After a long day of travelling, i’m home from Singapore, sat back in my local coffee shop, starting that sense making process that always follows a period of travelling: part reflection, part narrative.
Travel broadens our horizons: it brings us face to face with new people, unfamiliar environments, different street signs, varied cultural norms, new knowledge, new friends, different contexts and wider communities. It changes our perspective so that, when we return, we are never the same.
To learn is to change: be it through reading a book or spending a year in India, as what we know develops, so how we apply it changes and, in Social Age terms, our ability to create meaning changes.
It is a self perpetuating process: the more we learn, often the greater our hunger for more. Barely thirty six hours ago i was sat high in a bar in Singapore, watching the city scurrying about below me, smelling the hot, humid air, hearing the sounds of different languages being spoken, interacting with fellow travellers and explorers in different contexts and countries, people with varied interests and stories to tell. Throughout those meetings we co-created a shared narrative.
With fellow participants in the conference, we explored different topics and altered our perspectives. We forged bonds that will persist, some of them in new communities that we will grow as a result. In the meetings i had around the edges of the event, different forces were at play: talking to software startup companies, members of the military training community or academics studying social leadership, i got to understand their pressures and drivers, their experience and motivation, some of which i shared as we grew stronger bonds and created new meaning.
As i return home, i make sense of this: partly through the semi reflective process of writing here, partly through ongoing conversations and developing projects. The process of returning home, back to the familiar, is part of that dialogue: if we never return home, never return to what we know, we can lose our roots, lose our perspective, get caught up in maelstrom of the new, losing touch with the old.
Our legacy, our history is as important as our future: it grounds us.
For a country as young and dynamic as Singapore, this is particularly evident: the pace of change almost outstrips their ability to write the narrative.
In any learning experience, whatever the subject, we need to create the initial disturbance for change to occur, but we also need to anchor it back into our everyday realities, to craft our narratives, to tell the story of change.