Sometimes it takes a strong period of reflection to realize you’re learning something. That sounds obvious, but I (we, perhaps?) spend so much of my days in rapidfire communication, flitting between e-mail(s), Twitter, blog(s), from account to account, from work to personal, until it all blends together. When you’ve lived your life that way for a long time, reflection becomes something for which you have to carve out time, carefully, thoughtfully. It’s something I do in strange but solitary moments, often on airplanes and other dark places.
THNK (which I wrote a little bit about back in September), on the other hand, is days upon days of reflection. It’s starting your day, sometimes exhausted both mentally and physically, and trudging in from the snow, and immediately smiling because someone shouts an inside joke at you or gives you a hug. It’s talking with some of the world’s greatest young minds over vegetarian panda* soup and vegetarian tuna sandwiches. It’s getting to sit at a table with a Dutch princess or a former Costa Rican president or a preeminent sci-fi writer. It’s simultaneously loving and hating your project team member, then coming up a series of ridiculous ideas that, often suddenly, morph into something amazing. It’s genuinely feeling a sense of longing for that group of new friends after you’ve left THNK HQ and Amsterdam behind for “real life.”
For me, these moments of realization come as sudden insights, amidst momentary periods of reflection: a short walk to the Espressofabriek after an intense team session, a short five minute “journaling” (or for me, bullet-point-making) session. Sometimes, like me, they’re hyperverbal: I run through my thoughts aloud with someone, only to find, amidst them, what I didn’t know I was looking for.
And that’s the thing about reflection. It doesn’t quite matter how you do it, everyone has their own approach. It’s the outcome of looking inside yourself and realizing what it is you’ve been missing. And what THNK does, for me, is enable that: through the people we’re put together with, the tools we’re given, the coaching we’re offered.
There is so much more to say, certainly, but that will require a deeper period of reflection ;)
* i mean, if you’re going to make fake meat, why not go all out?