Imagine walking into a room and seeing nothing but a sea of smiling faces. They’re happy to see you.
They’re all smiling at you because they like you and what you stand for. They like what you stand for because it’s what they stand for as well.
This is how I spent all of last weekend: saying hi to friends I’ve always had but never got around to meeting.
There’s a little conference called The World Domination Summit, and I was lucky enough to snag a ticket for this year’s event. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew that with the kind of people who attend, I was in for nothing short of the time of my life.
I was not disappointed.
The Power Of Human Connection
Some say the common theme of the World Domination Summit is unconventional people coming together from all over the world to gather and exchange stories about the amazing things they’re doing.
Well, I would say the theme of the World Domination Summit is for people to come together from all over the world to gather and exchange hugs.
The amazing part is that I’m only kind of joking.
On the left is a picture of Pam Slim and I greeting each other outside of the theater at WDS. If you don’t know already, Pam was a guest speaker on a cruise I went on last year hosted by Natalie Sisson and Natalie MacNiel. I’ve always been a fan of her book Escape From Cubicle Nation, and she’s become someone I deeply admire and aspire to emulate.
And despite the fact that she’s about to become a two-times bestselling author (I predict her new book will do even better than her last one), she saw me and gave me the biggest most genuine hug.
If you go to Chris Guillebeau’s Flickr stream and look at the photos from WDS, you’ll find that a high percentage of them are of people hugging. It was amazing because I’m a big fan of hugs and not only were hugs accepted, they were welcome.
There’s absolutely no equivalent to actually touching another human being physically. Even being in the same room with another living and breathing body allows you to access a part of them that would remain closed to you in a purely virtual relationship.
It changes you.
There’s an invisible connection that happens almost instantly, and if the other person is as present as you are in that moment, it’s unforgettable.
Those moments were happening all over Portland during WDS. They were like thousands of tiny sparks flitting around the population every minute. You could feel it when you walked by two people greeting each other. You could sense it’s nearness when you were in a group of people who all believed what you believed. It was as if you and them were magnets, pulling each other together to create that inevitable spark.
All you needed to do was turn to the first person you saw and acknowledge their presence and there it would be – the spark. Instant energy. Instant connection. Total presence and a sense of definitely not being alone in the world.
It was powerful, to say the least, if not life-changing in a way words could never suffice.
Environment As A Catalyst For Action
My friend, Scott Dinsmore, always says if you want to do something, especially something that seems impossible, surround yourself with people who are already doing it. These people look at your impossible and call it their normal. It’s not long before it becomes your new normal as well.
Little did I know that you don’t have to surround yourself with these people day and night (although that would be ideal). Even a weekend with these people in high concentration, like at an event like World Domination Summit, is enough to spark inside of you the idea of your impossible as maybe being not so impossible after all.
Everywhere you look there’s someone doing something incredible. I feel pretty incredibly on a daily basis, but being around them makes me realize that I’m a tiny fish in a huge ocean of awesomeness.
I look at them and think about what I haven’t been doing because it seemed impossible, too hard, or just out of reach. They have no more advantages than I have. They don’t have any extra resources or exclusive access to miracles. They just do it because – well, how can they not?
By the end of the weekend everyone, including myself, was so inspired by what was happening around us that we started to think bigger. We naturally began to expand what was possible in our mind. It wasn’t conscious. It was effortless; as if it had been that way all along.
Now that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still scare the socks off of us. On the right you’ll find a picture of a woman I admire very much. Her name is Naz, and six months ago Scott and I asked her to publish a video testimonial for his Connect With Anyone course. It was completely out of her comfort zone.
In this picture, Naz is speaking in front of more than 2,000 people at the World Domination Summit. She didn’t know she would be doing this until a few hours before when she was told she was one of three contestants in a contest for a free ticket to WDS 2014. She had to write a poem that the audience would judge.
Not only did she get up in front of thousands of people, she got up and exposed her heart and soul to the crowd when, through the poem, she said she would give her ticket to Mercedes, a former client of mine and possible the most fantastic person I’ve ever met.
Mercedes is from Venezuela and might not be able to stay in the United States for much longer if she doesn’t get sponsorship. If there’s anyone in the world who deserves to stay in the states and contribute their supreme value to the world, it’s her.
Naz got on stage and let them know that a bright star was about to be snuffed out and she couldn’t just sit there and let such an injustice occur when she could expose Mercedes’ story and maybe put her in touch with the people who could help her stay here and shine her light.
If you could do one thing right now that would have the largest impact on your future and success, it would be to put yourself in the environment with people who inspire you; an environment where people do the things you want to do – the things you find impossible.
It was only when Naz got up to recite a poem that brought me to sobbing tears that I really felt the power of Scott’s words.
I saw the truth of them unfolding before my eyes and inside of myself.
Friendships Are Food For The Spirit
I had the most amazing food escapades in Portland while at WDS. Leo Babauta hosted a series of small meetups lead by the wonderful Portland native, Ami, where we could all sample vegan food while attending the conference. I couldn’t have been more thrilled since I’m a new vegan myself and I was nervous about my diet while traveling.
Well, not only was my body fed the most delicious food I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming, but my spirit was fed by the most fantastic company that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
I left every meal so full and fulfilled and nourished in every way. How could I have gone so long without sustenance for my soul?
I could have stayed for hours on end talking to each person at the table. Everything that came out of their mouth was fascinating to me. I never got tired or bored. That’s a testament to the caliber of people that attend WDS and who people like Leo & Eva, Marc & Angel, Jesse & Josh, Ami, Pablo and Joshua surround themselves with.
I also met four women that inspire me to become a better blogger and person.
Polina, Jo, Kate, and Iris are members of the same mastermind group. They are one of the first groups I ever put together for the Live Your Legend and Connect With Anyone community, and they’re still together after all these months. Not only are they members of the same mastermind group, but they’ve also grown to be true friends and pillars of support for each other.
It was gratifying, to say the least, to see this group of women together and to hear how far they’ve brought each other in life and in their businesses. They all traveled hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of miles to meet at the same event – the World Domination Summit.
The synergy of their group keeps their businesses in top notch shape and their spirits in contentment knowing that they have an abundance of support and love from people who care about them.
Do you have a group of people who won’t let you fail? A group of people who feed your spirit? A group that lights a fire inside of you every time you talk to them? If not, what would you do if you did? How would your life change?
A Life On Your Terms Is Better When It’s Shared
I am, always have been, and always will be, the ultimate advocate for the individual. I believe the smallest minority in the world is the individual and their rights should be protected fiercely.
However, it’s only recently that I find myself realizing how much better an individual’s life is when shared with other individuals.
I used to think that meant you needed someone else to survive, but that’s not case at all. You don’t need them, you want them because they enrich your experience here on earth.
The picture on the right is a candid shot by a WDS volunteer. Although my smile is cheesy, it captures a moment in time where the people in that photo were enriching that particular moment in my life. They were doing such a good job of it that it left my smiling like an idiot.
It was the thousands of moments like this one here on the right when I met Scott for the first time in person (photography by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits…he shouldn’t quit his day job).
It was every hug, squeeze of the hand, smile, and kiss that I experienced during my weekend in Portland.
In the end, it all comes down to one simple thing: a sense of community. I believe from the bottom of my heart that everyone has a fundamental need to feel understood and accepted. Too many people project a superficial version of themselves to earn this acceptance.
At a place like WDS, you can expose your soul and be certain that no matter the imperfections, regardless of any weirdness, in spite of your insecurity, you will be accepted and, best of all, you will be hugged.
So if you want to take over the world with your awesomeness, then touch someone’s soul. And the best way to touch someone’s soul is to touch their skin if at all possible. Look into their eyes where their soul resides and silently affirm that you’ll be there for them and with them wherever their journey takes them.
Photos 1, 3, and 4 courtesy of Armosa Studios.