What one weekend of Blissdom taught me about living life everyday.
Instead of the usual blog conference summary, where I post of bunch of pictures of fun things you weren’t doing with me last weekend, I thought I’d try to bring back something we can all use. Like lessons learned and values affirmed over the course of three incredible days immersed in the extraordinary community of Blissdom. These are some of them:
- Demand kindness. At blog conferences, like most large gatherings, there is always a lot of nervous energy. It crackles and pops like static electricity coming up from the carpets, looking for somewhere to leap next. It comes out as sarcasm, drama, gossip, and other expressions of insecurity that pass between people, zapping them both unexpectedly. It’s an inevitable byproduct of bringing that many egos together. Or so I believed until I went to Blissdom, where kindness is demanded, explicitly and repeatedly. It’s demanded in the conference literature, in the welcoming speeches, and in the tone set by the staff and volunteers. I would say it teeters overboard, except that it works. Maybe people bristle a bit at being told how to act, but inner childishness responds to loving firmness just like real kids do. Those brats settled down, and our grown up selves got on with our business and pleasure. It was a powerful display of leadership, and it made me resolve to be more of a standard-bearer for kindness in all my interactions. And in case it all sounds a bit too syrupy and bland, know that I don’t mean “nice” when I say “kind.” People can disagree and even dislike each other in kindness, and nice can strike like a snake.
- Make a gift of your presence. Every morning I woke up at the conference, my self-consciousness was waiting for me with a clipboard and an agenda. I made a practice of ditching it before I left the room, asking not how the day was supposed to serve me, but how I might serve. It’s an internal posture check that makes all the difference in how I perceive others and what I project. It also left the door open to some wonderful encounters not on my ego’s agenda. I do a lot of people watching at these events, and I’ve observed that the most charming, charismatic, “it” people are the ones whose focus is trained outward. If you could see thought bubbles above the heads of everyone in a crowd, you’d see most people asking What do I need to get out of this? and a few people asking What can I bring to this? Those few are the magnetic ones. That’s presence. It’s something I’d like to cultivate.
- Be natural. The best speakers I heard at the conference weren’t the most polished. They weren’t the ones with the best Power Point slides or the most dynamic hand gestures. Sometimes they were nervous or flustered. But they spoke from the heart. They had personal experience and they had conviction. And they were themselves. There’s nothing more effective. Preparation is important. But passion trumps polish every time.
I’ll probably have more thoughts to share with you as I continue to unpack my heart and mind.
But I’m keeping all the swag.