Stroke of Insight


5th TEDucation Session

Date: 30 January 2012

TED Talker: Jill Bolte Taylor

Presenter: Susan Brown, Economic Development & Culture

Event Poster

Feedback and lessons learned:

Reflections from Susan Brown:

Q: Why did you want to show the TEDTalk you did to the TPS?

A: I first saw Jill interviewed on CBC’s The National and was so intrigued by her story that I did some internet research and stumbled across her TEDTalk. Jill recounts her work as a brain scientist and what happened to her when she herself suffered a massive stroke in the left side of her brain. After several years of intensive rehabilitation and recovery, Jill now speaks compellingly about how her stroke unleashed the creativity of her right brain and how we all could benefit from accessing this underutilized part of ourselves. As a person who has excelled using my left, analytical brain both in school and at work, Jill’s story was striking to me by advocating a more balanced approach to thinking and being in the world. ┬áCombining linear, logical thought with non-linear, creative and innovative modes of being is a powerful model. It also explains why I get my best ideas not sitting at my desk, but in the shower, or on the bike, or listening to music, or just before falling asleep. I wanted to share Jill’s story with my TPS colleagues because watching Jill sent shivers down my back — and anything that is so viscerally compelling is worth sharing.

Q: How does the topic impact the work that you do?

A: Jill’s story reminds me that my work and the work of others will be more creative and innovative if we give ourselves permission to access parts of ourselves that we normally repress, ignore or devalue. In this increasingly complex policy landscape, it is through connections to people and building trusting relationships that we discover new ways of doing things. These are not just left-brain activities — they require a balance of left and right, words and images. Listening to music, doing yoga, going for a skate, watching TEDTalks and YouTube videos — these and other activities kick-start the creative juices and are as much a part of the work we do as reading current research and policy reports and writing briefing notes and staff reports.

Q: What value did you take from the discussion afterwards?

A: It was extremely gratifying to me to share the TEDTalk with like-minded (and like-hearted) colleagues. The discussion was open, frank and emotional. It was fun and fulfilling to connect with other members of the TPS that had never met before but with whom we created common ground.