The WDS conference was held a couple weeks ago. It was one of the few events I had pre-planned this year over 6 months in advance. If you haven’t heard about it, you can read more about it here: World Domination Summit.
It’s a gathering of passionate individuals with big ideas that want to make an impact on their own lives or the lives of others.
It’s a gathering of change-makers, innovators, do-ers, the ones who don’t see life as simply something that is happening to them, but something we are deliberately creating with our every breath and want to grab hold of it and start truly living.
I had a hard time describing what the event was to people who would ask me. “What do you do at the World Domination Summit?” they would say. Chris humorously pointed out at the beginning of the conference our standard response should be, “well, isn’t it obvious?”. He went on to describe what it was truly all about. It’s about 3 main things:
This was the core philosophy and I took it to mean: Community because this was a gathering of people from all parts of the world that are together because of a single idea — we can do better in this world with our lives. Adventure because you can’t truly feel Joy in what you’re wanting to do unless you absolutely love it and everything you do seems like an adventure. Service because you can’t live a fulfilling life if you do not give back to others.
There were five main things I learned from this unique experience.
1. MAKE YOUR LIFE A STORY WORTH LIVING
I kept describing the scene at WDS like a Sea of Inspiration we were all swimming together in. The Sea was our Stories. The stories that define who we really are, not the one that society tends to define us by. No matter how old you were, or what you were doing currently in your life, you were treated as simply another human being with something to share with the world through your own story. If you had a great story, you were going to get quite a bit of your very own 30-seconds of fame over that weekend.
WDS was not really a conference as it was a gathering where you could meet and connect with those who were on a similar path of living a life truly worth living. Some were on the path, others were trying to find theirs… but it didn’t matter. It was a large Sea of Inspiration and you could gain or give value any way you wished.
It’s the stories we created that will live on inside of us past the next few weeks when the buzz of inspiration has begun to settle down from WDS.
There were so many great moments at WDS.
I met so many great people I can now call friends:
I attended impromptu Meditation sessions organized in the mornings by Nathan Agin, on his own world wide adventures here: Nonestop Awesomeness:
Later that afternoon, I joined an Unconventional Fitness – Yoga in the Park session where the theme was of course related to manifesting Joy.
Later that day I attended a session by Jonathan Fields who I had only heard briefly who mentioned “achieving Joy can be a zillion-sum game: I win, you win, and someone I don’t even know wins.” I found out later that night only that Jonathan’s story included opening a Yoga studio in NY over 10 years ago when he was on his own path from leaving his job as a lawyer behind.
That whole day it seemed like the universe was coalescing to give me brief insights into Joy as many times as possible even as I caught the movie that premiered that night: I’m Fine Thanks.
2. LIVE BY YOUR INNER PURPOSE AND BE PROUD OF IT
I went to SXSW earlier this year and it seemed to be all about personal/business accomplishments over someone’s individual human story.
When you walked around WDS, any interaction you had would typically start with, “What’s your story?”. “What are you passionate about?”. “What makes you truly happy and joyful in this world?”. “What inspired you to be here?”. “To travel thousands of miles to a conference titled ‘The World Domination Summit’?”
This was quite a shift from SXSW where typical interactions were, “Check us out online! We’re awesome! I’m awesome! Here’s some swag! Woooooo!”
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, because it’s all in good fun, but on a personal level, I think there was more to gain on a human level with the interactions that took place at WDS if you were open to them.
It reminds me greatly of Simon Sinek’s brilliant TED talk on living from your Why: “How Great Leaders Inspire Action“. He explains it in terms of business, but it applies to each of us as humans.
3. EMBRACE VULNERABILITY. LIVE WITH JOY. AND DON’T STOP BELIEVING!
I had been anticipating the opening talk by Brené Brown for some months before the event as I had heard a great deal about her and my Yoga teacher had quoted her quite often in her classes. What I ended up experiencing was eye-opening.
If you haven’t heard of her, do yourself a favor and at the very least watch her TED talk: “The power of vulnerability.“.
She focused her talk on Joy and having the gratitude to cultivate it within your life. It was truly about living what she referred to as a Wholehearted life; a life worth living in other words. She’s done years of research on the topic and through her own personal journey has been sharing her insights.
She began with an eye opening demonstration that explains it plainly. She asked everyone to stand up and start laughing as hard as they could. Make whatever they felt like was their signature over-the-top laughter. Many of us fell over laughing and were very expressive in showing this emotion. Then she said, “okay now act cool”. Most of us stayed still. Standing in some pose that signified “being cool”. It was fascinating. As a society, she pointed out, being cool was actually the opposite of what it meant to be Joyful. She said we needed to be uncool and not afraid to let it all out. You need to embrace being vulnerable enough to act the way you truly feel inside. The willingness to maybe laugh uncontrollably in public for instance.
A quote from her talk speaking on Vulnerability- “the only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you’re saying to someone when you’re being uncool”
By the end of her talk, it was fitting she would have everyone get up and dance their hearts out to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing! Because we shouldn’t stop believing in those things which make us feel absolutely pure Joy inside.
4. THOSE WHO YOU ADMIRE ARE MORE APPROACHABLE / ACCESSIBLE THAN YOU THINK
I had followed another author and blogger, Pamela Slim, for quite a while as well after reading her ‘Escape from Cubicle Nation‘. She’s done talks at corporate offices including Google to help inspire more collaborative and meaningful work environments as well as just helping people who want to start living more fulfilling lives for themselves.
I walked up to her, nervous about introducing myself because I felt weird knowing her but she having no idea who I was. If it wasn’t for Brene Brown’s fiery opening session on being vulnerable I may not have said anything. I’m so glad I did, because Pamela is one of the most down to earth people I met for being an author and well-known figure in the community. She immediately asked me with a warm smile, ‘So what’s your story?’. I told her briefly my story over the past two years and the Joyful Breath Yoga project I’ve been working on the past 5 months; a project closely aligned with higher passions of mine. She ended up being very inspired by the journey I was on and was grateful I approached her to tell her it. This filled me with Joy, knowing that someone I looked up to could find even a small bit to admire in myself. She thanked me for sharing the story and took a picture of us with my Japanese headband to instagram!:
There’s a big life lesson to learn here. What we admire in others, is truly a reflection within ourselves. We see it in others because it’s something we value in ourselves enough to notice. We wouldn’t notice or recognize this trait or source of inspiration if a part of the desire didn’t exist already in us. Truly value yourself… Because you never know what you have inside which can inspire even those who you admire.
The main take away from WDS though was Action. Among all the inspirational stories, the connections and new friendships, and all the buzz from activity of the weekend, without any action afterwards, any ideas or motivation from the event would simply fade away. I came away with a firm intention of action after that event. I wanted to truly begin living from that place of Joy that Brené Brown spoke about on the first morning of the event. “There is no harder feeling to feel that Joy” she said. That resonated throughout my being, and it likely could be because I’ve been very involved with a project that I feel so passionately about that has the potentially to truly change people’s lives called Joyful Breath Yoga.
The reason I write this is because I could not have imagined I would be able to do this over 2 years ago today. The truth is, it’s never as easy as it seems. It’s easy to see someone like myself able to have the freedom to live and work from anywhere with an internet connection, but beyond the glory of that, you miss the sleepless nights, the uncertainty, the questioning of following the ‘right path’ (whatever that means), and the many hours a week spent non-stop working and weekends that are given up in pursuit of fiercely living a life with purpose.
The WDS conference holds a special place in my heart. It was two years ago I read Chris Guillebeau’s book ‘The Art of Non-Conformity’. I read it at a time when I was seeking what was possible outside the confines of a cubicle life that was slowly sucking my soul away every day. Chris went on an Unconventional Book Tour that year which passed through Cheyenne, WY. I remember there being 6 of us around the table at a small Starbucks there inside a Borders. It was an intimate opportunity for all of us to share our stories with Chris; a change from the larger crowd he drew in Denver on his way over where he had give a short speech in the book store.
I remember telling him briefly my story and feelings on work. I told him my friend Kunjan and I had been running our company Quark Studios on the side of our jobs for many months now and starting to grow some pretty consistent revenue from it but the idea of leaving a very stable and high paying full-time job seemed crazy. Especially when many people would have killed for the job I had, given that the economic crash had just happened a little over a year earlier. But he told me something profound that afternoon that has stuck with me ever since: “many people ask for advice, but it’s not advice you’re looking for. You’re looking for permission. For someone to push you, to light that fire that would get you started and youI already know what to do.” He was right. I did. Less than a month and a half later I put in my two week notice.
I was surprised when I talked with Chris again briefly at the after party that he remembered that afternoon in the little coffee shop in Cheyenne.
Based on Chris’s 3 main points behind the philosophy of WDS, I felt I had covered Community pretty well in 2010, when I became very involved with the Coworking movement that helped me leave my job. I’ve had quite the Adventure growing a company last year at it’s peak to 12 people working together with us and we continue to keep it going this year with around 7.
This year I feel drawn to the third aspect Chris talks about which is Service. He even ended the conference by doing one of the most compassionate things at a conference this size: Investing $100 into each of the 1000 attendees:
So as we all try to find where we fit in or continue on our own journeys, my takeaway has been to remember the three things based on the Core Philosophy of WDS: Stay Inspired through Community. Make your Life an Adventure worth Living. Take Action and don’t forget to be of Service to others.