A couple of weeks ago I returned home from a week crammed with insight, inspiration and transformation. Infused with energy during the 400 mile drive, I sang my favorite songs and listened to podcasts that reinforced my sense of possibility.
For the previous three days, while attending a conference called the World Domination Summit, I’d been deluged with stories, real-life examples, testimonials that showed me:
Anything, really anything, is possible if I just take action.
Now, that’s not exactly a news flash, not for me, you, or anyone who has opened their mind to ideas of personal development. But something switched over for me as I witnessed one successful person after another recounting their story, which nearly always began with “I had no idea what I was doing….”
Wait a minute. What?
I mean, all of you people who start amazing charities, create businesses that allow you to travel the world, write bestselling books, change lives by offering your talents – don’t all of you have copious amounts of confidence and belief in your own talents?
Haven’t you all been gifted by the creator with double helpings of said talent and competence? Didn’t you all immerse yourself in study and apprenticeship so you could approach your big project with the proper knowledge and training??
Um, no, apparently not.
In fact, I’d estimate that 90 percent of the successful, passionate entepreneurs, authors and activists I spoke with at World Domination Summit started their journey without the slightest idea of how exactly they would reach their destination.
In a matter of hours, my hundreds of reasons and excuses for not doing what I say I want to do were shot out of the air where they so reassuringly winged their way around me. Plop. Dead on arrival.
My ass had been officially kicked. Like really.
And I’m still smarting.
All The Excuses Fall Apart
It didn’t just start with WDS. An earthquake of transformation has been building in me for some time – it’s a natural side effect of the power surge of menopause. Portals of possibility have opened in my mind through conversations with movers and shakers I admire, through coaching, through the work I am doing in courses such as Summer Camp For Solopreneurs.
But mostly it’s been brewing inside. Two days before WDS began I hiked in the ancient forest surrounding Breitenbush Hot Springs. I walked along the narrow path, surrounded by glossy leaves of wild rhododendrons, shafts of sunlight bursting through gaps in the tall conifer.
A huge epiphany occurred for me during that hike, where I eventually found myself in tears on my knees. My monkey mind is often too busy to hear my inner guidance, but this day was different. In a matter of moments my excuses were methodically deconstructed and reassembled.
I knew right then that it was time to make a big change in my life, one I’d been thinking about for a while but had seemed impossible to actually manifest.
I’ll be sharing more details on this later. It was just so interesting that all this happened before I arrived at WDS, where I knew I would meet fascinating people, be inspired by motivating speakers, and make amazing connections with like-minded writers and entrepreneurs.
What I didn’t know was that almost every interaction I experienced would reinforce the message I’d received from my own inner guidance.
What exactly did happen at the World Domination Summit? And what is it anyway?
Although the name sounds a bit – well, kinky, or at least reminiscent of superheros and comic books, the actual event has nothing to do with either. Well, maybe a little with the super heroes…
The theme or underlying question bracing this event is this:
How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?
I see it as a gathering of kindred spirits on a mission to change the world, make it a better place, through their creations. Those creations are often businesses, sometimes nonprofits. They are books, works of art, teachings, really anything.
One thing that attracted me to this ‘tribe’ is the universal acceptance that prosperity and good works are not mutually exclusive. This is a concept I’ve been wrestling with for a while and I’m still sorting my way to solution in my own life.
Excited to share everything I learned at the Summit with you. I sat down and wrote a blow-by-blow summary that began to creep toward 5,000 words.
Hmm, probably a bit more than you want to read. So instead I’ll give you a few of my own most potent take-aways from the weekend. If you’re intrigued and want the full rundown, shoot me an email and I’ll send you the long version.
As someone who loves to connect with people, look them in the eyes, share ideas, inspirations collaborations – the most enthralling part of the event for me was the opportunity to meet and connect with so many fascinating, brilliant and like-minded individuals.
Whether it was at a formally planned meet-up, or in line for the ladies room, I encountered a plethora of new friends and people I’d love to get to know better.
And of course the conference included keynote speakers, smaller workshops, dance parties – and all the usual accoutrements of such an undertaking. (Oh, and some less usual ones – such as bungee jumping into the Columbia River – I took a pass on that one, but photos prove it happened.)
When Chris Guillebeau, the creator of the event, walked on the stage to welcome us that first morning I knew instantly I was in the right place. He told us that WDS embraces three important values. They happened to be almost exactly aligned with three of my top values.
Community (I call it connection)
Adventure (I call it freedom)
Service (I call it compassion)
Brene Brown, who has spent years researching how shame and vulnerability relate to our ability to experience joy, took the stage as the first speaker. She wanted to know what is so cool about being cool?
All it means is that we are not open to emotional connection. Sure we’re safe that way. But at what cost?
“The only true currency is in being uncool,” she told us. “Go forth and be uncool.”
What a relief for me – a person who has never had a problem being supremely uncool!
Brene’s work is all about vulnerability – and how it relates to our ability to experience wholehearted joy and love. Check out her Ted Talk – it’s amazing!
My eyes had welled with tears more than a few times while Brene spoke, but it was the next speaker that got me digging in my purse for the tissues. Hell, I’m surprised Chris didn’t hand out hankies at the beginning of the talk – there weren’t many dry eyes in the place after Scott Harrison finished his presentation about the innovative nonprofit he’s founded called Charity: Water.
Scott described a decade of excess as a young adult managing alcohol sales for exclusive night clubs, he spent thousands of dollars on drugs, booze and gambling and settled into a moneyed but spiritually bereft existence.
At around age 28 he left this all behind to volunteer with Mercy Ships, where doctors give free medical care for poor Africans, including surgeries for people with hideous disfiguring conditions. Facial tumors and growths the likes of which most of us have never seen and can barely imagine.
After two years of this, Scott realized the root cause of many of these diseases was lack of potable drinking water. People were drinking from brackish ponds and puddles, and many of them spent hours or even entire days hauling water from source to home. Wells and water purification systems were virtually non-existent in these regions.
Galvanized by the injustice, seeing a need that with a relatively simple solution, Scott set about establishing Charity: Water – even though he didn’t have the first idea about how a charity was run. What he did have was connections with individuals with access to money – even though most of these individuals rarely gave second thought to giving any of it away.
Scott’s story, and his moving slides, touched almost everyone in the audience deeply. By the end we were all standing up and volunteering to ‘give up our birthday’ for Charity: Water. This is an creative fundraising campaign where people can solicit donations for their birthday, rather than receiving gifts or throwing a party.
(You’ll be hearing more about this come September!)
This presentation gave me a new way to look at an old issue that has torn at my heart for years.
I’d developed a belief system that activism, charity, social justice – and the whole nonprofit organization sector – could only be a labor of love, was rife with organizational strife and basically a super difficult path because of the challenges of raising money.
I learned there can be a new model for doing good in the world – and it doesn’t have to involve scarcity consciousness or accepting that burnout is just a way of life.
On Sunday Chris Brogan talked about fear. He told us that the opposite of fear is not courage or bravery. It is surrender.
Chris gave me one of my most important takeaways from this whole conference:
When someone tells you “I’m disappointed in you” what they are really saying is: “You didn’t act on the script I had written for you.“
Wow. All I can say is that’s a HUGE change in the way I’ve viewed the world and my relationships up till now. I somehow never got that memo and I’ve spent way too much time trying not to disappoint others and leaving my own self high and dry.
Wish I’d gotten this particular message a little earlier in life – but hey, midlife is a great time to stop worrying about disappointing others and start focusing on not disappointing your own self!
Later we were treated to some beautiful travel slides and more inspiration to take action on our dreams from David and Audrey of uncorneredmarket.com.
The couple is now into year six of a round-the-world trip they thought would last a year or so. Along the way, through connecting with human beings, they’ve learned and grown and found countless opportunities to give back.
Their big motto? “Embrace regret avoidance.”
J.D. Roth gave us a similar message in the closing presentation. As founder and editor of the popular site Get Rich Slowly, and a co-producer of the WDS event, I expected J.D. to be an accomplished speaker. The fact that he was new to this – and nervous – yet there he was up on stage giving all he had was actually one of the most inspiring moments of the Summit for me.
It brought home the overarching message of the whole event:
We are all capable of so much more that we’ve given ourselves credit for. We each have something truly valuable and important to give to the world – and the only way the world can receive that gift is if we are willing to take the chance, step up, and give it.
J.D. reminded us that thinking, talking and listening about change is NOT change. All that matters is taking action. You have to do the work!
Change Yourself. Change The World.
And then to close the Summit, Chris Guillebeau blew everyone’s mind by putting some cold hard cash behind all that inspiration.
We’d been promised a closing surprise, but all 1,000 attendees’ jaws dropped in astonishment when he announced that against the advice of financial experts he’d made the decision to gift each and every one of us with a hundred dollar bill.
Despite operating the event at a loss the previous year, a generous anonymous donation and a small profit showing for this year allowed Chris to make this unprecedented gift.
But of course it wasn’t just a gift, or a refund of part of our payment, or anything like that. The $100 was a charge to all of us, a trust, an entreaty, a challenge. It said,
“Take all the knowledge and inspiration you’ve gained this weekend and turn it into something great.”
Of course Chris recently published The $100 Startup – a book that documents dozens of folks who have created profitable businesses with very little start-up money. Along with case studies the book gives concrete tips on how any of us can do the same.
That closing gift was a powerful testimonial that this man believes what he preaches. Talk about walking the talk.
I’ve got my “Ben Franklin” safely tucked away awaiting my revelation of the greatness it’s intended to create. Along with 999 others I’ve been doing some soul searching, delving into ideas on how I can take $100 and make a mark in the world.
I welcome suggestions (serious only please!)