Try This Fun Exercise to Inspire Different Perspectives

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of being MC (a Master of Ceremonies) to guide the proceedings of the national conference of outdoor educators in Sydney, Australia. More than 260 people gathered for the first time in 4 years (yep, COVID) to reconnect, share and learn from one another.

For the benefit of my North American friends, think of this event a bit like AEE (Association of Experiential Education,) only with different accents. It was a terrific event.

I am certain that each person could nominate their own unique and/or significant moments of the conference, but there was one early on in the proceedings that I noticed landed with a thud.


Brokering a Paradigm Shift


There was a moment soon after the first keynote presenter had delivered their address that I stepped up to the podium. Looking around, I sensed that I needed to carefully segue from this moment to the next, to help the message resonate strongly with the audience.

Using my index finger, I pointed to an imaginary clock face on the ceiling and started drawing little circles in the air.

I was playing Paradigm Shift, and within a few moments, I had the whole audience following my lead. If you’re unfamiliar with this quick, fun, yet powerful finger exercise, click the link.

It always starts with a little bit of fun, and then, something predictable always happens.

Some people think that they made a mistake and start over. Sometimes more than once.

I led the exercise 3 or more times to give everyone ample opportunity to get this right.

Then, I asked one very clear and important question:


What Did You Notice?


Invariably, some folks can’t work out what happened. They know it can’t be a trick, but they still can’t figure out why their finger starts in a clockwise direction, and then somehow, moments later, the direction switches. Looking around, thoughts of What magic is this? are etched on many people’s faces.

Carefully caressing this experience, I invite a few people to share what they saw happen.

For most, the lesson is really obvious, but for many, all they can hear is the deafening tinkle of the ‘coin dropping.’

In less than a minute, I demonstrated to every person in the room how simple it was to shift their thinking, by viewing something very obvious from a different perspective.

Their twirling fingers changed directions. Lesson gained and embraced.

Everyone was now switched on, leaning in and eager to receive the next keynote address. Exactly what every MC wants in an audience, not to mention, keynote presenters.


Want To See It In Action?


Man playing Paradigm Shift at NOEC 2022

You can, sort of.

Happily, this one-minute stunt is featured as a part of an inspirational end-of-conference video recap – click the link if you’d like to hear a small piece of how I facilitated this experience.

And then, try it for yourself.

Have fun and make a difference.


Photo credit: MLH Photography, with thanks.


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