“Muslims are not only victimized by ISIS, but at the same time blamed for ISIS.” Dalia Mogahed – TED. In SABF 2016 Dalia Mogahed gave the participants and all the listeners a reading of the political, economic, social and cultural reality that acted as a trigger to provoke an introspective in-depth analysis of each […]
100 participants, 10 teams. Each one of them was lead by a member of the organizing team, but only one was crowned winner. The SABF Games put to the test some of the ideas discussed on the previous days of the conference. Having fun and working together, we begun the last day of the SABF.
“What can we do so that people want to get behind our convictions?” From the get go, Sam Potolicchio’s seemingly casual choice of words has us reassessing why we seek to lead. He moves on; “so much of effective leadership is being able to see the world”, he says; a leader must not only look open to ideas coming “from outside one’s brain” but also try to incorporate different approaches and outlooks.
Trouble is we have a knack for trying to hold on to what we know best. We’ve got a “tiny kingdom in our heads” that says we know how, and it can be hard to “get outside of our own thought bubble”. To remedy this, we have to become aware of the “weaknesses of our cognitive structure”, and so Sam’s self-proclaimed purpose is to make us feel “cognitively silly”; an objective he meets more times than we’d like to admit.
Referring to our suspicion of the outside and our “lazy cognition” as essential features of our “tribal brain”, Sam judges them a “toxic combination” and exemplifies the Halo effect. What we see first influences our interpretation of what comes next, bringing confirmation bias to a cognitive level. So how conscious are we of what we do see first? How can we better understand the full extent of our prejudices and our “lazy” brain’s tendency to segregate and classify? How do each of our circles and affiliations limit our perception?
We have to get off autopilot, Sam advices us, and train ourselves to be outside of ourselves. How? The same way we train for anything: methodically. Try to spend time “feeling as if you’re completely out of balance”, Sam suggests; ask yourself, “where can I go to feel uncomfortable?” because “if you’re comfortable, you’re not growing […]”.
P.S. “Be lucky”.
“I’m back”, proclaims Rob Briton as he adjusts his coat, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. From the beginning, the contagious enthusiasm of his voice has been a fundamental component of the SABF experience; of “dancing around our idea”. It is an experience made possible by the year-long efforts of a team he is quick to thank; “there’s no such thing as too much gratitude, so thank you”, he says, and reminds us that in cases such as this, “[we] can’t pay it back, [we] can only pay it forward”.
Looking at some of this edition’s recurring themes, he recalls some of his fellow speakers’; key ideas. “We are at once extremely the same and extremely different”, he quotes, and “[must] stand up to false realities”. Prejudices, he adds, can only hold us back.
However, it’s not the formal sessions Rob wants to focus on.”Every session, every day, the number of hands raised exceeded the time”, and the ensuing 1 on 1 dialogues and small group discussions were especially valuable. They exemplify a seamless dialogue between people from all over the world, and paint a future where “poco a poco, we will work together”. On that note, Rob wants to hear from the participants. “What are your objectives in life? What will you do differently? How will you stay in touch?” Hand to his brow, he gazes over the crowd; “ok, who’s first?”.
Participants are happy to comply, also taking the opportunity to look back on the conference and share their feelings. With what voice they have left they thank the team and praise their fellow participants; they speak of a home many miles away from home and genuine acceptance. As emotions rise to the surface, Rob reminds us “never [to] apologize for tears”.
He closes the session with some”little piece[s] of advice”, delivered in his usual humble manner. He encourages us to read more, and fiction in particular. On choosing our path, he reassures us that “it’s ok not to know right away” and “to take a while”, advising us not to “stress over it”. As an “airline guy”, he urges us not to”take our wings for granted”.