(Photos via Instagrammers: @jwgreenlighting, @rachrodgersesq, @skooloflife, @randikayolsen, and @veglatina)
Nearly a year ago to the day, I wrote a blog post after attending the first Misfit Conference (Misfit Con) titled: After An Amazing Weekend at Misfit Con, I Feel Lost… If you’ve read that post you know that I was trying to find my way (and my passion) after a very inspirational event in Fargo, ND.
What I neglected to say in that post was how scared I was. Scared to actually ask for help. Scared to make changes in my life. Scared to admit that my business was no longer something I woke up every morning with a burning passion to work on and grow. I wrote a line in that post that said “I want to ask for help from my peers (I’m looking at you Pam Slim)” and I fully intended to reach out Pam. But I was terrified to talk to her and share my feelings, doubts, and fears. So scared in fact that it took me 8 months to muster the courage to email her and eventually chat on Skype. But even though it took me more than half a year to finally reach out, I did it. That call along with many personal blog posts, meetings with friends, and intentional changes to my habits and goals, made a profound difference on who I am as a person. I can honestly say that Misfit Con in 2013 absolutely changed my life.
Here I am a few days removed from this year’s Misfit Con and I have a completely different feeling and outlook. Before I get to that, I want to give you a glimpse of what this “conference” was like. The venue was a beautiful art gallery, decorated by hand with amazing details. The 160 eclectic chairs to sit in were sourced from people and places around the wonderful city of Fargo. The food was the furthest thing from standard conference fare (food options were vegan, gluten-free, dolphin safe, organic, and we ate the best marshmallows I’ve ever crammed in my face). The brilliant speakers who are changing the world, shared emotional stories of failure, loss, and success. There was a passionate spoken word poet whose words rocked me to my core. There was not one, but two hip hop artists whose talent poured out in their words and rhymes. There were so many talented people doing and saying amazing things. And after I gave the most vulnerable talk I’ve ever given, I was met with open arms and words of encouragement and excitement.
(A small handful of photos to show off the attention to detail and love that go into Misfit Con. Photos via Instagrammers: @artistnicholerae, @ajleon, @randikayolsen, @melissacrnic, @ryannicodemus, @jackiness, and @misfitchairs)
After this year’s Misfit Con I feel so unbelievably inspired. Hearing the stories of my fellow misfits who have grown leaps and bounds (as I have) since last year. Listening to people tell me how they’ve started new projects. Listening to a wonderful Aussie named Israel who is embarking on an amazing journey with his family. Listening to Victor Saad give us an update on The Experience Institute, a project that was nothing more than an idea a year ago and now has students, a curriculum, and the backing of Stanford and Leo Burnett. Just listening to various stories like these from every attendee. Every single person is doing something to reach their goals and dreams and that has me so fired up and excited. I wish I could list the accomplishments of every person, but that would end up being the length of a book.
Oh, and speaking of books, Misfit Con was the very first event to have my book Creativity For Sale on display. Without even planning it, or realizing it until Saturday, my book release and my 4-year anniversary with my girlfriend Caroline all aligned with Misfit Con. I’m sure my friend and fellow Misfit Con attendee Julia Roy would tell me that some weird part of my brain subconsciously made those decisions for me. I can’t begin to thank AJ and Melissa enough for agreeing to buy a bulk order of my books and showcase them. I will forever be grateful for that gesture.
There are two big takeaways for me this year and some of them are things I’ve been telling myself constantly and consistently since last year:
#1 Change is incredibly hard, but it can lead to amazing things
Whether you’re minimal-izing your life, moving to a new place, starting a new career, trying meditation, admitting you need help, whatever the thing is you want to change you need to start small and be intentional about it. It will be uncomfortable, but it will be worth it.
#2 Give yourself permission to do the things you want to do
We all have ideas, goals, and dreams, but most often we are the ones limiting ourselves from making those things happen. It’s not money, timing, or any other factor, it’s giving ourselves the permission to just get started.
I haven’t been able to accomplish what I’ve accomplished in the past year because of luck or good timing. I’ve intentionally changed things in my life and “sat in the chair” as Joshua Fields Millburn says. It hasn’t been easy for me and it probably won’t be easy for you. The key is to make a commitment to yourself and to not do it alone. As proud of a person as I am, the best thing I ever did in the past year was to start asking for help and be open to change.
To my fellow misfits reading this, lean on your peers for help. Feel free to reach out to me. No one is going to ridicule you for asking for help (and if by some insane chance they do, immediately remove that person from your life). Set big goals for yourself and don’t be afraid if you don’t achieve them. Embrace the journey and learn from it.
I’m already excited for Misfit Con in 2015, it can’t come soon enough.