Easing Back In…


“Life is Hard, Not Fair, and No One Is To Blame”

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The six months since the previous original post (noting the shared reprint in June, “Design Ethics Across Cultures…” ), have been a wealth of unique experience. The Muses are aching to reenter the fray and return from absorption to creation; freshly regenerated and revivified…

There have been some exceptional Moments through this period. One of the most impactful being my invitation by the Principal to speak to the Secaucus High School student body. My name had somehow come up in a conversation about speakers who would have a positive affect on the students; delivering a message of inspiration and encouragement from an experienced perspective. He found my “It Gets Better”  video on YouTube, then googled further and for some reason thought I’d have a positive message for his students.

Thus, I went to Secaucus as part of their annual “Respect, Responsibility and Remembrance” Day.

When I arrived, I learned that I was on an agenda with one of the First Responders who’d been buried in the rubble of 9/11, Jane Clemente – mother of Tyler Clemente, the young student who killed himself as a result of cyber-bullying and being outed online, and a small group of other amazingly accomplished people.

It was an honor to be a part of it.

My talk, “Life is Hard, Not Fair, and No One Is To Blame” was about embracing one’s aspirations and ideals and living with integrity, not taking personally the things that happen to us and striving simply to embrace What Is; knowing that there is so much of one another – of all whom we encounter in life – that we simply do not – cannot – know…and that these are the things that make each of us unique.

AND, about not fearing the making of mistakes, not being ashamed to learn from them, not pressuring oneself to have or know all the answers and just stepping up. Going out on that limb is pretty much the best way to learn.

Leadership is about knowing how and where to get the best answers, not knowing (or pretending to know) them.

The visual metaphor I used is the cypress tree. From tall, elegant, columnar and straight along the roadsides of Italy to whipped by the offshore gales into unique lacework, all genetically identical, each tree is a reflection of experience.

Just like us.

We spoke of life pathways, of our own aspirations and those of others, responsibility, integrity, our own personal darknesses and troubling experiences. And Regret.

In exploring Regret; I made the point that rather than “mistakes,” I look at many of the Life Decisions I’ve made that simply didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned; sometimes with disastrous effect, but giving me the benefit of learning from each of them…sometimes learning a LOT…but never regretting the act, move or choice.

While I see in retrospect that perhaps a different choice in a given circumstance might have been wiser, I would not give back that knowledge gained. Thus, here we are.

My only true Regrets are when I have hurt another person; done damage to a relationship that I cannot repair. So, we talked about that.

What blew me away is the quality of these High School kids. This is not my experience of High School. These kids are acute listeners, enlightened to so much more of the world than we were (due, obviously, to the internet, YouTube and social media for starters). They are, as a body, very clear on and embrace the difference between Tolerance and Acceptance…and are remarkably Accepting.

The respect I was given, the respect for one another that was evident simply passing through the corridors and in the cafeteria, remarkable.

This is a public school in a working class neighborhood. This country just may have a future, after all.

Talk about knowing our audience; this is the audience for whom we are now creating.

I have presented to colleagues and peers, taught Master Classes in inspiring and managing creativity to graduate students. I was a tad trepidatious at the prospect of this young audience, and I came away having had my own epiphany. The questions these kids asked, the things they said, individually, as they passed by me on the way out…powerful and beyond heartening.

So, I share the presentation with y’all in this Quicktime Movie  of the Keynote. In this 5 minutes, I believe the essence of the thing is communicated. What’s missing is, of course, my brilliant storytelling narrative (there is no sound on the video); the dark and sad interstitials that now inform my experience, fuel my creative work and remind me that I know less about more, every day.


I hope this has resonance.

“IMHO : Creating Compelling Experience” is still a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes. Free. Read it. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/imho/id555219645?mt=11 ]

7 thoughts on “Easing Back In…

  1. Wow, I loved seeing and reading this, Kile! I will share your “It gets better” YouTube with our high school GSA and print out your comments for us to read. Jill Preis

  2. Wow Kile, I really enjoyed reading this so well written paper, and watching the video and great presentation. I totally agree with your points and thoughts, and you know how much I can relate to it, especially in the last 12 months… Thank you for being such an inspirational and positive person.

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