“How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”
This was the question posed to me and 3,000+ attendees at the World Domination Summit (WDS) last weekend in Portland, Oregon. The event brought together a wily group of entrepreneurs, bloggers, and big thinkers to mingle, listen to amazing speakers, and unpack what it takes to live a remarkable life.
It was a lot to soak in, but a big theme of the conference was to avoid getting unnecessarily distracted by consuming and contemplating, and simply begin taking action. So rather than spend time summarizing everything I learned, I’ll share with you my three most compelling lessons from the weekend.
Lesson #1: Design Your Life
“How are you doing with what you’ve been given?” – Michael Hyatt
One of my greatest fears is living life by default.
There’s a constant nagging in the back of my mind that I’m just going along for the ride, and not really making deliberate choices to advance my life forward. Even though I’m more conscious about living life on purpose than most, it’s still easy to succumb to inertia and the day-to-day grind. After all, I have a good job, live comfortably enough, and am finally regaining my health.
Sometimes I think that should be enough. So why push for more?
Well, if you’re anything like me, you know what it’s like to feel there’s more you can give to the world. I simply feel there’s more potential in me than I’m currently allowing myself to express.
Michael Hyatt’s WDS speech on living a designed life tackled this feeling head on. He advocated strongly for breaking free from living a life by default, providing three simple questions to use as a guide towards more meaningful living.
To begin living a designed life, Michael suggests you ask yourself:
1) How do I want to be remembered?
It’s easy to think time is an infinite resource, and we procrastinate making important decisions as a result. We believe there will be endless opportunities to take action, make decisions, and have an impact, but in reality our time is limited. Knowing this, we should think hard about the legacy we’re leaving behind.
As Hyatt said, “We have the potential to become architects of the way others will remember us when we’re gone.” That’s powerful and empowering stuff.
2) What is important to me?
We’re told as children we can achieve anything we want in life. That may be true, but since our time is limited we can’t do everything we want. To determine which ideas and dreams to pursue, Hyatt recommends taking out a piece of paper and writing down the categories that are important to you in your life (ex: family, personal health, work, etc.). Then rank them in order of importance. You now have a guide for how to make big decisions in your life, as well as a short list of priorities to guide your daily decision making.
Don’t let the urgent get in the way of the important; keep your list of priorities handy, and hold yourself accountable for maintaining proper perspective.
3) What single brave decision do I need to make today?
As Hyatt wisely put it, “Everything important happens outside your comfort zone.” Don’t get paralyzed by planning and analysis. Take one brave action right now that will inch you closer to the life you want to live.
Make decisions, act bravely, and let the chips fall where they may.
Lesson #2: Be Bold
“Jump, and a net will appear” – Safi Mafundikwa
Sometimes we feel like we have to have things all figured out before we take any action. At WDS, Gavin Aung Thang taught us this isn’t the case.
Aung Thang is the founder of Zen Pencils, a website that publishes comic strips depicting famous quotes. He came up with the idea in 2011 while working a graphic design job he hated, and decided to quit his job cold turkey to pursue his dream. Not only was this a bold move (he might even call it dumb), it forced him to dive right in to make Zen Pencils a reality.
And while it’s important to take bold action, check out what Gavin has to say on his blog about his journey prior to Zen pencils:
“Before Zen Pencils, I had been making regular comics for at least five years. I was lucky enough to get a comic strip published in a local paper which required me to do one comic a week, every week of the year, for five years. Around 3 years ago, I got another comic published in a different paper. So for the last 3 years I was making two different comics a week. That’s roughly (52 x 5 = 260) + (52 x 3 = 156) 416 comics in the last five years on top of working my regular job BEFORE I had even thought of Zen Pencils. And I would say at least 200 of those comics are terrible and I would be embarrassed to show them to you. Before those newspaper comics, I did a lot of illustration projects in university, high-school and have been constantly drawing since I was a toddler.”
So although Gavin might not recommend quitting your job immediately to pursue your passion, his story is a great example of taking a bold step towards the life you want to lead.
If this all seems a little too high-level and philosophical, a few questions posed by Gary Hirsch of Bot Joy might just help you out:
- What are your fears?
- What’s one brave thing you’ve done?
- What’s one brave thing you want to do…but haven’t?
Accepting Gary’s One Brave Thing challenge, I committed to inviting 5 neighbors I don’t know to dinner by the end of July. This will be scary as hell, but it’s a brave action that aligns with my values of community and sharing good food with the people around me.
My takeaway from Gavin and Gary: Find something you’re good at, start putting in the work, and take bold action. Today.
Lesson #3: Treat Everyone Like They’re Your Cousin
Whether you know it or not, there’s a good chance you’re cousins with Warren Buffet.
And Bill Clinton.
And yes, Kevin Bacon.
According to A.J. Jacobs, we’re all related; and by fewer connections than you might think.
Through a demo of the latest in family tree technology A.J. showed us exactly how he’s related to Gwyneth Paltrow, Albert Einstein, and Barack Obama. His point was to show us that we’re really all part of a big, seven billion member family tree.
That’s pretty hard to grasp in a tangible way. What made this insight powerful for me was to translate the idea that we’re all one big family into practical behavior. How would we interact with one another if we knew we were all related?
Fortunately for me, the answer was played out live throughout my weekend at WDS. I saw what happens when a large group of strangers acts like members of the same family. I’ve never experienced more genuine eye contact, friendly smiles, and hugging embraces from people I had never met. There was a unique desire to get to know one another, help each other out, and bond over dreams and big ideas.
It’s amazing what happens when all pretense and insecurities are left behind, and everyone meets at the same level. I saw bonds form, connections made, and lives changing before my eyes, all because of the willingness to look someone else in the eye, smile, and ask, “How can I help?”
World domination isn’t about hoarding power. It’s about being kind to others, and helping people out when you have the chance. It’s about creating a better world together than we ever could on our own.
And it starts with treating everyone around you like they’re your cousin.
So what do you think? Ready to start dominating the world?
To recap, here are three things you can start doing TODAY to create the life you want to live:
1) Design Your Life
2) Be Bold
3) Treat Everyone Like They’re Your Cousin
Simple enough, right?
Not easy, but simple. There’s no reason everyone can’t apply these lessons to their lives in some way.
I’ve stepped up to the challenge of integrating these lessons into my life. I challenge you to do the same.
Who knows? You might just end up dominating the world.