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What drives you? Welcome to TEDxMH13: Values and Instincts

Shared value. Core value. Killer instinct. Familial instinct.

Our values derive from what we think is good for us – constructive, beautiful, useful – and as we understand what helps us thrive, we capture and communicate these values in our communities as traditions and laws, and, ultimately, build culture.

Instincts, we believe, are somehow more basic. We don’t think about them – they just happen in response to a particular stimulus. Our instincts express our native intelligence and drive us in ways our logical selves may not understand.

This idea of exploring the values and instincts of extraordinary agents of change through TEDxMileHigh team arouse as we began discussing possible themes for 2013, and the implications for discussion were astonishingly deep.

What happens when our values and instincts align? What happens when they don’t?

What can we trust? What’s the difference between a habit, and instinct and a preference – and why does it matter? What do we value in community? What instincts no longer serve us in our evolution as a species? What values can we rely on as humanity prepares for perhaps the most profound collective changes we’ve ever seen in our environment and societies?

The need to understand the implications of how our values and instincts as people, communities, and cultures create our realities in the light of the times became evident to me two years ago at a global health foundation event. Talking with an executive from a global pharmaceutical company based in Europe, our conversation migrated to the waves of protests against economic inequality that at the time were engulfing European and North American cities

The executive asked me what I thought was motivating the protests, and I went on for a several minutes about how I believed there were two tales in the American economy – one was about scaling technology, winning the battles of globalization and creating individual wealth while another was focused on a perception that our infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are falling behind, and that working together in community was how to get to the other side of the housing and credit crises.

Even as the words were coming out of my mouth a quiet voice in my head was curious about how to make these two perspectives see each other – global and local; scale and efficiency; resilience and abundance. The executive, as though reading my mind, looked me in the eye and said, “the global economic crisis is a values crisis.”

Work coming out of the University of Michigan looks at how values in organizations compete for expression – collaboration, control, creativity and competition – and are all necessary for the graceful navigation of challenges we face. At the end of the day, the full range of values and instincts we have developed since the dawn of humanity is required to rise above the hurdles we confront.

Welcome to TEDxMH13. Tickets on sale now.

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