What Have I Done?

By Mark Tomaszewicz,
TEDxSanDiego 2012 Co-Executive Producer

On more than one occasion this week I heard participants question their own accomplishments following our amazing day together at TEDxSanDiego. This sentiment is understandable after watching 33 speakers and performers, of all ages, each with an idea worthy of the TED stage.

  • That guy developed a contact lens with wi-fi…what have I done?
  • They help prisoners be more than they ever imagined…who have I helped like that?
  • This man has cerebral palsy and climbed El Cap by doing 20,000 pull-ups…what’s my excuse?

First, any objective observer would say that the participants at TEDxSanDiego are an accomplished bunch. More importantly, the theme of TEDxSanDiego 2012 was Cause & Affect; it wasn’t Cause & Finish. Affect implies impact and I believe there is a subtle but significant difference between impact and accomplishment.

Don’t get me wrong, accomplishments are important and worthy of celebration. They are the result of imagination, effort and perseverance and drive our world forward.

Each day however, you have a chance to make an impact. A chance to use your talent, knowledge and time to further a cause, a goal or just to make someone’s day a little better. This is the message we hope was conveyed over the course of your TEDxSanDiego experience with each speaker reflecting the possibility of what happens if you do this over, and over again with an end in mind.

I spoke with Jeremiah Turner, the guitar player from Unknown Lyric after the event. I learned he is 26 and an accomplished artist and choreographer. I also learned he has been playing guitar for just four years. As you can imagine, this last reveal left me dumbfounded and a little deflated – four years!?

Sensing my reaction, Jeremiah didn’t say, “I guess that’s my gift.” Rather, he said – paraphrasing here – “If I could do this in four years just imagine what you could do or what anybody can do. That’s the message I want my music to send.”

That’s possibility. That’s impact. Both of which are within each of us.

Thank you for being a part of TEDxSanDiego.

Mark Tomaszewicz