Friends of mine often ask me what the hell it is I actually do and I often don’t know what to say. “I motivate, I make adults feel good, I support people, I validate people, I enable people to be their best selves, I bring people together, I build community, I curate transformative experiences, I connect, I engage, I host, I facilitate…” These things sound at best vague and at worst like I’m in a cult or I’m on drugs.
But after 3 days at Hive and standing in front of a room of 106 badass leaders from 26 countries, I’m again reminded of the fact that this is my life’s work and that my life’s work matters. People are everything. To give people a space to come together and share their stories, to share their vulnerabilities, to share their accomplishments, to share their fears, to share their needs, to share their gifts, to share their visions for the future, is everything.
We need more validators in this world. We need more people to validate someone’s aspirations — however ridiculous and impossible. We need more people to look into someone’s eyes and say “damn straight you’re gonna lift 1 billion people out of poverty — and I will help you do it,” “damn straight you will empower women and girls to be the ones standing in front of the room and leading the businesses and organizations of the future — and I will help you do it,” “damn straight you will use play to remind adults why they are alive — and I will help you do it,” “damn straight you will leave the $20 million dollar company you run because you would rather empower youth in your community — and I will help you do it,” “damn straight you will use technology not just to make money but to help people become healthier humans — and I will help you do it,” “damn straight you will stop CO2 levels from rising — and I will help you do it, and I must help you do it, because MY FUCKING LIFE DEPENDS ON HELPING YOU DO IT.”
Apathy is powerful but it’s no match for validation.
I wrote this post to do something I never do: acknowledge myself for my work. Whether or not some people think it sounds cultish or fake; it’s real, it’s important, I love it, and I will keep doing it.
I wrote this post to acknowledge the communities of validation and support I’ve been a part of in the last two years — including Hive, Camp Grounded,The Bold Academy, The Passion Company, and StartingBloc — that are changing lives by bringing people together that need to be brought together. To create the spaces and places where people can come together and be authentic and passionate and purposeful and honest and real and weird, is an art. Community building is a profession. Community building is a life’s work. Community building is a legacy.
I wrote this post to acknowledge the individuals that are part of these communities — the leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, activists, believers, teachers, learners, creators, innovators, changemakers, healers, and weirdos — who dedicate their days to living with purpose. You inspire the world to wake up in the morning.
If you are someone like me — a convener, enabler, community builder, curator, connector, social catalyst, experience designer, facilitator, movement builder — do not listen when people tell you your work is bullshit or that your job title makes it sound like you’re unemployed. Keep going. Your work is real work. Your work matters. Your work matters more than you know. You are changing lives; one person, one phone call, one room, one program, one conference, one event, one community at a time. You are providing a home to those of us who give a shit and without your work, nothing is possible.
Author's Note: This post was originally published on Medium on September 29, 2014.