Thursday, July 19, 2012

What exactly is the World Domination Summit?

wds2012-470When I would tell people I was going to the World Domination Summit, I was at a loss to explain what it was, exactly. I floundered around a bit, waving my hands and vaguely talking about start-ups and travel, but I pretty much didn't have a clue. I was mostly going to hear Brene Brown.

It's been a couple of weeks now, and I think I finally have it figured out. So for those of you who have been wondering, here it is in a nutshell:

The World Domination Summit is all about encouraging people to discover practical ways to live a meaningful life.

I use the word "encouraging" deliberately--and not just in the rah-rah sense. I'd say encouragement--giving courage--was the underlying tone of the whole conference. And as Brene Brown points out, the word courage comes from the word coeur--heart. To practice courage, she says, is to tell your story with all your heart.

So there were lots of people there telling their stories and giving everyone there permission to do the same. That was the first amazing thing. We were told over and over again in ways large and small, "You are amazing. You are enough. What you bring to the table is important."

But if it had stopped there, it wouldn't have been very helpful. In fact, Chris Gillebeau, the organizer, sent out an email a few weeks before the conference that began, "You are awesome!" and I instantly deleted it. I couldn't even read any more. I was offended by it, and am instantly suspicious of people who will tell me I'm awesome who also happen to have books to sell.

Here's the thing: it didn't stop with a feel good fest. It prodded us to ask "what does a meaningful life look like for you?" And that was very different for different people. For some it was travel; for some it was starting a business; for some it was finding a company to work for that reflected their values; for some it was service and philanthropy; for some it was using the system to your advantage; for some it was running a marathon; for some it was writing a book. You get the idea. The important thing was finding those things that indeed matched your skills, interests, and (most importantly) values.

But again, if it had stopped there, it would have been only moderately helpful. In fact, this is the part I don't have yet. If I had left with only this piece, I would have left frustrated because I would feel like a fraud, like everyone else had it all figured out and I didn't.

It didn't stop there. We heard stories from people who had found what made their lives meaningful, but we also got extremely practical advice. I went to a workshop on self-publishing, for example, and it was chock-full of which publishing platforms are good for what material and how you promote things. Another talked about how you set up your work week so that you know you get the most important things done. We heard from speakers who talked about how to best utilize creativity and how "follow your passion" isn't terribly helpful advice.

It was that practical piece that made it work for me. I don't know what's next for me, but at least I have some ideas of the next step, the next little piece that will help me figure it out. But I needed the encouragement in order to do that, and I needed to know how to ask what makes my life meaningful. It all works together, and I'm grateful to the World Domination Summit for offering that.

Bravo and well done. Here's looking forward to 2013. Maybe I'll have some stories to tell. In the meantime, my deepest thanks.


photos from the WDS Flickr Stream, copyright Armosa Studios, used by permission.

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