The IDEO learning experience moves people and shapes beliefs

I’m Oana from Pixelgrade, and I just finished the Storytelling for Influence course. I documented the journey along the way, and now it feels like good timing to share the actual story I wrote. Big thanks to the lovely community of IDEOers — teaching assistants, fellows, hustlers of any kinds.

March 3, 2017
Reading time 5 – 7 minutes

This story is a selfish one. It drains me out in so many ways. I feel exposed, shy, excited, anxious, curious, and everything in between. I don’t remember living all these intense emotions in the front of the blank paper. ‘‘Why’s that?’’

I kept asking myself. It’s because my teammates will read it and they’re part of it, even though not into the spotlight? It’s because everyone nowadays wants to look stronger and confident and I will show the full opposite? It’s because I have so many mixed feelings about this story? I guess there’s a bit of all of these struggles and much more than that.

Pixelgrade is all about belonging.

Common values last in the long run.

I’m Oana, and I’ve been part of this crew for a year now. I’m living on a roller coaster in so many regards. We’re a bunch of creative people with different personalities, complicated histories, and backgrounds, contrasting ways of understanding and seeing the world. These offbeats are both the fuel of our creativity and the reason for electric debates.

Even so, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be in the middle of things. I always learned and evolved best from embracing challenges, not watching them as a bystander. I guess that explains why some of my role-models are sports pros.

They don’t quit. They don’t skip the training. They bravely risk. They take it from zero. They ask for help. They don’t settle. They aim for more and for better. In some regards, I believe I got tiny pieces from their DNA.

They’re, by default, people with high adrenaline and a tremendous perseverance to draw a positive impact. Something I’m looking forward to everything I’m doing. It’s my bold goal and my biggest fear as well. It’s my selfish balance and my drive to keep the momentum.

I’m proud and grateful to be a piece of the Pixelgrade puzzle. I mean it. There’s no marketing pitch around here. Nor a deep desire to impress someone. It is for the first time in 28 years since I genuinely live this exciting feeling of belonging so fiercely.

And I did quite a lot of things until today. I used to lead striking creative tribes. I connected the dots to build witty liaisons for entrepreneurs. I was an ambitious community glue.

The only difference is that now I’m profoundly attached to the mission more than anything else. I don’t resonate with everyone and everything around here, but I’ve learned to accept it and focus my energy on the bigger picture. What truly matters is that I am on the same page with my inner-why.

‘‘Too much Pixelgrade in your life.’’

The SMS that seemed to be off-track.

I don’t make many differences between work and home because there’s no such thing. There’s doing what I love and living a lifestyle that blends with my passion. There’s me doing my best to push things and people further.

I was surprised when my older sister wrote me an SMS with one single line of text: ‘‘Too much Pixelgrade in your life.’’ I was amused, then intrigued, then a bit surprised, then worried, but now I made peace with myself. I understood that she’s right concerning how many hours and mental space I fill with what’s happening at the office. I have no excuse to neglect myself, the family & friends or the passions I have. It was good timing to break and rethink, even to reshape the journey.

She was also somehow wrong because there’s not too much Pixelgrade in my life, there are too little reasons to do something else. Why should I switch the path if I found my tempo? Are these zig-zag movements a better way to explore my creative potential? I guess not. Or not yet.

On top of that, I don’t really feel that I’m working per se. That’s why I don’t like at all the Romanian word that describes the act of working — muncesc. It lacks emotion. It’s like something that you do just for the sake of it, without investing too much joy and temper.

I’m just doing what I know best, next to a handful of people from whom I can learn, and in a scenario full of privileges. Maybe that’s why I talk so appreciative about what we do, how we do it, what makes us tick and what keeps our wheels spinning over and over again. And if I would be forced to use just a single word I would go with belonging without hesitations.

Cherish the cracks

Acceptance is a virtue.

When I feel I’m part of something in a purposeful way, I automatically drop all the boundaries. That’s the moment when I know I’m free. When I can drive positive impact. When I give my best. When I reach my full creative potential. When I preach zealously. When I have full speed and energy. When I feel I matter. Because being appreciated is not a whim. It is an inner need that we all experience. At least this is the most recent piece of the puzzle I’m exploring with excitement and joy.

I have the grit to accept this reality and live with it in peace and harmony, and I’m able to see the real beauty in everything I do and act accordingly. So, if you do one single thing after reading this story, do this: learn to live authentically and embrace the path.

Because we’re all in this together.

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