What Sonder feels like

It feels a bit like being slapped across the face with a salmon. A Sonder Salmon, if you will. Allow me to elaborate.

In early 2019 I was running a full day leadership workshop for 20 of Asia Pacific’s smartest leaders. We were 90 minutes into the day when every facilitator’s worst nightmare occurred: someone in the front row had fallen asleep.

What happened in my head next is what Brené Brown would call a “shame shit-storm”.

“This is going terribly. You’re so boring and disengaging. Who do you think you are standing up here? Is it possible you have literally bored someone to death? Why are you still talking? Leave now.”

I somehow survived the next few minutes and, once finished, I noticed the sleeper had risen and was walking straight towards me, beaming.

“Wow, Pete, I have to say, I’ve sat through a LOT of leadership workshops over the years and this morning is hands down the most engaging, insightful and practical session I’ve ever been in.”

I stood stunned wondering if I was now the one asleep, dreaming of this moment?

Before I could pinch myself to see if it was indeed a dream the individual added:

“Oh, just so you know I have Narcolepsy, so you might see me drift off every now and then. Normally it happens a few times in the morning and I think it’s only been once today because of how engaging and interactive the session has been. Once again, thanks, Pete I can’t wait for the afternoon session.”

I was so caught up in my own stories that I experienced a profound moment of Sonder; the moment when you realise everyone else is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Slap goes the Sonder Salmon.