There are about a million different ways to begin a journey. You can dream, plan, plot, map. This is integral to the process.

And just like you, my head is filled with dreams, plans, plots and maps. Places I want to go, meals I want to prepare, books I want to write, canvasses I want to adorn, audiences I want to thrill, lives I want to touch and bellies I want to fill.

But there is no step is more crucial to the journey than taking the actual first step. You know: old-school. Foot on the ground. The next one in front of the other. Rinse and repeat.

Earlier this month, I had the good fortune to be in Portland, Oregon attending the World Domination Summit. A heavenly place for a sublime conference. It's the brainchild of Chris Guillebeau who is a well-loved and admired author, explorer and a kind and generous soul.

The purpose of the event is to gather folks with shared values of adventure, community, and service. The "world domination" language speaks to world service: contribution, engagement and influence. The theme centers around this delicious question:

"How do you live a remarkable life in an unconventional world?"

This question was the springboard for the speakers: authors, TED Talk-ers, activists and other Super Stars all doing truly remarkable things. It was also, of course, the genesis of conversation amongst attendees, and before any of us allowed ourselves to compare ourselves to each other and judge ourselves harshly with whether we were doing "enough", Brené Brown offered this in her keynote:

"The opposite of scarcity is not abundance, it is enough."

So, we all self-managed, didn't keep score of what we were (or weren't doing), enjoyed sum-zero judgment, good conversation and tons of inspiration.

Context: 2011 was the WDS's first year with 500 in attendance. In 2012, 1000 attended (5000 were on the waiting list). Incredible, really.

How in the world can I possibly be talking about Chris's massive feat in the context of "small steps" here at The Jungle of Life?

Because the World Domination Summit, like every book, masterpiece, song, project and journey began with an idea first, and then a step.

So here I am, back in my home, time zones and worlds away from the WDS experience, inspired and awed by the stories of feats and successes that I was treated to in Portland and a whisper of a quote haunts me:

"Inspiration without action is called entertainment."

I know I for one didn't travel 2000+ miles away from my family just to be entertained.

It's time for action. It's time to get those dreams, plans, plots and maps out of my head and into my life. And here's what I know:

1) Any step is a step: declare the goal and claim it. The honey lies in between commitment and activation.

2) It won't be perfect. WDS wasn't perfect and moreso, Chris KNEW it wouldn't be perfect. In the very first moments of the conference, he offered this: "for best results, just add flexibility." Perfectionism is really and truly just another way to procrastinate.

3) We don't need to go it alone. Ask for the help. WDS came together with the love, support and hard work of a dedicated team of ambassadors and volunteers.

4) Do not judge the length of your step. It is enough. I am enough. You are enough.

5) Your step will inspire the same in others. Action amplifies inspiration…just like magic.

6) Be generous. Look around you, and notice where you can support others with YOUR help as they take their own baby steps.

The love story starts with a wave.

The epic tome starts with a "There".

The masterpiece starts with a dipped brush.

The journey starts with a step.

Just start. From here.

A long, long time ago, there lived a sea anemone. He was a gorgeous creature of brilliant violet. His pedal disc was attached to an impressive rock in the Great Barrier Reef and though he had everything a sea anemone could desire (warmth, light, abundant food), he knew he was missing something.

His job, as he learned at a young age, was to stay adhered to his rock, and to remain in vigilant wait for a fish to pass close enough. Then, when it was within striking distance, he was to lash out and sting it with his tentacles, paralyze it with his poison, then draw the fish to its mouth and devour it.

When he wasn't on the hunt, he was to remain vigilant about being eaten himself. If a threat was near, he was to shrink back into himself, pulling his tentacles inside his mouth, and draw together like a pouch. While his poison was lethal, it was his only defense. With no teeth, no claws and no speed, he was vulnerable, so his parents kept reminding him. Lay low. Stay vigilant.

And yet…yet.

He longed to dance with the dazzling fish that swam in the light just out of reach. From time to time, he would wave his tentacles in time to the music made by the dancing fish, but his parents would scold him for being recklessly showy.

He was lonely. He hated killing. He hated living in fear. He hated this vigilance as much as he hated his vulnerability.

He longed for freedom. He longed for connection with another being. There must be another way, he thought.

No. He was told by his parents. THIS is the anemone way. You are vulnerable. Remain vigilant. Eat or be eaten.

The other sea anemones laughed when they heard him talk about the beauty and grace of the fish.

One day, he decided it was time to leave the rock. While his parents were busy devouring a pair of shrimp that had swam too close, he pulled his pedal disc off the rock he knew too well, and with a great flexing motion started to float away. He was afraid, he felt unsafe and he felt more alive than he had ever felt.

++++++

On the other side of the rock lived a clown fish. Small and slight, he was rebuffed by the other clown fish. While they played in the light and chased each other, he watched from the opening of the cavern that was his home, yearning for connection.

You are small and vulnerable, his parents told him. Lay low. Don't draw attention to yourself. Do not stray from the cavern or you will be eaten by an anemone who will outwit you or by a larger fish who will outswim you. Don't you dare think of dancing with the other fish. Remain vigilant in the cavern and we will bring you food. It's the only way.

Instinctively, he knew there was another way. A life to be lived.

One day, he decided to find it by leaving the cavern.

++++++

Once the sea anemone could no longer see the rock that was his home, he rested his weary body on some kelp. Not used to being on top of a moving object, he was delighted to be swayed back and forth by his new host. Relaxing into the rhythm, he allowed his tentacles to unfurl and sway to music that he was starting to hear, he had never enjoyed such freedom. Such a LACK of vigilance.

At that same moment, the clown fish was swimming at full speed towards a field of kelp that he had heard of. Head down, eyes closed, he barreled through the water, his heart pounding with equal measure of delight and fear.

He looked up just in time to see the expanse of green kelp and in his excitement, he shot up in a jubilant swoop.

Only to be face to face with the unsuspecting sea anemone.

Oh LORD. My parents were right. I let my vigilance down and here I am, vulnerable and about to get eaten , the anemone and clown fish both thought in that very moment.

They sat there, resigned to their death for but a moment.

Then they asked simultaneously: Aren't you going to eat me?

To which they simultaneously answered, No!

With uncertainty in their minds, but hope in their hearts, they sat side by side for a moment. Then, they proceeded to share their stories. The sea anemone revealed his abhorrence for killing other creatures and how he wished he wasn't filled with poison and the clown fish shared how he wanted to take care of himself. They both wanted to dance and they both wanted to be free.

The clown fish realized there was only one way to make sure this friendship could work…so on a hunch, he demanded that the sea anemone sting him. Fearful of killing his first and only friend, the sea anemone reluctantly did as he was asked.

To his surprise, the clown fish was unaffected by poisonous ether. The mucus that covered him rendered him unharmed.

Jubilant, the clown fish and the sea anemone danced out their joy. They decided in that moment to spend their days together, in symbiotic connection. The clown fish would live within the tentacles of the sea anemone, safe and sound and unaffected by its predators who feared the anemones sting. In turn, the clown fish would keep the anemone clean and would bring back food for his friend.

Turns out, there WAS another way.


by Tanya Geisler

You are exceptional. I recently heard Deepak Chopra say: your body is literally made out of stardust. Can you hear the whoa-ness of that?

You are LITERALLY made out of stardust.

AND…

In this moment, your very presence is making the world exactly what it is. Without you, the universe would be different.

So it bears repeating: You are exceptional.

How will you honour your exceptionality?

People come to coaching because they have seen a glimmer of what could (might?) be. A divine whisper of "you can".

Often times, we ignore it. Largely because we can't trust it. It's too crazy. Haven't you been stockpiling all the reasons you "can't" your whole life? Why yes, I do believe you have.

And yet, there is something about the whisper that compels you. You keep coming back to it.

That's because it is the TRUTH, my friend.

And in that truth is a vision. YOUR vision. The one that you can barely name. The one that makes your heart expand and your toes tingle just thinking about it. So you don't.

But there's that whisper again. "You can".

So you tentatively consider the "how" and that shuts you down again. Because it's too much. This vision takes work. That's another truth: THIS VISION TAKES WORK. There are requirements expected of you. You must define your vision. You must see it. Feel it. Taste it. Trust it. Move towards it. Be obedient to it.

What magic happens when you honour you vision by naming, owning and obeying it? A light will beam from your heart, illuminating a path for you, rendering the "how" insignificant. Because you are getting there.

You will start to notice that you are now on a new path. One you don't recognize. One that has no others' footprints. That's to be expected.

No one has been on THIS path before. No one has your very iteration. Oh yes, there may be points along the path that merge with others, and frankly there is comfort there. In fact, there may be times where intentionally switching back to the beaten path is the right call. Like slipping into your favourite worn jeans. The ones that know your curves so well. The homeness of the experience. Rest here. Recharge here.

Then get back out there, machete in hand forging ahead with the searchlight emanating from your heart. Your vision awaits.

You can, and you will. Because you are exceptional.


by Tanya Geisler

Rarely do you see an act of courage and recognize it immediately for what it is.

There is seldom a rousing crescendo of music playing to bring our attention round to a courageous feat before us. It helps when someone points it out.

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew." – spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Courage often masquerades as something else. Or our judgment shrouds what we're witnessing and calls it something easier for us to digest.

Sometimes it looks like dogmatic stubbornness.

Sometimes it looks like bravery.

Sometimes it looks like martyrdom.

Sometimes it looks like doing the impossible.

Sometimes it looks like love: of self or others.

Sometimes it looks like naïveté.

Sometimes it looks like doing it alone.

Sometimes it looks like doing it together.

Sometimes it looks like elegance and poise.

Sometimes it looks like snot and tears and sweat.

Sometimes it looks like doing it "in spite of…"

Sometimes it looks like alienation.

Sometimes it looks like risk.

Sometimes it looks like tender vulnerability.

Sometimes it looks like breaking through.

Sometimes it looks like stoicism.

Sometimes it looks like pacifism.

Sometimes it looks like rebellion.

Sometimes it looks like relentless compassion.

Sometimes it looks like cutting something loose.

Sometimes it looks like forgiveness.

Sometimes it looks like admitting defeat.

Sometimes it looks like uncompromising integrity.

Sometimes it looks like stopping.

Sometimes it looks like starting.

Sometimes it looks like power.

Sometimes it looks like weakness.

Sometimes it looks like blind faith.

No matter what it looks like, its source is not to be refuted. TRUE courage comes from the heart. Etymologically and figuratively.

Whether it's in kicking your morphine habit before you die like Mrs Dubose, holding vigil for someone's worry so they can sleep, calling out a gang of teenagers on the subway to give up a seat to an elderly man, or loving fully and completely.

The trick is in trusting the irrevocable truth that lies in the heart. Hearing the call for courage and heeding it.

Tricky business, indeed.


by Tanya Geisler

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