In my career as a disability advocate, I have been doing presentations and workshops at conferences since 1980. In these 40 years, I have done thousands of keynotes and presentations all around the world. This has been incredibly satisfying and deeply instructive, where I feel I have learned so much more that I have given.
For many of these talks, the conference planners have done evaluations and will often send these to me so I can learn from the assessments and continually improve. I love to get these reviews and read them over thoughtfully.
So, I recently returned from a major conference in central PA where I did the keynote on social capital and macro change, and was excited to get the program evaluations a few weeks later. Most of the responses were very positive with accolades given to both the content as well as style of my talk. But there was one response that stated: “I have heard Dr. Condeluci present before, 6 or 7 years ago, and although his power point has changed a bit, his talk was almost exactly the same.” I wasn’t sure how to take this feedback and initially thought it was deeply critical, as if I have been stagnant and hadn’t grown in my thesis and perspective.
But when I shared this feedback with a friend, his reaction was: “what do you expect, in spite of continued poor outcomes, services for folks with disabilities are essentially still the same.”
Certainly I don’t want to be stale, but in a way, the basic values of community and relationships, which are at the core of my thesis of community engagement and macro change, are timeless - and repetition may actually be a good thing - until things actually change.