Stepping out of the safety blanket of the 9-5 to live an extraordinary life isn’t an easy ride no matter how many palm tree fringed beaches you get to see en route. In the last four years I’ve gone from marketer to meditation teacher via a whistlestop tour of the world.
Part of what has kept me sane in an extraordinary burst of change and growth has been surrounding myself with other people who don’t think i’m nuts.
Each year I go to an event called the World Domination Summit (WDS.) It’s a weekend of inspirational TED X style key note speeches plus hands on academies for people leading a remarkable life in a conventional world. It’s been a glimmering bright spot in challenging times and provided me with a crew of friends who I consider amongst my best.
Whilst my journey has been inextricably linked with my spiritual path so much of my own development hasn't been prompted by silent retreat or yoga class but by walking out of the door of the corporate world and into the skin of an entrepreneur.
Bizarrely demographic and pigeon hole free - WDS is not just for entrepreneurs and nor is it just for the spiritually aligned (although I know it has a secret pair of hippy pants in the closet!) However there are some fundamental spiritual truths about how to lead a successful life that were present across so many of the key note speeches this year I thought I would pull them together for you.
Whether you’re heading out the door on your own hero’s journey or busy bootstrapping your first business…I hope that sharing these five little nuggets of soft and gentle truth will help smooth the entrepreneurial path ahead.
1) Finding Stillness
Jonathan Fields kicked off proceedings by asking us to ponder a Richard Wiseman quote “fortune favors the open.” It’s easy to be swept away with reacting; reacting to our highly sensationalistic media, the sense stimuli surrounding us, the guy serving us our coffee, the red blip of a notification on the screen. If we are not careful our ability to choose our response in freedom and openness gets swallowed by reacting out of old fears, mental loops and habits. How do we cultivate openness to what is available in the present moment? Stillness.
Over the days leading up to WDS my meditation practice had gradually shrunk from an hour a day to a brief 10 minute chant. Welcome not so subtle hint from the universe. I’d received a challenge from the Be Kind game (more of that in Point 5) to buy someone behind me in the queue a coffee.
However queuing at Starbucks on the saturday morning I forgot all about the challenge and all about my environment. I didn’t even notice the person standing behind me in line until after they’d paid. Who was it? Yes. You guessed it. Jonathan Fields.
He then went on to open WDS with the first speech of the day. The subject? Our ability to remain present and open to our environment is what allows us to choose our response and how we’re then free to respond with kindness. POINT TAKEN UNIVERSE!
How do we zoom out and get the space and awareness to notice the opportunities surrounding what is - instead of getting lost in the “what was” and “what ifs?” We cultivate stillness. Cue meditation practice swiftly reinserted!
2) We have an unlimited amount of compassion to give.
My favorite Tibetan Buddhist saying ever by someone who doesn’t have a shaved head or surname ending in Rinpoche.
Zach Anner didn’t let growing up with cerebal palsy and being confined to a wheel chair stop him from becoming a World Traveller, Comedian, Actor, Oprah regular and author of the brilliantly titled “If at Birth you Don’t Succeed.” He encouraged us to move beyond defining ourselves by our limitations and remember that when we feel we have nothing to offer we always have an unlimited amount of compassion we can give to the world.
For me, this one line and longstanding truth was a pure shot of sunlight into what can seem like a dark and sometimes scary world.
3) We are limitless
Chelsea Dinsmore lost her husband Scott in an accident on Mount Kilimanjaro.
In the days and weeks after his death it would have been perfectly understandable if she had chosen to retreat from the public gaze and go into hiding to grieve. Absolutely devastated and with no experience of how to run Scott’s business empire and community of 200,000+ followers she chose a different response. A beautiful example of both utilizing our freewill to choose a healthier response in the moment and how to cultivate compassion - Chelsea chose to approach every new experience with “endless curiosity” and positively reframe doubts and fears by asking: What is the best that could happen today? How can I give more? and perhaps most potently of all: What if the hardest thing I’ve had to do is behind me?
In doing so she has successfully taken over the reigns of the Live Your Legend community as Chief Inspiration Officer, Scott’s legacy lives on and they continue to inspire people around the world to find the work they love. Her discovery through the process was simple. No matter what stories our mind tries to tell us. . .
We are limitless.
4) Me Too is empowering.
Emily McDowell , multi millionaire business owner and creator of an empathy greetings card and stationery empire for people in real life relationships talked about the dark spots in her own life first as a cancer survivor and then as supporter to a best friend diagnosed with the disease.
Those times when we’re at our lowest when we most need people to reach out to us is often exactly the time when people just don’t have a clue what to say. Oftentimes it’s not just the curve ball that life’s thrown but the side helping of shame, guilt or fear that comes with our experience that also stops us looking outwards for support from others.
Loneliness, ill health, depression and anxiety weren’t carved out as a special present from the universe just for you - they are a part of the multi coloured rainbow that is the human condition. Keeping ourselves separate and just reading the good news of other people’s aspiration can be exclusionary - sharing our story or being willing to listen to another’s helps us connect. As Mcdowell so succinctly put it:
Me Too is Empowering.
5) Be Kind.
Hugs and high fives are par for the course on this positively joyous and non judgmental weekend of the year and this time it was taken a step further. The overarching theme of the event (not to mention the lynchpin of most major spiritual traditions) is Be Kind. The Be Kind game launched at the opening party and continued throughout the weekend encouraging attendees to perform random acts of kindness on unsuspecting strangers. That coffee that I didn’t buy Jonathan Fields? That was this game (yes there was a subsequent lucky recipient and she was highly surprised and grateful! )
If there was one message that I took from the event it was this. We always have something to give and what we can give is kindness.
Ride that Baby!
Life will happen and the entrepreneurial journey more than most can be a bumpy ride. We will never have control over other people’s reactions to us or the curve balls that life throws but we do have control of remaining centered in the present moment and how we choose to respond. Will we be centered and strong enough not to sway in reactivity; remain open to the opportunities and grace available to us in each and every present moment, cognizant of our potential and our power and use our free will to respond from a place of compassion and kindness? I hope so.
Stillness is a good place to start.
How to Develop a Daily Practice
Meditation helps give us the space and the stillness to witness our reactions and make healthier, wiser choices on how to respond in the moment.
If you’d like to develop a daily meditation practice - one that is easily accessible regardless of personal religion or spiritual belief and aligned to the wisdom contained within our own hearts and feel the “me too” in an empowered global community of women - join my sangha of heart centered female seekers and you’ll receive a free 7 day heart meditation course as a welcome gift to get you going!
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PS: The next latte's on me Jonathan!