At Lenovo we are innovators who relentlessly pursue new ideas. We welcome Wesley Della Volla as he explores the power of facing and overcoming challenges which ultimately led him to his incredible career as a storyteller, producer, and educator.
by Wesley Della Volla
Challenges are a part of life. We will all face them, multiple times a day. We can’t control that fact of life. There will be homework assignments and group projects we’ll dread, but we have to do them. Today alone for me it was something small like organizing my closet and something really big, like how do I build a curriculum that teaches students how to tell the story of climate change. We want to overcome challenges for many reasons. Today I need space for my clothes and I want to do my job well; you may need a clean house or to create a new technology to do it for you.
Now I might be the exception to the rule but I love a challenge, the big and the small. There is nothing like a good problem to be solved. It’s even better if someone is fairly confident there isn’t a solution. I’ll be honest, I of course love a good solution a bit more. I mean who doesn’t like having the answer?
I know, to get to that solution and feeling of satisfaction is going to take work, which isn’t always fun. My really big project--creating a syllabus--takes hours of research, reading, writing, and review. I can’t change what work it takes but I can control how I tackle the task. Dragging myself reluctantly through a problem isn’t going to help me get an answer and definitely won’t help me get it done any sooner.
So I choose to greet challenges with enthusiasm. For me, every challenge is an opportunity to learn something new and create a new solution to my problem. Can I solve this puzzle? Can I beat the game? Every expert I talk to teaches me something new about the science of climate change. Every word I write helps me get better at communicating. Both are adding to my own mental toolkit so that I can be even better prepared for the next challenge.
Sometimes we learn something unexpected, something that will be filed away to help us solve a problem in the future. Hopefully we also get the solution we need but that is part of the experience of learning. The unexpected answer just around the corner, the curiosity rewarded with a new fact that makes you the friend everyone thinks should be on Jeopardy!, or you find the solution to a big problem that makes the world that much better. Regardless of the result, thinking about your next challenge as a chance to learn and experiment makes finding your answer that much easier.
Having an “all-in” mentality is contagious. You'll quickly notice that it makes any challenge even easier by rallying teammates and partners to help you find the answer. Every one of the Field Experts you'll meet in this community has collaborated with me to overcome a challenge or find a solution to a problem. Each team member helps by adding new perspectives, their own expertise and experiences.
The big problems that we all face--the climate crisis, social justice, access to technology and education--will require teamwork to tackle but solving them seems possible when we work together. No one person can carry all the weight to find solutions to these issues. Even more important, it means every answer is more innovative, resilient, and successful for more people, because we all contributed to the answer.
Wesley Della Volla is an Adjunct Lecturer at Georgetown University and the Founder of Meridian Treehouse, a Washington, D.C.-based strategic storytelling & experience innovation collaborative. You can follow him on Twitter here.