When Absolutely Freakin’ Amazing Becomes Normal

July 8, 2013 · 31 comments

When you return home from an event like the World Domination Summit, you feel full.

Full of ideas. Full of inspiration. Full of optimism. And full of bits and pieces you want to digest and cobble together and most importantly, act on while they all still make sense inside your cluttered head.

Let’s hit pause for a second, so I can answer the question you probably wish you could ask: WHAT THE HECK IS THE WORLD DOMINATION SUMMIT?

Image: World Domination Summit

Founder Chris Guillebeau welcomes us to the World Domination Summit.

Different people would answer this in different ways, but here’s what WDS is to me: a get-together for people who want to live remarkable lives. A place for digital entrepreneurs and dreamers and creative go-getters to inspire one another. A chance to be surrounded by people who actually get what I do for a living.

The event is motivating and moving and even slightly cult-ish. It’s the one time each year when I get to interact face to face with my online community.

Yet while learning and connecting and experiencing ah-ha moments that will forever affect my business and my life makes for a pretty awesome weekend, something felt different for me at WDS this year.

This feeling was one I didn’t see coming, considering how overwhelmed I was with ideas and emotion at the 2012 event. (Here are my takeaways from that conference.) Last year, the whole experience felt surreal. It felt crazy and strange and empowering to be surrounded by people who don’t see working for yourself as riskier than a traditional job or backpacking through Africa solo as a crazy pursuit — because they’re following their unique dreams, too.

This year, though, being part of this community that revels in unconventional awesomeness… felt normal.

When your reality shifts

That’s right: the alternative universe of WDS felt normal. At first I thought that was because this was my second year attending the summit, and like many life experiences, it simply didn’t have the same bang the second time around.

Except the summit did still feel amazing, just in a different way. Which made me realize the real reason it felt different wasn’t the summit itself — it was me.

Now that I’ve been working for myself for nearly two years, I interact on a daily basis with people who are creating alternative careers, building interesting online businesses and living remarkable lives. It’s still pretty darn cool to be dancing Gangnam style with 3,000 of those people, but it no longer feels like a huge departure from what I do every day.

By surrounding myself with go-getters, I have shifted my own reality. And because of that, my normal has changed.

It feels normal to create my own priorities. It feels normal to do work I enjoy on my own terms. It feels normal to earn a significant pay raise every year, rather than hoping my boss approves 5 percent at my annual review. It feels normal to dream, and then actually act on those dreams.

That doesn’t mean I appreciate those opportunities any less; I practice gratitude regularly, even more than I did years ago. But once things feel normal, you begin to act differently, too. You push the boundaries more. You go bigger. You realize even more is possible, and you set your sights on new, bigger goals.

So how do you change your normal?

That’s the big question, right? How do you go about shifting your own reality? In three ways:

1. By surrounding yourself with other people who are doing awesome things

If you’re the outlier, the only person you know bucking the status quo, it will be that much more difficult to get where you want to be. You will feel like you’re swimming against the tide.

But when you’ve got other swimmers alongside you, you will feel supported. That community is a huge part of changing your normal. To help you grow that community, here’s some solid advice from Scott Dinsmore about how to surround yourself with passionate people.

2. By sharing your dreams with others

Darren Rowse of Problogger touched on this during his WDS talk, and it’s spot-on: sharing your dreams with others both holds you accountable and helps you move toward them faster.

When you tell others about your dreams — whether that’s in person or online — you turn them from abstract ideas into concrete goals. You bring your dreams to life. And once you bring your dreams to life, once you share them with others, you’ll be much more likely to take actual steps toward making them happen.

3. By choosing something

Too many of us wait until we know exactly what we want to do to take that first step. But the truth is, purpose won’t find you until you get started. And you know what? Chances are, even if you were able to pick that perfect goal and perfect route to get there, your destination would likely change along the way.

That’s why I loved the lyrics from Clare Bowditch’s song, Amazing Life, which she performed this weekend. Like many of the people in that audience, I teared up when she sang it on stage, not just because it was so beautiful, but because the lyrics reflected why each of us had made the effort to be in that concert hall in Portland. We’re all looking for an amazing life. We might define amazing differently, but it’s still something we all want. To get there, we have to choose priorities, and we have to get started.

“You don’t have to be just one thing,” Clare sang, “but you have to start with something.”

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeffrey Trull July 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Wow, I think you really nailed a lot of what I felt in my second year of WDS, too. It’s an awesomely strange feeling to be surrounded by amazing/unconventional people and for it to feel “normal.”

Here’s to living an amazing life!

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Alexis Grant July 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Great to meet you in person, Jeffrey!
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Matt Cheuvront July 8, 2013 at 7:17 pm

“By surrounding myself with go-getters, I have shifted my own reality. And because of that, my normal has changed.”

God damn, Alexis. This is absolutely perfect in articulating exactly how I feel. It may sound lame but as I read these few words on the plane back home today, I literally teared up. One of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur is embracing that you ARE an entrepreneur. WDS reminded me that I’m not crazy. That I am living my dream. That I have redefined my reality. It’s a humbling, inspiring feeling that I can’t describe in words. My takeaway from this weekend, being surrounded by so many incredibly self-aware, driven people, was simply embracing where I am, which led me to feeling exponentially more confident about where we’re going.

So good to meet you. Thank you for writing this.

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Alexis Grant July 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Thanks, Matt! I feel it, too. Last year, my greatest takeaway was GO BIGGER — and it sounds like you’re feeling that way, too 🙂

Talk soon!
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NOAEfame July 8, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Hi, I wanted to go too. I feel like I am missing a lot of opportunities. First to the white house in April, now again to children’s conference in London this July 18th 2013 . I am really over it. I can imagine being in that room. One thing that I know is that your heart speaks more than your voice. I have known you for three months now and you are what you said you are. But I promise to be there next year. Initially, I became so overwhelmed with learning, catching up and things like that. I have also realize like you said We’re all looking for an amazing life. “We might define amazing differently, but it’s still something we all want. To get there, we have to choose priorities, and we have to get started. Alexis- I will start my own campaign to see what I can do, I know it is a little bit off the topic but I can say how I feel here. I feel at home here. I am happy to know you.
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sarah July 9, 2013 at 4:42 am

Thank you so much for this, for so long I have lived outside of the box and my dreams are so big they are scoffed at by many. However for me they are my reality, and I am in a time of great shift, last night was a ‘Eureka’ moment, as I realised the only thing preventing me from succeeding is me. If I listen to others fears I will never get there, so this morning I am reaching for the stars and not holding back, thank you for sharing and inspiring xx

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Alexis Grant July 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm

So true! Get out of your own way! 🙂
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Shae Baxter July 9, 2013 at 9:09 am

Wow WDS is definitely on my list. I feel like I missed out. I went to Problogger here in Melbourne last year and I met Chris (and Darren) there. He is so gracious and I bet he was a terrific host at WDS. A friend of mine flew over to WDS this year and she said it was amazing. And Claire Bowditch is terrific. Saw her speak at a TED talk last year and she was inspirational. There’s just something about being surrounded by like minded, entrepreneurial people. GO BIGGER – love it.
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Alexis Grant July 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Oooh, I’ll have to check out that TED talk!
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Jen July 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I so wish I could have been there. It does sound like it was amazing. I have made a huge effort to connect with other people who are doing similar things to me with their businesses. I do think you need to have others in your camp who understand your struggles and are rooting for you to succeed.

I will have to make it to WDS next year!
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Alexis Grant July 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Jen — Love the title of your most recent post… heading over to check it out!
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Justin McClelland July 10, 2013 at 6:14 am

I agree. This was my 2nd WDS as well and it was just as awesome. There is something about being around so many people that strive to live on their own terms. It’s like when you go to WDS, you are bound to meet cool and interesting people by default. And each of them are on their way to achieving great things (or already have). I just wish there was a place to meet such people other than once a year in Portland.
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Alexis Grant July 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Honestly, I think people like that exist everywhere. We pass them on the street, sit next to them on the bus… but we wouldn’t turn around and ask them, “So, what’s your passion project?” like we would at WDS. Maybe something for me to work on! (Plus, you’ve given me an idea for a blog post.)
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Kate E. McCracken July 11, 2013 at 1:22 am

Cheers on changing your normal! That’s such a brave thing to have done. May it continue to shift as you continue to evolve. 🙂
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Kimmy July 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Love this! I found out about WDS the day the last tickets went on sale. Obviously, it wasn’t meant to be for this year, but it’s on for next!
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Mindy Crary July 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm

This was my first year at WDS, but I totally get what you’re saying, and when you aren’t working to surround yourself with other awesome people, you forget how much it boosts you up! Thanks for a great post.
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Caelan Huntress July 16, 2013 at 11:26 am

I think we have this ‘slightly cult-ish’ feeling because WDS is the one place where we can finally FEEL normal.

Where all of our peers are also unconventional, and don’t need an explanation about why (or how) we brandish our inner awesome.

(I finally came out of the closet as a RLSH because it finally felt…safe to be badass.)

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Bo July 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm

This was my first year at WDS and I was blown away. Ditto Matt re: “By surrounding myself with go-getters, I have shifted my own reality. And because of that, my normal has changed.”

It was so freeing to not be the weirdo. To not be the only one who was living life a little differently and taking risks that to us, don’t even appear to be as risky as the status quo.

Awesome post, Alexis…keep up the awesome.
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Victor Björklund July 17, 2013 at 7:33 am

Wow, sounds like WDS was a blast! I regret not going but I have to make sure to go next year and get that inspiration that everyone is talking about!

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Kate July 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

This is a beautiful article, and exactly what I experienced at WDS. This was my first year there, but I felt so at home. Having a conversation with another first time WDS-er, I was asked if it had changed my life. My answer was \”Honestly, not really- it more affirms the life I\’ve created for myself.\” Consciously choosing who to be around, sharing and collaborating on fabulous dreams and projects, connecting with other people who are being remarkable… what once seemed far away is now all in a day\’s work! Or play 😉 Thanks for sharing your experience!

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Amy July 17, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Great post, Alexis. I love your blog and will add you to my sites to follow 🙂

Thanks!
Amy ~ WDS2013 attendee

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Shanna July 23, 2013 at 2:41 am

Fantastic post, Alexis. In fact, it was a commenter (Dana Sitar) on my WDS blog post who suggested that I check out yours. I’m glad I did. This was year 3 for me, and my final year, at WDS. Chris is a dear friend, and he and his team (and the majority of attendees) are amazing people doing interesting and world-changing (some) things. But, as the title of my post suggests, I am definitely not in the WDS Bubble. I hope you can take a moment and check out my post–I’d love to read your thoughts!
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