7 Lessons for World Domination

14637141365_b6daa1c36d_zLast Friday, I broke a world record.

Well, it wasn’t just me. I had the help of 808 people. We gathered in Portland’s Pioneer Square for an event called The Great Namaste. We wanted to break the world record for the longest yoga chain, like people doing the wave at a baseball game. We were trying to break the current record that was held by 696 people in India.

Why in the world would we do something like that?

We all loved yoga, but it was about much more than that. It was about doing something remarkable and doing it as a community.

Community is one of the core values of the World Domination Summit, which is held in Portland every summer, Community, Service, and Adventure. Every attendee and speaker uses community, service, and adventure to do something remarkable with their lives. Together we learned a few things about dominating the world:

1. We are all cousins. – A.J. Jacobs The Global Family Reunion. Jacobs (author of My Year of Living Biblically) talked about his new project, which will help us get to know each other better. After being contacted by a complete stranger who turned out to be a distant cousin of Jacobs, he learned that all humans are more closely related than we imagined. His next project is to create a family tree of the entire human race and organize a Global Family Reunion in which every human on the planet is invited.

Jacobs explained how everyone is 50th cousins or less. 50th! That seems like a lot but also not that much when you think about people in India, Zimbabwe, Syria, Mongolia, and Nepal being somehow related to you. It is Jacobs’ hope – and mine – that this project will create a kinder, gentler world. Whatever group you happen to hate, just remember – you’re probably cousins.

2. Take imperfect action. – Jadah Sellner, Simple Green Smoothies. Before her smoothie website, Jadah was always trying out business ideas, many of them unsuccessful. And even now, she’s still scared whenever she starts a new project. The only way she launched a successful smoothie website is by taking a whole lot of imperfect action.

I’m often paralyzed by the fear of imperfect action, agonizing over my writing to make it just right before putting it out there in the world. But it has caused me to miss out. I’ve missed out on making colossal mistakes and the wisdom that comes from learning from them. I’m ready, now, to throw stuff out there and see what sticks.

photo 23. Voice has power. – Shannon Gaplin, Activist. Shannon focuses her activism on the plight of women in Afghanistan, where the courts count women as 2/3 of a man. There, Shannon visited a women’s prison, where 50-80% of inmates are there for morality crimes related to arranged marriages or for being a rape victim, she discovered an outpouring of stories, told faster than the translators could translate. No one had ever cared enough to hear these women’s’ stories before. Herself a rape victim, Shannon realized she had never really used her voice. She now uses her voice through street art.

Each of our voices is precious. We each have something say and a unique way of saying it. It’s such a waste to think about the voices of those women, locked behind prison walls, unheard. We should learn from Shannon’s experience and not be afraid to use our own voices. As Shannon said, don’t let the voice get chased from your throat. Scream it, even if you’re the only one it will hear.

4. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. It’s making a difference. – John Francis, Environmentalist. If someone had told John Francis that he had to shut up and start walking, he would have thought they were high on something. John’s perspective changed in 1971 when he witnessed an oil spill near San Francisco. It inspired him to walk the roads of America and take a vow of silence. He never could have known the path he was going to take, but his actions made a difference.

I’ll admit I often struggle with this one. It feels like every step I take is filled with doubt and uncertainty. What if I’m making a HUGE mistake? What on earth was I thinking, starting my own business? Who do I think I am? But really just doing it inspires others. Even if you’re still busting your ass to be a whopping success, you are still inspiring others just by doing it. You’re showing them what’s possible. And who knows where that road will take you?

5. Find step one…and then keep going. – Elise Blaha Cripe, DIY craft blogger. Elise started a craft and DIY blog, but she was by no means an expert at it. When she faced a challenge, she posted pictures of dying plants on Instragram and asked followers what she was doing wrong. She learned from those mistakes and kept going.

You just DO. You failed? No big deal. You learn from it. Another lesson to help me move past the paralyzing fear of imperfect action. Elise taught me to break it down into smaller steps to make the greater project a little less daunting. It’s hard to fear failure if all you’re doing is taking tiny, incremental steps.

6. Hard work is boring and uncertain. – Scott Berkun, Writer. Scott showed us a clip from a film, Le Mystere Picasso. The documentary basically just follows the great painter in his studio and shows him drawing some lines on a canvas. It’s not at all what we imagine when we think of one of the greatest painters of the 20th century doing his work, but that’s because hard work is boring.

We sit down at our desk, and we write for a while, and maybe it’s going okay at first, but then after a while it gets hard. It starts to feel like work. And then you think there are 6 more secrets that you’re missing, so you look for an article or something expecting it to tell you what you need to know when all you really need to do is do the work. You need to just do it anyway. Only you can listen to your voice.

14634411116_4ea411cfff_m7. You are a superhero. – Dee Williams, owner of Portland Alternative Dwellings. Dee talked about how she always wanted a superhero ad to appear, because she believes that within all of us lies a superhero. We want to tackle big issues, but we don’t, because we are afraid to follow what’s in our own hearts. So Dee showed us the cape she wears to awaken the superhero inside of her.

We can be superheros just by following what’s in our hearts. The solution isn’t some obscure idea waiting out there waiting for us. It’s inside of us. We carry it around, and sometimes it even guides us without us knowing it. So what are we afraid of? I’ve long believed that courage is doing that which you are most afraid of. So have courage, and give voice to what’s inside you’re heart.

I walked away feeling grateful to all the speakers for sharing their stories.

It’s not easy acknowledging all your nasty fears and horrendous mistakes to an auditorium of thousands of people. But hearing their stories gave me the courage to embrace my imperfect actions, to buckle down and work hard, and to share my glorious voice. It’s my hope that as put these ideas into action that they will inspire my readers as well.