Photo by Usnaps.com
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” – Paulo Coelho
This past August we had the honor of attending our fourth World Domination Summit – an almost week-long gathering of like-minded, purpose-driven world-changers in Portland, Oregon. The reason why we make the long trip over the ‘pond’ from Australia to the US (even when 4 and 5 months pregnant) is simple: to connect with our favourite people, clients, friends and colleagues in the world and to make new connections. Because nothing can substitute in-person, face-to-face time with people to deepen relationships. Video conferencing is great, but hanging out in the flesh always takes things to new levels.
This year though, it was unlike any previous event that we’ve been to and gifted us both some unusual and unexpected lessons. So what was the difference this year? Well a bunch of things, including:
- our partners travelled with us for the first time
- we both had ‘buns in the oven’ – (i.e. both pregnant)
- we now knew hundreds of people combined (as opposed to almost literally nobody the first year we attended).
But more than any of that, this year we were choosing to no longer hide as a participant, an observer, or an attendee. This year we were on stage and more visible than ever before:
- we were invited to run a 3-hour Academy workshop for 200+ people
- we spoke on the main stage in front of 1,000 people
- we were invited to parties with incredible people
- we hosted a VIP meetup, and
- we spent most of the time preparing and freaking out rather than partying like previous years (lol!).
We were daring greatly this year and we felt it because some of life’s greatest lessons come from when you are in momentum and experiencing life. Not when you sit in the stands, get lost in your thoughts, overanalyze and daydream etc. So given that, we have some lessons to share!
And if you’ve been following our journey pre-WDS, you’ll know that we have been completely freaking out about this call to ‘level’ up and have wanted nothing more than to run for the hills!
But of course, we strapped ourselves into the plane, jetted over and showed up despite that little voice inside saying ‘This was a VERY bad idea!’ We hope you get value from the following usual and unexpected lessons from World Domination Summit 2016:
Judgement is the Killer of Joy
This past seven months I have experienced my fair share of external judgement. For me, usually this wouldn’t be a problem given that I have done a sh*t tonne of personal development work, but this time it was super personal and I let it affect my life. But it was WDS that helped me to snap out of it…
Back in February I discovered I was pregnant. It was a very welcomed surprise and my incredible partner and I embraced the excitement of this little bundle of joy growing inside my belly. But as we started to share the news something devastating started to happen… some of the people closest to me started to voice their judgements. You see, from their perspective – it was either too early in my relationship with my man or they felt “how could you possibly have another child given you already have two with your ex-partner!?”
As it happens, Leah and I get to experience this wonderful time of pregnancy together, falling pregnant just four weeks apart (and no it wasn’t planned that way!) It’s been amazing and beautiful to share this precious time together and at the same time it has put a magnifying glass on other people’s judgement.
I remember on one conference call as we both broke the news to a long term friend – her obvious excitement to Leah’s news, followed by her clear concern for mine.
“Holy f*ck! Wow that was quick!” It popped out of her mouth before she could stop herself followed swiftly by a clear look of shock upon her face. I was confused and disappointed and even felt a tad bit sad.
My eldest brother even took it upon himself to reveal my news to others without my permission very early on by telling people in a denigrating way that I was having a ‘triple family’ whatever that means and “bet the family never thought you’d be the one having children to three different fathers!” It was a shock and hurtful. For starters, my marriage had long ended and there are no ‘three fathers’. It certainly wasn’t the loving response I would have liked from a brother who apparently prides himself on being a family man.
And it wasn’t contained to just these two, the judgements kept flowing from close friends and family. Of course there were those that were excited and extremely supportive but, for me, the very loud judgements drowned out any of that.
As much as I am strong and as much as I know this is their own sh*t coming up, I allowed myself to contract and I stopped sharing this beautiful and exciting news with any more people. I was done with the reactions and I was done with the projected judgements.
So it came as a shock to many of my close friends when I arrived at WDS with this apparent oversized basketball shoved up my top! They were shocked and so was I… Because instead of being judged, this time I was embraced and surrounded by all these loving souls who were so expressive for the joy they felt for me, my partner, and this little lady growing inside of me. And I realized something: I had been holding back the experience of joy from so many people on account of a few. I had been the one not letting all that excitement flow in (and out). It’s not that I had taken on these people’s judgement and allowed it to become self-judgement, but I just didn’t want to feel any more of the pain of people judging me for my choices. But in the process I shut everything down. I had let the judgers win. I had thought by simply removing those people from my life, I would be done with it. But that was clearly not the case.
Judgement, whether it comes from self or others is the killer of joy. And the only way to fight the war on judgement is to move it aside and keep ploughing forward. Because if you allow the judgment into one area of your life, it actually impacts the whole of your life. And not just your life but the lives of those around you. You steal from them what is rightfully theirs – their feelings about you and/or your situation.
Of course a world free of judgement would be a world I would want to live in, but until that day, I am going to do my bit in no longer allowing other’s judgements to have any control over how I live my life. I invite you to do the same. It can be tough, but together I believe we can do it.
2. Truly Hearing Someone is the Greatest Gift You Can Give
This is my friend Joel Zaslofsky.
If you were to meet Joel on the street, on the surface you would probably think he is just a regular guy. Well, maybe a very tall regular guy but a regular guy nonetheless. But get to spend mere minutes with Joel and you will soon realize there is NOTHING regular about him.
Just this week, I was sitting at the breakfast table with my partner who also had the pleasure of meeting Joel this year and he said to me – “You know Joel, he is one of my favorite humans in the world.” Now, Joel and I have been friends for years and I have always adored him, but I was curious – I asked, “What makes you say that?” And this is what he said:
- “He is genuine. He just shows up as himself and he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.”
- “He listens. Like he really listens. He cares what other people have to say and he genuinely wants to be involved in all the things that are important in your world.”
“That’s it?” I inquired.
Wow I was blown away. And yet that is as simple and as complicated as it is.
You can read more about how you too can genuinely listen to (or hear) someone else in the post we wrote here.
But the point is: you don’t have to speak on main stage, run a workshop or a meetup to make a difference. It is really as simple as genuinely and deeply caring about other human beings.
Wow, I feel blessed that Joel is my friend.
3. The True Measure of Leadership is When You Become Obsolete
Leah and I have been visiting WDS for 4 years now. And each year it has been a very different experience. In the first year we knew no-one, barely even each other. The second year we knew a few more people and by the third year we had begun to create our own community of rockstars.
And this year something really really cool happened… the community that we had been building for the years prior… well they didn’t need us anymore. We had become obsolete!
One of the biggest fears many leaders have is the fear that your followers or community outgrow you. But we say ‘So what if they do!’ This simply means you’ve done your damn job!
This year at WDS we weren’t as visible day-to-day as previous years. But the coolest things happened: our community, our ‘peeps’ organized their own shindigs, gatherings, meetups, house parties, etc.! It was incredibly heart-warming to see those connections that we’d been a part of helping form over the past few years or so now just so natural and organic.
And on the last night they all joined together, without us, and celebrated each other’s successes with a pre-closing party pot luck dinner.
Our plan and mission was a success.
See leadership is not about being out front all of the time – Lao Tzu puts it best: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
We believe in this so much that we have created a whole post about the topic which we will be releasing next month, so keep an eye out for it.
4. No to No Time – Show Up, Say Yes and Let the Extraordinary unfold
We had just landed in San Francisco and there were just two days until we were to deliver our 3-hour Academy workshop in front of close to 200 people. It was the first time Leah and I had been in the same place in months and we thought we didn’t have time for anything else but ‘get practiced and get professional!’
That was until my dear friend Chris Guillebeau contacted me to organize a Skype call. See this little workshop we were presenting, it had not only sold out, it had oversold and Chris wanted to give everyone at the conference an opportunity to hear more about community and connection. I remember moments before joining a call with him a little nervous wondering about what he could possibly want and Leah saying off-hand: ‘Well if he asks YOU to speak on main stage your answer WILL be YES.”
A little over 12 minutes later I re-appeared from the room, sat down next to Leah and announced… “We are going to be speaking on the Main Stage at WDS!” She was so excited until the penny dropped – “You said, we?”
“Yup, you and me.”
The color drained out of Leah’s face. The thing was, we had nothing prepared and we had no idea how we could possibly pull it off in the minimal amount of time we had. Because in reality, in between other engagements and domestic travel, we had much less than 3 days to decide on our talk’s angle, content, write it, and memorize it (we would have no speaking notes, no slide deck, just a countdown timer on stage).
But if there is one thing I know about Leah and I – we are CAN DO people and we were up for the challenge. Saying ‘No thanks!’ simply was not even an option in our minds.
And we did it – even if we only finished writing the 10 minute talk at 7am the morning we were due to deliver it, even if we had no idea how we were going to remember it all, even if I kept forgetting what I was going to say even moments before I stepped on stage, even if my legs felt wobbling and my heart pounding out of my chest…
We chose to step out of the dark backstage and into the bright lights. And the extraordinary happened. People were impacted by what we had to share, they took the message and were applying it directly to their lives and it was making a difference for them. But there were other things too. The unexpected! The many women who approached us afterwards and thanked us for being powerful – you see we didn’t realize but the mere presence of the two of us being on stage as women, mothers, pregnant and owning it, together somehow transferred permission to them to be powerful for themselves. We have even had someone reach out about a book deal. Yup, that book we have been wanting to write forever, well perhaps it is much closer than we all had thought.
As long as we are still alive, we all have time.
Your only job is to show up and watch the miracles unfold.
Say NO to no time!
5. That Having a Community Equals Far Superior Results
And speaking of miracles. After finishing our 3hr workshop on the Friday and racing to an audio check that afternoon before we were then due to be at the mainstage venue at 9:45am the next morning for makeup and then on mainstage at 11am we were both exhausted. Before heading back to our Airbnb to finish writing our talk and begin rehearsing, we ended up at dinner with our partners and a small circle of trusted friends to refuel.
As we looked at our watches, it was nearly 9pm, our eyeballs were hanging out of our heads and this main stage talk wasn’t writing itself! We asked our group ‘Could we run past you guys what we have written so far for this mainstage talk?’ Of course they said yes.
We finished the run through and looked to them for feedback. At first they all highlighted the things they loved about it, until that amazing guy I mentioned earlier, Joel, began to give us the ‘real deal’ on what he thought was good PLUS the stuff that simply didn’t resonate. What that sparked was one of the most magical moments of collaboration we have ever been a part of. We almost entirely scrapped what we had (all bar about a quarter) and had a fresh new angle to play with. Now while that sounds kinda stressful at 9pm the night before a presentation, for us it was the catalyst to taking the speech from mundane to magic. We raced home with new inspiration and energy and re-wrote our presentation fast.
The point is: everything always gets better with feedback and ‘user testing’. And while it can be scary to put yourself out there in case it gets shot down, it’s the only way to know if what you have in mind will translate to others or not. Always ask trusted friends or community members what they really think of what you are creating, before you blast it out from the rooftops. You don’t have time NOT to!
But of course you don’t have to attend World Domination Summit to uncover life’s lessons (although we highly recommend it!). You just have to be willing to step into the arena, show up, give something a go, and then be willing to take a step back and reflect.
So with that, what is the one thing you are going to say YES to:
- Releasing External Judgement
- Really and truly listening to someone
- Embracing the notion that you don’t always have to be the leader
- That lack of time is just an excuse
- To asking for help and surrounding yourself with community.
Life’s greatest lessons are just waiting for you to uncover them.