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Imagination changes everything: Patti Dobrowolski at TEDxSacramentoSalon

Imagination changes everything: Patti Dobrowolski at TEDxSacramentoSalon


Translator: Mohand Habchi
Reviewer: Tulio Leao Ok, so I’m looking for a volunteer. Let’s see – Ok. Alright! I am going to choose you. Ok, now what you’re going to do is
you’re going to come up here and you’re going to get on stage
in this red circle here and you’re going to tell your big idea
for 15 minutes – right now. Come on up, come on.
(Laughter) No, no, I’m just kidding. But can you imagine –
I mean you can’t use any cue cards, you been standing back there or down here, running your talk over and over again
in your head, and suddenly you realize: You can’t remember anything
past the first line. Your hands are shaking,
your heart is beating you know, you think you might throw up. I mean what you’re going to do?
What would you do? Ok, I’m just going to take
some deep breaths, jump up and down lightly, then just repeat that first line
over and over again, and just pray that when I come out here
the second line will follow. I mean can you imagine
the stress – the sweat – the fear! Fear is wonderful,
because it sparks your imagination. Fear forces you to pretend. We imagine our way out of our disaster. Now heading for disaster
is something we do everyday, but it can bring out the best in you. Each of us is writing our own scripts. We’re starring, directing
and writing our own lives. Sometimes like a movie. Sometimes it’s a scary move, sometimes a romantic comedy, and sometimes it’s a docudrama. But all of it, is of our own creation. And where does that movie come from?
Imagination. Imagination is the engine of our lives. And it can get us into trouble. I can think of some times when we might and want to share
what’s happening in our imagination, and even as kids we learn early on that if we are not focusing
and paying attention, we’re going to get
in trouble for daydreaming. But when we use our imagination
in an expected and confined way, we call this brainstorming. Well, I want to talk about using your imagination in an unconstrained and an uncontrolled way that’s not going to get you into trouble. Imagination fuels everything. Einstein according to some, wasn’t the greatest genius
of our time necessarily. There was another guy, Henri Poincaré who actually was said to have equal
if not greater computational brainpower. But what made Einstein so unique, was that he took command
of his imagination early on, and he would run
these thought experiments. He’d think, “What would happen
if I ran as the speed of light?” And these thought experiments led him to make new connections
between existing things. Well, if Einstein can do it,
so can we. Ok? Let’s combine fantasy and reality; kids do it all the time. For example, here’s me as a small child. I was this cowboy. I was this combat fighter. I was this small racer on a bike, Tomboy, do you think? And these are slightly embarrassing but they’re not half as embarrassing
as what I’m about to tell you. How many of you remember
a performance art? I was a performance artist. I can’t tell you exactly
what I’m doing here, but I do know that I passed a hat
and made some money. A kind friend of mine suggested
that I go to New York, and take some formal acting training.
So I did. And as an actor in New York
you know I didn’t have any money, so on the weekends,
I would perform street theatre, and one weekend
I had a friend visiting from Seattle, and so we went to my usual spot,
57th and Broadway, Columbus Circle, and I got all set up
and then I did my performance art. Now, I will not reveal
the details of my performance but let me just say it involved
a Michael Jackson lip sync, a tennis racket and a moonwalk.
(Laughter) After I was through we passed a hat and you know we made 8 dollars, I’m thinking, “Whoa, ok we’re going
downtown for pizza.” So when our way down,
we passed through the Broadway district, and my friend turns to me and says, “Hey Patti, did you ever want
to be on Broadway?” “Frank, I am a performance artist;
I would only be off-Broadway!” But then I can’t get it out of my head, and I imagine myself,
“What If I were in Broadway?” I go down the stage door
into my dressing room where there’s a star and my name, and then there’s my costume laid out, and then I put on my make-up and go stand behind
that thick red velvet curtain. and wait for them to call places
and the lights to come down and that audience hush. And it was thrilling, I mean really. And it was a great fantasy to have
when I went back to Seattle where I was schlepping burritos at Mama’s Mexican Kitchen
on 2nd and Bell. I’d think, “Well, if I were at Broadway
where would the opening night party be?” “Tavern on the Green! Yes.” “And If I were on Broadway, well who would I be hanging out with?” “Oh, Lily Tomlin and Eddie Murphy,”
you know it was back in the day, (Laughter)
“Cool!” And then I put it out my mind and later that fall well I don’t know what happened
but I lost all my shifts at Mama’s and the NEA stopped funding performance art! Big surprise! And so came to the end of the mind, and I didn’t have enough money for my rent, and so I thought,
“Wow, what am I going to do?” so I grab a rake, and I go up to the wealthiest
neighborhood in Seattle and I start knocking door-to-door asking if I could rake their yard
for ten dollars a yard. And now, my hair is shocking pink, and I knock and I knock and I knock and nobody’ll even open their door except for this minister
whose yard is the size of a football field. And you know it’s a typical Seattle day, it’s like pouring and the wind’s blowing and the rain’s pouring, and I’m out there raking and raking
and the leaves are falling and I’m raking and raking. And finally that minister comes out and he shoves ten dollars at me and says,
“Go home!” So I do. When I get there,
my answering machine is blinking. Now how many of you ever had
an answering machine that blinked, raise your hand? My people!
(Laughter) And the first one’s from my friend Karen, Boop, “Hey PD, they’re auditioning performance
artists down the Seattle Repertory Theatre, you’ve got to go.” And the next one
is from my long lost agent. Boop, “Patti, I think I finally found an opportunity
to showcase your unique talents!” So I call immediately
and I get an audition, and then the next day
I go down there with my résumé and I get in that line, that goes all the way around the block. And when I get up there to the door, they want me to do a dance routine.
I’m not a dancer! But I just do the little routine that I can
and add some weird thing on the end and I’m just quirky enough
that I get into the show. (Laughter) And then this amazing thing happens. That show goes from that small theater
to the main stage at the Seattle Rep. And then, imagine,
six months later, it goes from the Seattle Rep
to the Kennedy Center in DC. And then six months later,
imagine, it goes where? Broadway.
Opening night party is where? Audience: Tavern on the Green. Patti Dobrowolski: Tavern on the Green. and during the run at the show
who do I get to me? Audience: Lily Tomlin and Eddie Murphy Patti Dobrowolski: No,
Steve Martin and Robin Williams. (Laughter) Imagination changes everything. You may not know
which of your ideas will happen, but the more freedom you give yourself
to write your own reality, the more realities you get to experience. When we play out here or in here, we transform our world. Later – and I mean much later –
I became a business consultant. Great job for an actor,
(Laughter) and one day we were in a meeting,
brainstorming meeting and a guy gets up and he, instead of scribing
on a whiteboard our meeting notes, he puts a big piece of paper up on the wall and he draws a picture
of what we we’re talking about. And that amazing mural captured
the imaginings of everybody in that room. And it was like a snapshot
of those imaginings, It was like a freeze-frame in that movie, it was like an Einstein thought experiment. How can we manifest our imaginings? I wanted to know. So, here’s the thought experiment I’ve been running with people
all around the world for the past 15 years. I found that when you are facing fear, or challenge or discomfort, if you imagine yourself
on the other side of that hell and dream that desired new reality, and then you draw a picture of it, and you add to it all the qualities and characteristics
of what you want to experience there, it will happen,
it will come to be. You just need to pretend
you’ve already made it, and then, like a child, enter into that world and dream it with all your heart, you know just play in there, you don’t need to worry
about how you’ll get there, life will fill in the blanks,
this will become your reality. You may be surprised by which pieces of your dream
become your new life but it will be the pieces
that are right for you. Take Landfill Harmonic. They live in a dump – really. They actually live in a dump. But what they imagined was a symphony, but in this city in Paraguay
a violin cost as much as a house. So what did they do? They imagined their city filled with music, and then, they made
their instruments from trash. (Video)
My name is Juan Manuel Chavez better known as Bebi. I’m 19 and I play the Cello. This Cello is made from an oil can, and wood that was thrown
away in the garbage. The pegs are made out of an old tool
used to tenderize beef and used to make gnocchi. It sounds like this. (Music) Patti Dobrowolski: Isn’t that amazing? Imagination is the one tool
we universally share as a species, and daydreaming is our common language. A great imagination
is required of everyone facing crisis, turmoil or disaster. So trust yourself, you are uniquely designed to face any predicament that you encounter, you just need to let
your imagination take it from here. Thank you.
(Applause)

51 comments on “Imagination changes everything: Patti Dobrowolski at TEDxSacramentoSalon

  1. #influenceisIMAGINATION Every creative child needs to hear this talk. I love Einstein's thought experiments.

  2. Patti, I hope you felt something… because I hugged you! 😀 I love your inspiring speech. I'm a 45 years old cartoonist in a small country, Hungary. But after your videos I say that in a couple of years – or months? – I will talk on TED like You. Thank You! You have added gallons of fuel to my dreams!

  3. Thank you Patti, not only will I be using this but I am sharing this with my family and especially my youngest daughter she is struggling with where and what to be. I will be also using your drawing the future talk 🙂

  4. Classic Speech. I am a toastmaster, and i noted so many amazing techniques you've used to engage the audience and make them feel comfortable. This is the 2nd video i am watching of yours, the first one was the one at Tedx Rainier. You are an amazing story teller, and you have re-ignited my passion for imagination! thanks

  5. Amen, sister! "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." 

  6. But no one tells you how to make come to be immediately in the now. Is now that I need to see it work tomorrow can be too late.

  7. Just very poor thinking and wretched imagination on mind and life….hard to believe that this person thinks she has something to share with individuals who truly learn, read and familiar with classical human psychology literature ??????? not funny…

  8. This lady is a true inspiration and one of those rare things – a really good teacher.   Use your imagination and your neurons automatically fire up, you will then know real power.

  9. I am from India. …thank you so much madam. …my goal is to spread this knowledge through out the world……in the future we are going to work together madam

  10. You are the best performer of all! Congratulations Patti, You have motivated me to reach my dreams!! Thanks for the inspiration!!! Today I begin the journey to succes!

  11. Such a beautiful talk, god knows I needed this now that I think of my life I recall everything that happened in my life was due to imagination good and bad both. Thank you Patti !

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