#HRD18 – The Power of Onlyness – Unlocking Purpose and Wild Ideas – Nilofer Merchant – @nilofer

Nilofer Merchant opens her keynote with a very personal story of how her family demanded that she have an arranged marriage, and of rebelling against her family’s desire to put her in pre-defined boxes of ‘Islamic’ or ‘Indian’.

We tend to put people into boxes, defining them as the intersection of their vertical identity (what they’re born into) and their vocational identity (what they do) but this massively limits people by putting them into boxes. “If they see the silhouette, and not the soul, they aren’t actually seeing YOU.”. By putting people into boxes and judging them, we miss out on their real source of value. This costs us ideas at a point where we don’t have enough ideas to solve the challenges we face.

Putting people into boxes limits them when we should be liberating them. Nilofer talked about ‘onlyness’ where we stand in a spot that only we stand in. Instead of putting people into boxes, we should be liberating people, focusing on purpose, and rewarding people for ideas rather than productivity.

The power to change things is seen as simply individual. It is actually collective.

An inspiring talk by Nilofer about a space that I’m fortunate to spend time working in, helping people unleash their real potential. The talk clearly resonated with the audience, and here’s what people tweeted during the session:

This was live-blogged during a session at the HRD Summit 2018 – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in. I’ve also curated the story of the session as told through the tweets of the attendees (you might need to tap ‘load more tweets’ to see the full story):

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