How Tribe Conference is the annual recalibrator I need.
And how it may just be for you as well.
I’m walking a tightrope. Below stands the ringmaster, The Greatest Showman (a.k.a., Jeff Goins). A hush blankets the arena crowd, collective breath held as I inch forward, step-by-grueling-step. I keep my eyes laser-focused to make it to the other side. But just what – or who – is there?
That tightrope represents the distinct tension I feel at the intersection of these two questions:
What would my work look like if I were okay just being me? – Speaker Paul Angone
How can I make it about my audience? – Speaker Janet Murray
These questions become the through-line for me at Tribe Conference 2018.
Just being me in all the mess
Being my authentic self means stripping down what everyone may think or expect of me and letting myself shine. With brilliance and confidence. Being fully alive (in the words of Irenaeus in the second century, and speaker Ken Davis in the 21st).
This noble goal often gets a gut punch from OCD – obsessive comparison disorder (Paul Angone). I’ve come to realize how prone I am to fall prey to this condition. Is it true what we have will never be enough, or can we come to a place of true contentment? (I put stock in the latter.)
Meanwhile, as I inch forward on that tightrope, “gremlin voices” jeer at me: “That sucks,” or “No one really cares.” Or, even, “You aren’t good enough.” Speaker Melissa Dinwiddie leads us through a creative exercise of drawing and naming one of our gremlins. Therapeutic. I’ll continue doing it.
We’re not alone
Around our tables at Tribe Conference sit so many familiar with this tension. For in our virtual world, where we often can begin relationships, there’s nothing like the face-to-face encounter. Tribe Conference brings together a few hundred messy people carrying their unique message to bring forth into the world. This is community creatives need.
Added to this are speakers who who share with brutal honesty about their struggles, challenging us:
- Todd Henry calls us out: “Are you owning those rough edges of yourself?”
- Marsha Shandur, the “Anti-Awkwardness Ambassador” for the Tribe Conferences, tells us to share our isht! – basically, our messiness. She reveals the isht! of some of the speakers. “I don’t feel worthy of anyone’s time. I always feel I’m in someone’s way.” That from boss vlogger Amy Landino. Whoa.
- Chandler Bolt tells us his story of dropping out of college. (And then he face-palm leaves his laptop behind.)
- Chase Jarvis reveals his mega-mistake missing an opportunity to sell his Instagram technology for $100M. (Ouch!)
- Tim Grahl reveals his insecurities over writing and publishing his own book, even as he had managed to take so many others’ books to best-seller status.
- Joseph Michael shares about his pizza delivery job rejections coupled with his financial desperado moments.
- Heather Teysko recounts her 20-year journey, full of doubts and missteps.
- Paul Angone tells of his insecurities and his winding-road journey. And then he goes on to challenge us with the biggest question of all:
Who will you NOT be able to help if you give up now?
That is the person standing at the other end of the tightrope.
Making it for your audience
For the tightrope tension is this: Being your authentic self isn’t for everybody. But it is for somebody – that person on the other end of the tightrope. Your avatar, your “Charlotte,” as Amy Landino shared.
That person needs to get you like a kindred spirit. As if you wrote (or painted, or podcasted) just for him or her. And it’s often from out of your mess where the message takes on a life to benefit another.
That is the person – and the manifestation of your peculiar genius – on the other end of that tightrope.
Eyes fixed forward. Breathing. Balance. Trusting the experience. Focused. Knowing below me is a net of “I get it too” likeminded Tribe Writers. They are there lest I fall (and I most certainly will).
Still, I lean in.
Photo credit: Luke DePalatis
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