Sarah Shewey

CEO/Founder, Happily


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How do you move inspiration into action? *A TEDActive Social Networks Project*

At TEDActive2011 in Palm Springs, an amazing group of individuals came together as a team to come up with a simple micro-action solution for finding a way to move inspiration into action through social networks. After a quick 36 hour period of time, they told us this story:

When I woke this morning and checked my messages, I had a link to a video. The video was made by two Year 12 students, Nile and Hannah from Huntington School in York in the UK. And they made the video to explain why they’re excited to hear about the TEDED program. (

They found TEDED through their teacher, who was sent the link by his head of school. The Head of School found out through Sir Ken Robinson who sent out a tweet asking people to support this initiative. Sir Ken sent the tweet because he was messaged by Marcus, a member of our group for whom Sir Ken is a mentor, a personal connection. In a single day, with 9 targeted messages, our group got the TEDED link into 6,017 schools across the US, the UK and Australia.

Rather than proposing a specific micro-action, we are proposing a new micro- philosophy. Know the power of the people in your network, know the way to reach them, and know to ask them to act in a way that matters. Whether it’s showing support for the middle east, participating in JR’s global art project, or spreading TEDED we’re asking you to be deliberate in your social networks.

When you share your ideas from this week, we’re asking you to be the signal, not the noise.

What are some other ways that you can move inspiration into action?

Please comment below or tag any new conversations with TEDActiveSOC so that we can join in!

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    Apr 2 2011: My dear friend, inspiration is limited in itself, like the experience because what meaning we are adding to our experience is more important than the experience itself.


    Ignorance generates excitement.
    Passion generates inspiration.
    Goodness generates reason.

    Excitement exposes the outer.
    Inspiration explores the surface.
    Reason inquires into the deep.

    Excitement reveals wonder.
    Inspiration reveals beauty.
    Reason reveals the inner Truth.

    Excitement makes us euphoric.
    Inspiration makes us optimistic.
    Reason makes us inquisitive.

    Excitement leads to illusion of love.
    Inspiration leads to myth of love.
    Reason leads to ocean of love.

    Shallowness emanates from excitement.
    Reliance emanates from inspiration.
    Liberation emanates from reason.

    Excitement is transient.
    Inspiration is resilient.
    Reason is timeless.

    It is always better not to take decisions when one is excited or inspired. When one understands the reason, decisions emerge naturally. There is no need for any effort. This is ancient Vedic law. Rig Veda says, “The place of reason is higher than the place of heart”.
    • May 10 2011: That's a really beautiful piece. Thanks for sharing it. I guess we can also find ways to somehow transmute 'inspiration' into something higher.
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    May 11 2011: MIss sarah, An important matter is there in between inspiration and action. that is opportunity.make use of each and every opportunity. when opportunity knocks at your door open it .
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    Apr 4 2011: This may sound extremely simplistic, but, I can assure you that it can and has worked. Let's use me as an example. I have an un-dying inspiration to see a major change in X. However, my inspiration will not accomplish anything other than being in a stack of things which I really never went after. You see, I had inspiration, I assumed someone, someone else would turn that to action. How wrong I was.

    Now, when I am involved in a topic/problem where I have great inspiration, I first find out what I can do JUST by myself. I have to start the process. I then go to my friends, not my friends with whom I hang out and just have a nice time, but the friends who challenge me in my thinking and I do the same to them. I let them see my inspiration, then I show them the action I have taken to date. Assuming, and this is usually the case for me, these special friends also have the inspiration, but, they are busy, have families, work a lot and so on, leading them to leave it all off at inspiration. However, this time I don't let them off of the hook. I ask them to choose a simple action which will help keep the action in play, moving forward. I also ask them to bring in their friends and family, lets see if the talk can really become the walk.

    If I don't overload them and have them thinking that only the eight of us will change the issue for the better, then I am on my way. I ask them who can help them with the tasks we have undertaken. We set up a an ad-hoc committee to make sure that our goals are correct for not only the issue, but the region of the country or planet. Regional answers are often a way to make forward progress. I then try to set up a Social Nation, using the many tools which let us set up our own social network where we can share in our progress and our lack of progress. It is where we can bring in new members to get them excited about being on the front line of change. It works, but, I go back to the beginning. I must start the action.
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      May 2 2011: Stephen, I like the sound of a "Social Nation" ... what does that look like when it's created? I'm curious to know more.
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    May 10 2011: Maybe in the so-called social networks are many goodwill individuals that use it for a responsable action.Spread the ideas in that new instruments give us a chance to know something new, but every technology born with his own failures and tragedies. Theres no any device to substitute the real experience and the symbolic foundations that we built in our daily face to face encounters with the others. The old social structures, the main net that weaving the real life can't be subverted with technologies....historically we progress from the carved stone to the twitter blink, but is just the shape not the essence. Inspiration really is not for all, inspoiration is not a democratic notion or human divine and we can¡t hold it like a piece of cake. Its not a common privilege that any could buy for a 5 minutes meditation....or a weekend with the chakras alignement....the social action is just that. Stand up from the chair, off the computer and go to the street. If you want know real social action see the work form Vicente Ferrer in India.
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    Apr 15 2011: Deb Roy's talk on Birth of a Word shows how specific we can become, with supercomputing, in tracking the many dimensions of influence of social networks. As derivatives are developed and the matrices become more clear,
    how will humanity use this information? For good to connect with gatekeepers and open flows of info or evil to tap
    into private information for damaging actions?

    How can TEDsters advance social networks impacts? Would it be useful for this conversation to have the questions listed which we asked ourselves?
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    May 10 2011: Being an example can always help to bring inspiration down to earth to do work and if you have been inspiration to people and people see you doing the hard work yourself and not only talk about nice things it, people will jump in to help and to be part of the movement or action or work you do...
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      May 10 2011: I agree Kristine. When we show exemplary behavior, very often other people notice and do the same ... because of this, good work can ripple through a whole social network.
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    May 1 2011: How could Facebook be used to return lost items from natural disasters?
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      May 2 2011: I love this! What an amazing use of social media to do good and to inspire others. Can anyone think of anything like this that we can do as the community?
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    Apr 27 2011: Sarah, you bring up an excellent point. We all have networks whether they are online or f2f and if we are thoughtful and organized with what we ask of that network, we'll be surprised of the response. Over the next week I will think of a way to push out an education based micro-philosophy. Thanks for the thought provoking post.
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      Apr 27 2011: Hi Dave! :)

      I love the idea of disseminating a philosophy, over Twitter or Facebook, in tiny, digestible bites. Is that what you were thinking of when you posted this or did you have another vision?
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        Apr 27 2011: Shanna!!!!

        That's essentially it. In building off of Sarah's idea, we all have a belief system or philosophy. Rather than asking our peers to immediately do something, I propose that we ask them to follow and perhaps contribute to a hashtag/stream on FB.

        We create the forum (hashtag/quora entry/FB post) that is dedicated to a certain idea or concept. Then we would begin to post our thoughts/ideas around that topic. This would culminate in an event where those contributing to the stream could meet up and plan how they can take those idea to action.

        The beauty is that those who just want to lurk can do so, those who want to contribute to the hashtag will simply add their thoughts, and then those who want to contribute and then take it to action/meet others have that option.

        It's a win, win, win situation. Now on to the planning stages....
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          May 2 2011: Dave, seriously, start tweeting with a hashtag of your choice and I'll reply. We can encourage other people who follow @TEDActive to do the same. Would love to see some of this come to life!
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    Apr 26 2011: I try to use my sites to Educate and lead by example people from all over the World. I hope to make a difference by helping Reconcile the Paths of Science and Faith, to heal the problems of the World. They were meant to work hand in hand and not made enemies. Without this healing we can not solve the issues that face us; to be good Stewards.
  • Apr 20 2011: I think of Twitter's use of 'resonance' when I see signal and noise, though the only true way to distinguish between these three sound-related measures is retrospective observation or after the fact.

    Shouting doesn't help unless there is resonance re-Tweet between storyteller (Tweeter) and story (Tweet) there is no further story whether it is signal or noise.

    Counter-intuitively re-Tweets may be either Signal or Noise and this also depends on 'resonance' between story (Tweet) and listener NOT the Tweeter.

    The story is a separate and distinct entity or in other words the Tweeter doesn't influence either the signal or noise, emphatic or loud as they may be.Storytellers or Tweeters are charged with tuning perception rather than the conventional wisdom which describes them as gifted moving lips or talking heads.

    Any story that doesn't involve tuning of perception is not.While there are many, many interesting possibilities with this thread one other perspective comes to mind which may facilitate its manifestation.

    The Sufis say only naive storytellers look for a question to be answered in the same story, and if a story contains both, they are unrelated in that one is meant to tune perception and the other to deliver the story.

    I look forward to following this conversation.

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      May 1 2011: Very interesting point of view and I am struck by the Sufi expression, thanks for sharing!