An eye-catching title. Change it seems to promise is up to us – dreams could be reality – and so on. With a mixture of curiosity and anticipation I decided to sign up for the workshop held by the British Council Karachi in Collaboration with KZR. Associates. KZR stands for Kudos (Greek for Unique), Zeal and Renewal. It is a group of about 25 trainers who conduct training Sessions revolving around this Philosophy of Kudos, Zeal and Renewal.
There was a pot-pourri of people in the Workshop, comprising students, business men, professionals and house wives. The workshop facilitator was a young man, Farhad Karamally. It seemed a little incredulous in the beginning that this youthful guy could “facilitate” such a mixed group of people into thinking about making positive changes in their lives. One was soon cured of this anomaly.
It is possible to learn from literally anything that you want, provided your thinking was not in terms of labels that we pin on situations and people. A young facilitator could also teach you a lot if you cared enough to learn. And then again learning here was not in terms of the typical teacher student kind of learning. It was co-learning, where everyone learned from each other.
It is quite natural to feel a little nervous at the beginning of such sessions. Unlike a talk show or lecture where one could very easily doze off should the proceedings become tedious, a workshop always involves some kind of group interaction. Most of the regular workshops being conducted these days target professionals. This one was for all and sundry; and unlike the regular workshops where one has a fair idea of what kind of interaction will ensue, this one filled me with a little trepidation. What was one expected to do?
Hopefully it was not one of those sessions where people are encouraged to “snap up” their most intimate thoughts and feelings in front of a group of strangers.
It seemed that many participants shared my thoughts because several people expressed their feelings of nervousness.
Starting off with the thought provoking (and scary) quote of “change before change changes you” the workshop commenced. With brief introductions we were encouraged to relax and keep an open mind towards the days happenings.
Audience participation was encouraged from the very start. And as people began to get comfortable, things became quite relaxing. We were told to think about choices since we are choosing all the time. The concept of perpetual happiness was a little tedious however. I feel it puts a lot of pressure on people that they somehow “must” be happy no matter what happens in their lives. An interesting discussion ensued then on what happiness meant to most of us and based on those perceptions we could still choose to be happy in our own way. A happy person faced the same get-me-downs but was able to bounce back much quickly.
Mistakes were talked about a lot. It was alright to make mistakes as long as one learned from them. Blaming was not the days agenda as blame got nobody anywhere. A curious definition of insanity emerged which was doing the same old thing in the same old way but expecting different results. To change the results, we were told to change the way we saw and did things. The proceedings of the whole day, were interlinked with small, seemingly insignificant activities which however made a strong impact on the mind.
None of these concepts are knew. One could pick up any self-help book in a book store to read about them. In fact, quite a bit of the program was based on the sayings of renowned authors like Charles Handy, Steven Covey, Ralph Waldo Emerson and OG Mandino. The difference one feels is the group learning atmosphere which gives an air of discipline to motivational learning; giving one a chance to discuss some very thought provoking, vital questions on life (questions one has always wanted to ask) and to do that on a forum specifically meant for proper discussions rather than doing them as covert sweet-little- nothings talked over a cup of tea with a friend maybe.
A lot of group learning was done. Within a group many personal questions were discussed. It was amazing that so many strangers of different social and academic backgrounds who would probably never meet again could develop such instant rapport and go about the business of helping each other understand themselves better.
Most professional workshops are successful in terms of seats being taken; but the general consensus about motivation/self- help is that these are taboo areas entering the realm of the personal; yet again it was proved how wrong generalities can be. Without any sort of media advertising, more than the expected number of people signed up with quite a few being turned down due to space availability.
So, we do want to bring about positive change. And people who signed up and had the guts to say we’d like to make positive changes in our lives are living proof that it’s O.K. to talk about self-motivation without being classed as “weirdo’s”.
Change is certainly the need of the day. But are workshops of this sort the answer? Realistically speaking, what percentage of the masses could we expect to spend money on a day’s workshop to motivate themselves? One wonders about the impact of such a workshop in bringing about real change. In these turbulent times it is certainly a glimmer of hope. But whether this glimmer can blossom into something, remains to be seen. A possible answer to these skeptical questions might lie in the multiplier effect when the efforts of a few people are spread in their immediate community/family and spread further on in the lives they touch. Perhaps better understanding and tolerance with which the business of life is conducted.
And then on to the million-dollar question – could we really change the world? it seems the answer again would appear in changing “our” world first.
The efforts of these handful of individuals involved in producing workshops which empower people in these negative times is to be encouraged. We could see change happening if the people they train could be driven to create and give momentum to a whole movement of empowering change. This is easier said than done, but at least it’s not realistically impractical. We must have vision followed by action. We must continue to hope.
Starting from the 60 participants who attended, change is eventually up to the person. It can be the seed that can fruit into something concrete or fade away into the recesses of the memory as just an “enjoyable” time spent with some strangers for money well spent.