I just spent four days immersed in the wonder and weird that is the annual Misfit Conference in Fargo, North Dakota. I refer to this experience as being with my people, or running with my pack. And I do feel like I was on the run, full clip, for four days.
Imagine four days in an environment in which everything is by design, every single detail intentional, from the chairs to the coffee cups to the art to the music to the party venues to the speakers to the cocktails to the moon itself if they could reach. For four days we come together in this super-saturated environment in which each participant is somehow conspiring to launch every other participant, in which we're by turns collaborating & egging each other on to reach for even greater greatness. It’s super-inspiring. There’s cheering. There’s crying. It's fantastic. Intense, but really: fantastic.
It can be a pretty heady thing to sit there and listen to speaker after speaker share her or his own story, her or his own hero's journey, really. Each one has their very own story of adversity, of being offered a choice.
"You always have a choice."
That's how AJ framed the conference in his opening remarks, his own having been to ditch the big career/corner office in order to be "flamboyantly me, to live a life of intention on my terms."
It can be pretty heady stuff, right? One amazing story after another.
I couldn’t help it. Of course I started running the comparison drill in my head. Which is painful, right? Like, damn, I haven't accomplished shit compared to her. Other times, it was just incomprehensible to consider how someone has survived what they have, and lived to fight on, to fight for their life, really, the life they want to make. The stories that get shared feel pretty epic, you know? So I'm probably not alone with this thought:
Shit, my shit's not epic enough.
I think about the story I would tell if called upon to do so. Naturally, I wonder would anyone even care, given the general glitter of brilliance in the room. Of accomplishment. How would my little story of all the crazy twists and unexpected turns my life has taken, how would that measure up? My NEES -- Not Epic Enough Syndrome -- is suddenly inflamed.
And then I remember. That that contraction that I sometimes feel, the I'm-not-enough born of that kind of comparison, that's noise. That's a way-out, a way of dimming the light of my own doing, of not holding my head high about all the bad-assery I've wrought in this world already. It's actually a turning away from the choices I did make, choices that led me to the work and a life that truly matter. NEES can suck it.
If you're the hero, then it's always epic.
So, really, the point of all those speakers wasn’t to say, These are the important stories. Yours is not. And the point of all the detail isn't the detail. It's a reminder to be deliberate in every possible way. To put your life and work together with as much intention, as much care. The stories? They are inspiration, are vindication, are fuel. To keep choosing. Above all, to keep doing.
Figure it out. Then do it.
In the end, that’s the work that truly matters: the figuring it out, then doing. Just keep that up, you heroes and heroines. That’s the work. That's life.