Maastricht, The Netherlands – September 15th, 2010 – entrepreneur academy’s Head of Faculty, Boris M. Riek, was invited to give a talk at TEDxEutropolis at the Parkstad Limburg Theaters in Heerlen, The Netherlands on September 10th, 2010. The event was successfully held truly across borders reaching three countries and ten cities. Its motto was “Ideas make borders fade!”.
Why was the event’s date so important? It was World Suicide Prevention Day! Boris M. Riek’s calm but nonetheless disruptive talk caught the attention of his audience by showing the enormous consequences suicides have for society. The official figures, current examples well heard of and a look into the mirror how society deals with it, made people stick to his talk.
One member of the organization team described the audience’s reaction afterwards like this: “The theater was well filled but one could have heard a needle fall on the floor – people were affected by it at all times during the talk”. Whereas another participant admitted that the talk had “hit right into my heart”.
Explaining how the illness depression is related to 90% of all suicides and how anyone can be affected, that depression has many faces and that it is treatable, the talk challenged widely spread prejudices.
Boris M. Riek used the event’s motto that “Ideas Make Borders Fade” to ask how important it is to make borders fade in people’s minds as well.
By showing how one person can actually make a difference and what everyone can do to help people in need, the talk offered support in answering the key question: How does society, how do you deal with it?
Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue. For years people working at entrepreneur academy have followed great movements like TED or TEDx conferences. Every once in a while an opportunity is taken to give back to the TED- and other communities that continue to inspire with such great initiative.
Transcript of the talk
Boris M. Riek: Why is today’s date important? Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. According to World Health Organization, we have an average of about 3,000 suicides per day, every day, heading up to about a million every year. That’s not counting the 10-20 times as many attempts. 90 percent of all those suicides result from an illness. The illness is called depression.
Depression can affect anyone. Depression has many faces. Depression is treatable. You may have heard in the past about some recent examples that came across in the media. You may have heard about the German entrepreneur, the fifth richest man in the country, a billionaire, who threw himself in front the train at age 70.
You may have read about the German soccer goalkeeper, a family man, a national hero, who took his life in the midst of his career. You may have read about the employees in Chinese and French corporations, who dominated newspapers for weeks. You may have heard about someone from your neighborhood. You may have heard about someone from my neighborhood.
Depression is an illness whose consequences are fatal. Depression kills more people in Europe than car accidents do. What does society, what do you, do about it? An average of 3,000 suicides a day. That’s one every two minutes, that will sadly add up to 40 while I talk.
Every single suicide is the result of a decision, someone making a choice. A person choosing between life and death. A person that might have thought that, actually, there was no choice. A person that might have suffered from depression, but got no professional treatment, who’s environment ignored all the symptoms, or he even got rejected, with all his signals asking for help.
Could be someone from your business environment. Could be someone from my business environment. Could be someone out of your private relations. Could be someone out of my private relations. What does society, what do you, do about it? Why is today’s motto important?
Eutropolis symbolizes a vision for a new type of city and for new mindset. It will change our mindset. The idea itself already does in many, many different ways. You heard the discussions during the day, you know you can catch up on this idea, so the change is already happening.
Eutropolis also sets an example, an example how a paradigm shift can make physical, geographical, and regional borders fade. Borders that were initially set up by people, as well, but based on their old paradigms.
Eutropolis challenges all of us. In order to make it happen and become reality, many people need to make that same paradigm shift. Many people need to believe that it can be done. It is aiming at changing one part of the world, this area. What does society, what do you, do about it?
How important is it, though, to make borders fade in our minds as well. Borders remaining in our mind are keeping up prejudices and social taboos. Prejudices like that one that depression is a lack of motivation. Prejudices like that one that depression is a weakness in behavior.
Borders in our minds keep up social taboos like that one that one just doesn’t talk about suicide or depression whereas, a matter of fact, they could even be the first step towards professional help. Those prejudices and social taboos have drastic consequences as long as those borders in our mind remain. They kill people. An average of about 3,000, constantly, everyday. What does society, what do you, do about it?
Borders in people’s minds limit their thinking. They make people remain within their comfort zones. They often make people avoid, to stay out of the crowd. They make people…We call it think within the box.
They make people often choose acceptance, and assimilation, rather than change and challenge, even if they actually know better. Borders in people’s minds lead to poor decisions. Too many decisions are driven by fear, anger, worry, et cetera. Too many people feel that they have to decide that way. That society expects it from them.
Borders in people’s minds lead to poor results. Poor decisions produce poor actions, therefore, poor behavior. Poor actions produce poor results. What does society, what do you, do about it?
Where do these borders in people’s minds actually come from? Like any other border, they were initially set up by people–personal experiences, education, social conditioning. Many, many more influences produce those borders, man-made, in people’s minds.
In result, it’s about how people think of themselves, how they perceive their roles in society. What identity do they have? It’s about how they deal with their states, their emotions, their souls, their place in this world. The U.S. American psychologist, Martin Seligman, defined the term of learned helplessness. Describing that humans actually have the capacity to create the state of “I can’t”, themselves.
People committing suicide who decide to take the action to kill oneself, too often believe, I can’t handle. I can’t deal with it. I won’t ever manage. How does society, how do you, deal with it? Well, there’s the good news. The good news is it’s learnable. Personality can be developed. Strength can be learned. Fear can be turned into trust. Anger can be turned into love. Worry can be turned into hope. Weakness can be turned into strength.
The psychologist, Abraham Maslow, created a model of the four stages of competence. Those four stages of competence can be applied in personality strength, as well. What does it mean? Well, there’s stage number one, the unconscious incompetence. Meaning that people have borders in their minds, and they just don’t know. They have no clue. They’re unaware. Then things happen.
There’s stage number two. The conscious incompetence meaning now they realize how these borders in their minds are actually limiting them in their thoughts, in their actions and, therefore, in their results.
Then there is stage number four. The conscious competence where people decide to make those borders in their minds fade. They learn new competences. They change their mindset. They develop new skills and they practice.
That leads to stage number four. The unconscious competence which means that people think of themselves differently. They just as a habit use different actions. They work in a different mindset. They live using a different mindset. By their stronger actions, they produce stronger results.
This model of gaining competence can not only be applied for individuals. Organizations and communities can gain competence that way as well. How does society, how do you deal with it? The question could be how important is it?
Look at open-mindedness. What does open-mindedness do? Look at kids. Ever asked a kid to write a list for Christmas. Ask a 18 year-old, a 28 year-old, or a 38 year-old? Kids have big dreams. They have visions. They’ve got open minds. Open-mindedness leads to different choices. People imagine things without those borders.
For everything, imagination is key. Everything man has ever achieved started in man’s mind first. It’s there already. Open-mindedness. It’s open minds that can free themselves from prejudices and social taboos.
How important are stronger personalities? Ask yourself, take a look at society. What do outstanding artists, outstanding athletes, outstanding entrepreneurs, other outstanding people, what do they have in common? Often, a strong personality. They defy the odds. They set new standards. They think in terms of, “I choose to.” “I can imagine.” “I will.”
How important are stronger decisions? The choices completely change. Stronger decisions lead to stronger actions, stronger behavior. In conclusion, they produce much better, sometimes outstanding results.
It takes a decision to overcome prejudice and social taboos. What does society, what do you about it? Now you can ask. Can one person actually make that difference? When you ask yourself, you might think of that story of that wise man who use to go to the ocean to do his writing.
He had a habit of walking along the shore in the morning. One day, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself thinking of someone who would dance to the day. He walked closer to catch up. Then he realized it was a young man but he was not dancing.
Actually that young man, he bent down reached onto the shore, picked something up and very gently threw it into the ocean. As he got closer, he shouted out, “Good morning. What are you doing?” The young man paused, looked up and replied “I am throwing starfish into the ocean.”
The man said, “OK. I should have asked why are you doing it.” “The sun is out. The tide is going out. If I do not throw them in they will die.” “Well young man do you not realize there is miles and miles of beach and star fish all along it. You cannot possibly make a difference.”
The young man listened politely, reached down, picked up another starfish, very gently threw it into the ocean past the breaking waves ad said, “It made a difference for that one.” I believe we can make a difference one by one.
Remember, it could be a person from your environment. It could be a person from my environment. I trust that you and I were meant as well when Nelson Mandela once said “There is no passion in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than your capable of living.”
In that sense, let us make a choice. Choose to grow strong and change the world.
About Boris M. Riek
Boris M. Riek came to the attention of a wider audience in 2005 after being named in the media as “Germany’s most expensive mental trainer” with hourly rates of upwards of € 1,200. The coach has now been active in the Middle East for two years and in his field of coaching well over a decade. As Germany’s leading personality coach for entrepreneurs, Boris M. Riek looks back on a client list spanning four continents – from young entrepreneurs in Germany to the owner of a global Korean consortium employing more than 180,000 people worldwide. Since 2007, the businessman, author, and coach is the Head of Faculty, coordinating the coaching, training sessions, and onboarding of new faculty members.
About entrepreneur academy
entrepreneur academy is a global coaching firm specialized in empowering entrepreneurs through systematic personality coaching and training since 1997. With offices in London and Berlin entrepreneur academy builds individualized, exclusive, and strictly one on one coaching teams around every single client.
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