The university I attend has a distinguished speaker series where they invite pop culture icons, politicians, motivational speakers, and the like to talk at our performing arts center. I attend as many as I can, but I usually do not find the speaker terribly interesting. I recently attended one that I found entertaining, interesting, and memorable. The speaker was Frank Warren and the topic was PostSecret. Frank Warren challenged individuals by giving them the following postcard,
In 2004 he printed 3,000 of these postcards and started passing them out to anyone who would take one. Today over 2 million postcards have been submitted to the PostSecret project. I recently purchased one of his books to get it signed at his speaking event. Every book has secret’s almost everyone can relate to (but maybe not admit to). Here are some of Frank’s favorites,
As I read through the book that I purchased, I stopped at the postcard below and stared at it for about 5 minutes.
Not because it particularly stood out to me. Most postcards had elaborate art and text, and you could tell a lot of time had been spent on it. Why did this piece stand out? Because it was my own handwriting! Many years ago one of my high school teachers found discovered PostSecret. All the students in my class were assigned to make a card and send it in. The reason I sent in this secret, which is probably the blankest postcard in the book, is because,
- It’s the first thing I thought of. At the time I was very interested in philosophy and this was a branch from that stem.
- I couldn’t think of any fanciful secret that was worthwhile
- I’m a student and I wanted to finish the assignment as soon as possible!
After my 30 seconds of brief creativity in this card, I completely forgot about the project and probably went on to kill bigger fish, like my lunch plans at the cafeteria.
It’s interesting to see that the small things you do (for me this postcard), can come back full circle. After doing some follow-up for my postcard online I found that it had inspired a short 5 minute movie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1362124/ and a one-act play http://www.nilesstar.com/2010/09/28/chicago-playwright%E2%80%99s-one-act-piece-debuts-in-niles/. The play was created by Jessica Puller and ended up winning the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild Play Competition for Youth Theatre.
I was surprised to see something as small as a 30 second activity had caused others to spend days and months on creating something new and meaningful.
My take away from this is that the smallest things you do; whether it is your daily routine, a piece for work, or a school assignment, can turn into something much more significant to someone else in a different way. Anybody can look at their daily activities and think little of it, but what you do may inspire others. There’s just no way of knowing what it is or when it happens.