if we're already spending two-thirds of our income on a single-family home because that's our version of a storybook ending? The truth is that the further we are into a story, the less likely we are to want to rewrite it. So we stick to the script. Now, at this point, I think I need to go on the record and tell you guys that I love stories. Really, I do. I've got a company in the business of telling stories even. But as we start to peer over the horizon, I think it's hard not to notice that what's needed here is something lighter, something easier to move, something malleable that can keep up with the pace. Like an idea. What would that look like, do you think? The 'idea of me'. Now granted, as far as psychological constructs go, at first, the two seem strikingly similar. The story of me, the idea of me. Almost like semantics even. I want to make sure you're with me here before I go any further down this rabbit hole. When I talk about a story, I'm talking about something we write once. But 'the idea of me' is something we rewrite every day. It's untying ourselves from these goals we have way out there that assume the world out there looks much the same as it does here today. So letting go of what should be for what is. So with that all squared away, I'd like to tell you the most recent time I had to rewrite my own story. It would have been just over two years ago now. After about a decade in the industry, at least for me, my partners and I achieved something most entrepreneurs consider to be a benchmark of success, especially in tech: we sold our company. We didn't just sell it to anyone, but to the next great chapter in Canadian technology history, a company whose IPO you might have followed this year. I got to tell you, it's a pretty great story. I don't think I could have written a better script. Sure enough, so the story goes, roughly six months later, I was let go. Who am I kidding? We're all friends here. Six months later, I was fired. (Laughter) After a decade of writing my story as a tech entrepreneur, I was fired by the top act in town. It's a long fall. While it wasn't immediately obvious to me in the moment, there was something beautiful about having the rug pulled out from under me that day. Like a lightness that came from realising I didn't actually vanish by virtue of losing my story. That there, in the empty space, was an idea of who I might be next. At the same time, it was deeply unsettling. I found the switch from story to idea really challenged my sovereignty. You see, my story had one author with veto power and final say on the interpretation of all the events in my life. When it's a story, that's kind of how it is. We get to choose how we perceive those events, and we do so in a way that best suits us, that leaves the story as much intact as possible. Got bullied as a kid? You pick the reason. Got let go? Ultimately, you're going to decide why that was. Stories force us into these either/or choices, where either it fits the script we have for ourselves or it doesn't. But 'the idea of me', I quickly realised 'the idea of me' isn't built on an either/or at all. It's built on 'and'. Instead of getting caught up with whether we're a success or a failure, whether we're right or we're wrong, 'and' reminds us that both are true. In fact, all things new are born this way by standing at the intersection and holding the tension between two choices that already exist so that a third can emerge. And it isn't just true for 'the idea of me', this is true for all ideas. When you start to tune into it, you can start to see ideas being added to everywhere. Gender, privacy, mental health, democracy: take any one of these as ideas for a moment and ask yourself whether you remember a time when they were simpler. I know I do. When I was growing up, gender used to mean boy or girl. If you go back just a couple of years, mental health used to only imply there was something wrong with you. But then these ideas got bigger. We kept adding to them. They expanded. Maybe the most prescient example from the past year is racism. This is an idea going through an expansion. You see, racism started out as a struggle for equal rights, but the achievement of equal rights didn't dispel the idea of racism, it just expanded the conversation to include all of racism's less obvious expressions. Today, when we talk about racism, we talk about an idea that's many layers deep. We talk about that which we can't always point to or that's not necessarily propagated by any one group or person. But it's there. It's there in privilege. It's there in access. It's there in protection. We talk about racism as being systemic, a system we're all a part of but only a fraction of us benefit from. This is how an idea gets bigger with time. And if, in turn, you choose to see yourself as an idea, then hearing you might be the beneficiary of a still racist system is not a threat - it's a chance to expand your own idea, to add in that new perspective. But if we're a story, we're going to find ourselves at an either/or impasse, where either we protect the part of the script that says we're not racist or we'll have a lot of rewriting to do. Stories are how we've come to construct our identity. And we're terrified to lose track of who we are. But I've got to tell you, I think this is where we're getting it terribly wrong. When you build your identity on a story, it becomes a once and for all discovery. We even talk about people before and after this elusive moment where they 'found themselves'. But if you believe yourself to be an idea, then identity becomes a moving target, a never-ending discovery. Not just because the idea of you is always expanding, but so too are the ideas all around you. Every moment becomes this wonderful chance to recalibrate, to revisit your relationship to another idea. It's an acknowledgement that 'I'm not racist' is a temporary state, just like 'I'm a capitalist' or 'I'm a feminist', or frankly, 'I'm straight.' This is the practice, this is growth, this is what growth is. And so rather than fearing the fast-paced future hiding in plain view, why not choose to see it as the force bringing us into alignment with the rest of life? Everywhere we look, our systems are wired for growth. From our words and concepts to the neuroplasticity of our brain. From the evolution of our species to the universe at large. When it's change out there, we feel excitement, we feel a hopefulness about a tomorrow that is bigger and more full and more inclusive. We chase after it with our art and our science and our debates. When it's out there, we demand change, we see the possibility for it everywhere - everywhere except in the way we talk about ourselves. Only there do we write the story once and expect the future to obey. The good news for us is that it never does. Whether an arrest or getting fired, divorce, disease, the death of a loved one, maybe a failure of some kind, we've all seen our stories interrupted. We don't write these tragic bits into the original script, they're wrenches that are thrown our way that force us to rewrite again and again. And I think that's what 'the idea of me' needs to be - a commitment to that rewriting every day. Not because we have to, because we want to. Because we love to create, and it is infinitely easier to do so without a story dragging along behind. You know, Bob Dylan knew this when he famously said, tongue in cheek, 'Do not create anything' because 'it will not change' - implying, of course, that the world might love what you make, but you'll be different by the time they do. As an artist, he refused to get married to his own mythology, the story of Dylan, the folk singer or the voice of protest. Steve Jobs knew this when he continuously cannibalised Apple's product lines. He knew falling in love with the story that Apple was the best at computers, the best at phones, the best at tablets, was a death sentence, in that it meant the end was just around the corner. He knew creating was an act of letting go. And now, after quite a few rewrites, and though sometimes kicking and screaming, I'm beginning to see this for myself. And I think it's something we should all embrace. Because creating isn't reserved for artists and entrepreneurs, it's the natural state in all of us. All technology ever does is put that power to create squarely in our hands because it knows something about us that we're still not quite ready to admit - that more than being our favourite story, we'd rather be our greatest creation, an idea waiting to happen. Thank you. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

Important Words

  1. ability
  2. accelerating
  3. access
  4. accounting
  5. achieved
  6. achievement
  7. acknowledgement
  8. act
  9. adapt
  10. add
  11. added
  12. adding
  13. admit
  14. adulthood
  15. adversity
  16. afford
  17. age
  18. alignment
  19. amount
  20. applause
  21. apple
  22. arc
  23. arrest
  24. art
  25. artist
  26. artists
  27. aspire
  28. assume
  29. assure
  30. audience
  31. author
  32. automation
  33. avoid
  34. beautiful
  35. beginning
  36. begins
  37. behaviour
  38. benchmark
  39. beneficiary
  40. benefit
  41. bets
  42. big
  43. bigger
  44. binary
  45. bits
  46. block
  47. bob
  48. born
  49. boy
  50. brain
  51. brand
  52. bringing
  53. build
  54. built
  55. bullied
  56. bullies
  57. business
  58. call
  59. canadian
  60. cannibalised
  61. card
  62. career
  63. careers
  64. cars
  65. caught
  66. cell
  67. century
  68. challenged
  69. chance
  70. change
  71. chapter
  72. chase
  73. cheek
  74. children
  75. choices
  76. choir
  77. choose
  78. chopping
  79. cigarettes
  80. comfortable
  81. commitment
  82. company
  83. computers
  84. concepts
  85. confidence
  86. consistent
  87. constant
  88. constrain
  89. construct
  90. constructs
  91. continuously
  92. conversation
  93. convey
  94. cool
  95. corner
  96. cost
  97. couple
  98. create
  99. creating
  100. creation
  101. credit
  102. crime
  103. crossed
  104. curve
  105. day
  106. dear
  107. death
  108. debates
  109. decade
  110. decades
  111. decent
  112. decide
  113. decided
  114. decision
  115. decreases
  116. deep
  117. deeply
  118. degrees
  119. deliver
  120. demand
  121. discovery
  122. disease
  123. dispel
  124. divorce
  125. dogs
  126. doubt
  127. dragging
  128. drones
  129. drugs
  130. dylan
  131. easier
  132. effectively
  133. elusive
  134. embrace
  135. emerge
  136. empty
  137. entrepreneur
  138. entrepreneurs
  139. equal
  140. events
  141. evolution
  142. excitement
  143. exist
  144. expand
  145. expanded
  146. expanding
  147. expansion
  148. expect
  149. expectations
  150. experience
  151. exponential
  152. expressions
  153. fact
  154. facts
  155. fail
  156. failed
  157. failure
  158. fall
  159. falling
  160. famously
  161. fathom
  162. favourite
  163. fearing
  164. feel
  165. feet
  166. fill
  167. final
  168. finally
  169. find
  170. fired
  171. firmly
  172. fits
  173. folk
  174. follow
  175. force
  176. fraction
  177. frankly
  178. friends
  179. full
  180. fully
  181. future
  182. gas
  183. gay
  184. gender
  185. girl
  186. give
  187. goals
  188. goddaughter
  189. good
  190. governs
  191. grandmother
  192. grandparents
  193. granted
  194. great
  195. greater
  196. greatest
  197. ground
  198. group
  199. grow
  200. growing
  201. growth
  202. guys
  203. hands
  204. happen
  205. happened
  206. happening
  207. hard
  208. health
  209. hearing
  210. hero
  211. hiding
  212. high
  213. historians
  214. history
  215. hold
  216. holding
  217. hole
  218. home
  219. hope
  220. hopefulness
  221. horizon
  222. idea
  223. ideas
  224. identity
  225. immediately
  226. impart
  227. impasse
  228. imply
  229. implying
  230. include
  231. included
  232. inclusive
  233. income
  234. incredible
  235. industry
  236. infinitely
  237. intact
  238. interpretation
  239. interrupted
  240. intersection
  241. ipo
  242. jessica
  243. jobs
  244. journey
  245. justice
  246. kicking
  247. kid
  248. kidding
  249. kill
  250. kind
  251. knew
  252. large
  253. laughter
  254. law
  255. layers
  256. lead
  257. leaves
  258. legalising
  259. letting
  260. life
  261. lighter
  262. lightness
  263. limit
  264. linearly
  265. lines
  266. live
  267. living
  268. long
  269. longer
  270. lose
  271. losing
  272. lot
  273. love
  274. loved
  275. machines
  276. malleable
  277. managed
  278. managing
  279. marriage
  280. married
  281. master
  282. mavin
  283. meant
  284. medicine
  285. memorise
  286. mental
  287. middle
  288. miserably
  289. moment
  290. months
  291. move
  292. moves
  293. moving
  294. multiple
  295. mythology
  296. narrative
  297. natural
  298. nature
  299. necessarily
  300. needed
  301. neuroplasticity
  302. news
  303. nice
  304. notice
  305. nudged
  306. obey
  307. obvious
  308. original
  309. pace
  310. parents
  311. part
  312. partners
  313. path
  314. pattern
  315. patterns
  316. pause
  317. pay
  318. peer
  319. people
  320. perceive
  321. performing
  322. person
  323. perspective
  324. petty
  325. phone
  326. phones
  327. pick
  328. picture
  329. plain
  330. planted
  331. play
  332. played
  333. point
  334. popes
  335. possessions
  336. possibility
  337. possibly
  338. power
  339. practice
  340. predict
  341. prefer
  342. prescient
  343. present
  344. presidents
  345. pretty
  346. privacy
  347. privilege
  348. proceeded
  349. product
  350. progress
  351. progression
  352. propagated
  353. protect
  354. protection
  355. protest
  356. psychological
  357. pulled
  358. pumping
  359. put
  360. quick
  361. quickly
  362. rabbit
  363. racism
  364. racist
  365. rate
  366. ready
  367. realised
  368. realising
  369. reason
  370. reborn
  371. recalibrate
  372. recall
  373. record
  374. refused
  375. relationship
  376. relevance
  377. remember
  378. reminds
  379. repeated
  380. reserved
  381. resign
  382. rest
  383. returns
  384. reveal
  385. revisit
  386. rewrite
  387. rewrites
  388. rewriting
  389. rights
  390. role
  391. roughly
  392. rug
  393. safe
  394. sang
  395. satisfied
  396. school
  397. schoolers
  398. science
  399. screaming
  400. screen
  401. script
  402. security
  403. sell
  404. selling
  405. semantics
  406. sense
  407. sentence
  408. show
  409. similar
  410. simpler
  411. simply
  412. singer
  413. skateboards
  414. skilled
  415. slow
  416. sold
  417. sovereignty
  418. space
  419. species
  420. spending
  421. squared
  422. squarely
  423. stages
  424. standing
  425. start
  426. started
  427. state
  428. stays
  429. step
  430. stereotypes
  431. steve
  432. stick
  433. store
  434. stories
  435. story
  436. storybook
  437. storytellers
  438. straight
  439. strikingly
  440. struggle
  441. studies
  442. stumbling
  443. success
  444. suffocate
  445. suits
  446. switch
  447. system
  448. systemic
  449. systems
  450. tablets
  451. takes
  452. talk
  453. talking
  454. target
  455. teaches
  456. teaching
  457. tech
  458. technological
  459. technology
  460. teenager
  461. telling
  462. temporary
  463. tension
  464. terribly
  465. terrified
  466. threat
  467. thrown
  468. time
  469. times
  470. today
  471. told
  472. tomorrow
  473. ton
  474. tongue
  475. top
  476. town
  477. track
  478. trade
  479. traditional
  480. tragic
  481. triumph
  482. true
  483. truth
  484. tune
  485. turn
  486. turning
  487. turns
  488. ultimately
  489. unbelievably
  490. underestimate
  491. understand
  492. universal
  493. universe
  494. unsettling
  495. untying
  496. vanish
  497. version
  498. veto
  499. view
  500. virtue
  501. voice
  502. waited
  503. waiting
  504. waits
  505. warmth
  506. weigh
  507. white
  508. willingness
  509. wired
  510. wisdom
  511. woman
  512. wonderful
  513. wong
  514. words
  515. worked
  516. world
  517. wrapped
  518. wrenches
  519. write
  520. writing
  521. written
  522. wrong
  523. year
  524. years
  525. young