Every human being on earth is blood-related by fifty degrees or less. Isn’t that incredible? We’re all cousins whether we like it or not. I learned this fun factoid from AJ Jacobs at this year’s World Domination Summit.
Earlier this year I begin following lots of blogs, and in the midst of mindlessly entering data at work, I’d listen to TED talks and random speeches by Danielle LaPorte, Gretchen Rubin, and other phenomenal folks. Time and time again, these individuals would reference Chris Guillibeau, a man who set out to travel to every country in the world, and the World Domination Summit.
I figured that if all these incredible people kept talking about this man and this conference that he was apparently behind, I had to find out more. When I did, I was astounded. There’s actually a conference for people who are into adventure, community, and service?! Shit, these three elements have been part of my life since sperm and egg joined forces and became me (yes I know that’s a weird analogy, but I’m just going to go with it). I love connecting with people, travelling & exploring, and making every effort to shift this world into being a better place. Upon my discovery, I knew I had to go. Not necessarily in 2014, but some day in the distant future. It would be an addition to my life list. Fortunately, circumstance jumped on my side and I was able to say yes to the direction the universe was pointing me in, and I bought a ticket at the end of February.
Luckily, the universe (i.e. ticket prices) also enticed me to leave earlier than I was intending, allowing me to arrive in Portland Wednesday afternoon, just in time for the first official Meetup of the weekend. The Meetup was held at The Oregon Public House, one of the coolest pubs I have ever been in. This place gives 100% of their proceeds to rotating charities. Being someone who has worked in the non-profit sector for most of my career and being someone who enjoys awesome beer, how could I not like this place? I mean really, why doesn’t every town have one of these, especially college towns (cough cough Ithaca)? The other phenomenal thing about this bar is that it’s family friendly. While the Meetup was going on there was a children’s concert inside and toddlers were dancing around with fairy wings. HOW COOL IS THAT?!
That was just the start to an incredible weekend. I met multitudes of people doing incredible things with their lives, listened to the stories of phenomenal speakers, shared late-night pizza outside a food truck with people I just met, and was sparked with fragments of inspiration that have been percolating ever since. These are some of those sparks:
We are all cousins. (AJ Jacobs)
I absolutely adore my cousins. They’re seriously some of my favorite human beings and I would do almost anything for them. When AJ Jacobs got to talking about how connected we all are as a human species and how we’re each blood-related to everyone else on this planet by 50 degrees or less, I was astounded. Jacobs mentioned that before he started delving into the world of genealogy he used to detest Judge Judy. Now that he knows she’s his cousin, he has a little more sympathy for the woman. And it’s true, when you begin to actually think of the people you interact with as family, do you treat them better? Do you have more compassion? What happens? Upon returning to Santa Fe from WDS, I began working intimately with a group of teen girls from Palestine and Israel who are in the States engaging in dialogue and working towards peace. Each of the young women I have met have been affected by the recent devastation in their communities. War consistently happens and it literally is cousins fighting against cousins. If we each took a step back and considered how close we really are, if we took the time to listen to one another, cry & laugh with one another, and relate like we do with our favorite relatives despite our differences, what could actually happen?
On a less serious note, AJ Jacobs mentioned that this knowledge is great for networking. He was able to get a meeting with George Bush Sr. because he told his secretary that they were cousins.
Take imperfect action. (Jadah Sellner)
This is where I flounder. I double check everything, think things over, sleep on it, procrastinate… and in the process I never get anything done. This is why I like deadlines, so I can throw something out into the universe even if it’s not perfected to the degree I expect of myself. I’m an idea person, and sometimes it sucks. Jadah Sellner said it perfectly when she said “how do vision boards and spreadsheets live together?” How do I move my visions for writing a novel, starting a business, going to grad school, etc. into reality. This is absolutely something I need to do more of- taking my ideas and taking the itty bitty baby steps that will move them to reality. I need to do less thinking about whether something is right or wrong and instead be taking that next step forward regardless of it’s state of perfection. One woman I met at the conference goes to the beach every morning and takes pictures and writes about what she sees and hits the “submit” button. That’s imperfection action right there and it’s the only thing that’s going to move me forward.
Be an architect of the memories people will have of you. (Michael Hyatt)
Michael Hyatt spoke about the three ways of living life: living the drifting life, living the driven life, and living the designed life. In the first two styles of living, sometimes a person can end up in a destination he/she never would have chosen. Rather, it is through living a designed life, one that is carefully planned out and congruent with one’s values and visions, that leads to the sought after destination. Trust me, I have found myself in undesirable life destinations on more than one occasion and even now I’m trying to get back on track. A designed life is exactly what I need. I need to consciously create a beautiful life that I believe in whole-heartedly. Just like with a gorgeous home, it may take time, planning, and finding the right people who can help me construct my dream, but it is possible.
I_________. (Elise Blaha Cripe)
I love when people ask questions that get you thinking about your absolute perfect answer. My favorite of these questions is “What Are You?” to which I respond in a variety of ways just to frustrate people. I love that Elise Blaha Cripe, the creative maven of enJOY it, started responding to the question of “What do you do?” by saying “I make stuff.” It’s vague, but it encompasses so much. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about an exercise that she gave us at the beginning of her talk: to take the sticker that she had given each of us saying “I _______________” and to fill in the blank with something that we were going to do/actually were doing or were going to be/were presently. Here’s mine, I am a story person. I love stories. I love hearing stories, I love telling stories, I love living the kind of life that births stories. In listening to one another, engaging in the act of storytelling, we are consistently learning about our differences, our similarities, folk cultures, beliefs, histories… There is so much contained in stories. That’s what I enjoyed most about WDS, hearing stories. Hearing about the frickin’ amazing projects that attendees and speakers are working on and realizing that there are like minded people in the world doing remarkable things.
PeaceJammers would love this!
Seriously, World Domination Summit is the closest thing I’ve found to a PeaceJam conference for adults. You meet awesome people, soak up inspiration, get energized to transform dream into action, laugh, cry, and feel safe sharing yourself with others. If you are a PeaceJammer or a former PeaceJammer, I highly recommend attending this conference.
So will I be going back? I’ve thought about it and trust me, it took me a good week to be able to detangle what I’ve learned (only a fraction of which I’ve been able to share in this post… I’m sure more slivers of it will trickle out here and there) and determine how I feel about WDS, what I loved, how I would have done things differently, and whether or not I want to go again. Here’s my answer: yes, I will absolutely go again. Not necessarily next year, but perhaps the year following… unless the universe hunts me down and sends me again in 2015.