I watched a TEDx Talk recently by Graham Shaw, a cartoonist and facilitator, who gave his talk at TEDx Hull UK under the title ‘Illusions’.

He began by posing a question to the audience, “How many of you can draw?” Not surprisingly, the positives were only about 2% of the group.

He proceeded to show and then lead the audience in some simple steps to produce cartoon characters and, being somewhat arty in an aspirational way myself, I followed along and produced some pretty passable efforts. I certainly had a great sense of satisfaction in my efforts and I sensed that the audience had too.

Interestingly, Graham then recounted a story about being invited to teach similar skills to stroke victims who otherwise had been finding it extremely difficult to communicate. The resulting drawings, which he displayed, were of fantastic standard and were even more remarkable in that many of the people were drawing with their weaker hands, having lost the power on their naturally dominant side.

Challenge your beliefs

It was striking that in the same way that I and fully able-bodied people were delighted at being shown how to do something that we didn’t believe we could. The same delight was evident in the photographs of those people who had to overcome significant physical limitations in order to produce a similar result. It was really inspirational.

As I watched, I couldn’t help but think that there was an even greater lesson in the talk than just showing us that, despite our beliefs, we could actually draw. That, in fact, we were also being asked the bigger question, “What else do you believe that you cannot do and how is it limiting you?”

However, no sooner had I thought that I had uncovered a wonderful insight, Graham Shaw himself, in his wrap up, posed that very question about limiting beliefs and asked, “If we addressed or challenged these beliefs rather than just accepting them, what else might be possible?”

I would like to think that it was a case of great minds thinking alike, but that would just be cheeky!

Start with a small step

In any event, why not give his question some thought. Pick one thing that you think you can’t do and ask yourself how it might be stopping you or holding you back? What might you do to challenge that thought? What small step could you take to test if it is true?

Go for it!

Finally, the TEDx Talk itself contained really cool instructions on making some simple cartoon drawings, you might be interested in trying it for yourself or passing it on to a child to have fun with. Here is the link: Graham Shaw – TEDx Hull