The “What Ifs” I’m asking you to consider in this third and final part of the series were mostly inspired by my trip to Portland for the 2012 World Domination Summit (aka WDS2012), which was definitely up there as one of the most life-changing events of 2012 for me.
Whilst I went there expecting to maybe get a few tips about running a freelance business, I got something entirely unexpected instead; a whole new way of looking at the world.
What if.. “no-one else belongs here more than you”?
That was one of my favourite quotes from Brene Brown’s talk at WDS2012 in Portland, Oregon.
It’s a good reminder that you are just as worthy as anyone on this planet, or in any particular, unfamiliar, out-of-your-comfort-zone place you should find yourself. It was such a welcoming, empowering message to hear when I was away in a strange city on my own for the first time in years.
Ultimately though, and mostly because of the people I met there, Portland felt like a home from home.
Not only was it gloriously sunny the entire time I was there, not only did I get to enjoy healthy food, karaoke, the 4th of July celebrations with new friends, a blues festival, and bonding with beautiful people in the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, but I also got to explore the city. I particularly loved Powell’s Bookstore which is so big you need a map (or smartphone app) to get around it, and which has a cafe that’s open until 11pm and sells liquorice tea (my favourite).
Here are some of the photos I took during my time there:
And please also check out the stunning photos from my WDS friend ‘Olasis’ who is one of several very talented photographers I met there.
Another favourite of the WDS community is Gregory Berg’s Radio Enso. He’s interviewed quite a few of the speakers at WDS as well as many other interesting folk and it’s well worth a listen.
What if.. someone told you they believe in you?
Chris Guillebeau gave everyone at WDS2012 $100 to invest how we saw fit. It felt like an extremely generous and meaningful gift but one which came with a fair amount of responsibility. In my case, I couldn’t decide on one thing, so I ended up investing in quite a few different things, including myself!
It’s hard to explain what this gift meant.. a lot of people said that they felt that the real gift was that they got the message that someone believed in them.
Here are a couple of great projects started by other WDS attendees using their $100:
What if.. you told someone you believed in them?
If it wasn’t for the support of my primary school teacher Mrs Bliss, I might never have believed in myself as a writer. I might never have come back to it after a long hiatus during college.
Not enough creative people get this kind of support, and frankly, we deserve better. I now see it as part of my mission in life to support creative people in their endeavours at the same time that I work towards becoming a creative professional myself.
I’ve done it in the past through writing for local magazines about music, film and books, and of course more recently through this blog. I also buy records from local musicians when I can, and support people online who are doing good things.
Kickstarter and other fundraising sites are a great way to support other people’s creative endeavours, and I helped to fund quite a few projects this year from people I admire. 2012 was also the year that Kickstarter finally allowed people from the UK to get involved.
One project I was keen to support with my $100 was this one which Chris Guillebeau tweeted about which aims to create portable solar power:
What if.. you believed in yourself?
But I also invested $100 in myself and booked a session with confidence coach Steve Errey, who I met on one of my last days in Portland. After speaking to him for an hour I had the insight that I not only had a lot to compassion to offer other people, but that I also needed to treat myself with some. This has made a big difference already in my approach to how I treat myself on a daily basis and the way in which I’m going forward.
What if… you used your knowledge or skills to help others?
After I got back from Portland I volunteered at a couple of social media workshops organised by the North Edinburgh News, and also helped the organisers film a couple of videos to promote the sessions. This was really rewarding, especially when I was able to help people to publish their first blog post or understand how to make simple videos for the web. Was it entirely unselfish of me? No – because one of the side effects was that it also helped me boost my own confidence – plus it was really good fun. So much so, that I’ve now volunteered to help out at the Edinburgh Social Media Surgeries which return later this month.
What if.. you honoured your heart’s desires instead of chasing meaningless goals?
I attended a talk by Danielle La Porte at WDS2012 which was very inspiring. I was very impressed by her calm but confident poise and the intensity with which she shared her wisdom and experience.
Although her book The Firestarter Sessions had just come out, at the time she hinted that she had a new project in the works, which turned out to be the book and multimedia extravaganza that is The Desire Map. She suggests that we set goals without fully understanding why – in fact, what we are seeking is how those goals will make us feel, rather than the goal itself.
In a recent video, Danielle says “your feelings are like road signs – they always point back to your soul”.
Get the Desire Map here (this is an affiliate link which means you will be supporting the Clear-Minded Creative if you make a purchase).
What if.. it’s ok to be the quiet one?
One of the best books I read last year was Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts (yes, she also talked at WDS, in conversation with Jonathan Fields). Now that I’m a teetotaller (temporarily, at least), I’ve realised that drinking has long been a way for me to become more extroverted and dealing with big social occasions, although it could be said it often took me too far the other way!
Being sober, I’m coming to terms more and more with being an introvert – someone who needs alone time to recharge – instead of feeling bad, or conflicted about it. Of course the book explores the concept much more deeply, and is well worth reading for both introverts and extroverts. It ultimately made me feel much more accepting of my natural inclination to be “the quiet one” and to see that the world needs introverts (who tend to be more creative) and extroverts equally.
You can find out more about the book by watching Susan’s TED Talk below:
Phew. I think that’s enough “what ifs” for one week. I hope these have provoked a few new possibilities for you. Do you have any suggestions to add, life-changing experiences, or thought-provoking books to recommend? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.