In the Spotlight with Joy Rebel Brad Montague
When it comes to the principle of Joy, there is no better exemplar than one of our favorite humans in the world: Brad Montague. Brad is the creator of Kid President and the founder and chief dreamer for the Montague Workshop. He not only coined the phrase JOY REBEL—he is the greatest JOY REBEL we know.
As you know, in The Experience Lab we are passionately committed to designing for and with Joy while engaging and inspiring leaders and caregivers to become possibilitarians for their organization and the industry. How would you define the principle of Joy and what it means to be, as we like to say, a possibilitarian?
Brad Montague (BM): You and your Lab Partners have been on a really big adventure together—shaping the future of health care and the health care Experience. And it brings me great Joy knowing that there are humans like you in the world doing this important work. You all help me understand what you mean by the word possibilitarian. The way I see it, a possibilitarian is anyone who sees that the world still pulses with possibility—someone who can LOOK at a hopeless case and still see hope. In your work, it’s people who aren’t just about health care, rather about human care. Possibilitarians are out there helping others be stronger, be better—and as Kid President would say, “gooder.” You don’t just see the work as is—you see it as it could be.
Seeing the world through a lens of possibility means drawing on who we once were as children. Remember the beauty of LIVING in a childlike space where your eyes were filled with wonder, awe, and there was infinite possibility?
Remember those people who had a deep impact on you? And they might not even have known it! Who did you need as a child? How can you be the person who you needed when you were younger?
Sometimes I do this exercise with folks and have them think about a person who changed their world for the better, someone who showcased a new possibility. Think about that person and fill in, “I am ________ because you were ________.” Try it! Fill it in. And better yet, fill it in and send it to the person you wrote about.
Can you share a bit about the work you do to bring more Joy to the world?
BM: Let me answer your question with a question, “What do you see every day when you are with other human beings?” My life’s work is seeing the world through the eyes of a child. I try to see the way I did as a child—with wonder. I spend my time being around kids, in classrooms, and at camp. I LOVE having kids open up and share what’s important to them.
Being a better grown up requires thinking more like a child. I’m not telling you to be childish but childlike. Think about how can you see the world with such wonder? What are you afraid of? What do you care about? How can I be a better grown up? When you are childlike you see the world with wisdom, wonder, and whimsy.
When you remember what it’s like to be a child you begin to no longer see a box but a spaceship. You see possibility instead of mud puddles. You see potential in every problem… becoming probertunities. Kids I know see homelessness and gather socks with such Joy! It happens in October, Socktober, and in every state. Kids choose to make great things happen for other kids. Another group of kids I know started a soup kitchen. One started a beauty pageant with kids who have special needs. And they aren’t doing this out of guilt but pure Joy, beauty, and LOVE. I am fueled by LOVE.
Sonia Sotomayor once sat next to me at a dinner party, and she asked me, “What do you love, about what you do?” This simple question unlocked me! I had never thought about that. I told her, “I love going to the classroom and seeing kids open up.” She told me, “I help give a voice to people who don’t think they have a voice.” Wow! So I ask you, “What do you love, about what you do and is that love visible?”
What is your advice and hope for our Lab Partners?
- BM: My hope is that your time in The Experience Lab launches you out to fly and help others fly, and that the work that has happened in The Lab is known and felt by all the people you touch. Never forget we need each other, because no one flies alone.
- Next time you meet someone, instead of asking, “What do you do?” ask, “What do you love, about what you do?” Instead of getting a job description, you’ll hear inside their hearts. Then ask yourself, “What do I love, about what I do, and is that love visible?”
- Remember, this is a Joyful rebellion. Live differently, not because you’re mad at how things are, but because you are swelling with Joy at the thought of how things could be. Rebel against the mundane, the mediocre, the middle-of-the-road to bring beauty, magic, and Joy to your work and the world. Draw your circles wide. It’s the difference you can make and the LOVE and Joy that you can show.