World Domination Summit 2013: Accidental Discoveries

The greatest thing that I learned from World Domination Summit 2013 was entirely by accident.

During WDS 2013, the afternoon sessions were first-come, first serve. I wanted to go to “How to Build Confidence and Destroy Fear” on Saturday, because those two aspects of me definitely have room for improvement. However, in a combination of tiredness and food coma (damn those food carts!) I ended up in Danielle Laporte’s “Desire and Fire” session–same building, different room. I sat inside a large church in a mostly female audience, and as she repeated someone’s question–“When is it time to dump that chump?” I realized that yes, I was in the wrong session. Many of Danielle’s comments were from the right-brained emotional side of the spectrum, concepts like initiative, enthusiasm, and trust. Do what feels right and makes you feel free. Feel feel feel feel feel feel. Get the picture?

The engineering-oriented, Computer Science graduate part of me thought, “Maybe it isn’t too late to catch the right session? I could bounce out the door and change rooms in 4 minutes 30 seconds.” But I realized that lots of people wanted to watch her speak, but couldn’t get in because the room was full, so I decided to stay thinking I’d be mobbed by a crowd outside. Towards the end, Danielle mentioned a comment:

“The shadow side of self-improvement is the premise that something is wrong with you”

At that exact moment, the wheels inside my head started spinning, and I started questioning my reason for being at WDS 2013 in the first place. What is broken inside me? Why am I here? How did I get involved with this self-improvement and personal development stuff in the first place? Am I a conference junkie?

Circa 2006 I first hopped about the self-improvement train by reading a blogger named Steve Pavlina. I felt I was surrounded by uninspiring, hopeless, people whose primary purpose was to sleep, work, and watch TV with no further goals or inspirations. Work, sleep, die. Lather, rinse, repeat. There HAD to be something more in my life than falling into this trap that the world appeared to be pushing me towards. After pacing the room back and forth for nearly 2 hours I decided to take a huge leap (at the time) and travel to Las Vegas by myself to attend his “Conscious Growth Workshop” which was phenomenal, and I attended 2 similar workshops in the following years. When Steve stopped hosting workshops, I decided to attend WDS 2012–which had the added benefit in being in a fun, interesting city like Portland (as opposed to Las Vegas whose artificiality has never resonated with me.)

Over the years I’ve connected with some very cool people, learned various tips and techniques to measure my personal growth, and even exercised the right-side of my brain by exploring concepts such as subjective reality and claircognizance¬†(when you intuitively “know” something without rational proof.) My notes are full of the “what to do” stuff, it’s a question of me applying it more consistently and pushing through my fears–instead of hiding behind my knowledge and not actually applying it.

I’ve also realized that it’s not me who has the problem (nor others seeking self-improvement), it’s the rest of society that settles for the boring, uninspired life–when they know they’re capable of doing so much more. It’s easy to fall into the trap: your parents, your teachers, your employers, and your political leaders all shuffle you towards a path which is meant to please themselves instead of pleasing yourself. And somewhere along the line you lose yourself in the process. It’s time to find yourself again.

Conferences like the World Domination Summit are wonderful places to connect with like-minded people seeking a life beyond the ordinary. With a theme like “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”, these events tend to self-select for inspiring, successful people (or aspiring inspiring people :)) And when awesome people with a similar purpose get together, more awesomeness happens. But personally, having been exposed to this kind of atmosphere many times before, I’m looking for something different now. I don’t want to merely absorb and learn, I want to contribute and lead.

If I choose to go to WDS 2014, or any other seminar, it won’t be as someone who is “looking for inspiration to feel complete.” It’ll be as someone who has “made it” (by my standards), and wants to inspire others to push towards their own dreams. Until then, I can’t come back–I have all the tools I need within myself, I just need to utilize them. And I would be selling myself short if I went for another round of Kool-Aid without bringing extra sugar for everybody.