The Blank Slate

I remember a presentation I delivered by the same title. It was impromptu and since it was important that I get on the stage and speak, I did. The only challenge was my mind was totally blank. And all I could do at that time was think of the title of the book I was reading — The Blank Slate by Stephen Pinker. It’s a deep book (I may or may not have finished it and it may or may not have been in my “to read” list since) and I’m won’t go through the pain of explaining it’s concepts here.

If you’re a visual (read: lazy :-P) person, check out this talk by Pinker for insights:

Steven Pinker: Human nature and the blank slate

The context for this blog post? Like Pinker, I too believe our minds are blank slates. We simply fill it up with insights, perspectives, values, and beliefs over the course of our lives. And I’m not too sure if it’s as easy to wipe it all off. But I digress.

Going back to that day when I delivered that talk, I realized the importance of freeing oneself from external pressures to be able to go with the flow and actually enjoy the moment. I’m one of those who would simply refuse to live in the moment and regret about those precious moments a month later. And this is particularly true when I’m up on the stage speaking to an audience or writing a blog post for you to read.

I’m ruthless when it comes to criticizing myself. And when I do, there are times when I just go blank. Now, most people would simply freeze I don’t. In fact, I use the moment to acknowledge my state and admit to the audience. Definitely not for brownie points but to relate with them and let them know that I’m just as vulnerable as them. Just that I happen to be at the dais, which at that moment doesn’t even mean anything.

Going through the exercise centers me and helps me stay in the moment before I find my way back to the content I intend to share. But something changes. My voice and physiology changes (in a good way) and I find myself totally fearless because I’ve already experienced the worst. Over the years, embracing those moments have helped me become a better person and definitely a better communicator.

I can’t teach anyone how to be fearless but I definitely can encourage people to embrace their vulnerabilities. Because everyone’s got them and it takes strength and character for one to truly show their vulnerability.

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