Nearly ten years ago, I attended an event produced by Summit, a global community of entrepreneurs, academics, athletes, artists, astronauts, authors, chefs, engineers, explorers, philanthropists, spiritual leaders, scientists and beyond.
At the time, I was none of those things.
In fact, I didn’t really know who I was, what I wanted or where I was going in life.
When I’d meet someone new and learn what they were up to, they’d say things like, “I’m writing a book with Jay-Z.” (These are all actual examples.)
Or, “I’m a professional mountain climber, sponsored athlete and award-winning documentary filmmaker. Oh, and I’ve skied down Everest.”
Or, “I founded the Burning Man Festival.”
Or, “I’m a music producer. I work with artists including Pink, Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson.”
Or, “As a boy, I loved comic books, and I went on to produce the original Batman films. I’m also the first instructor to teach an accredited course on comic book folklore at any university.”
Of the hundreds of people at the event, it seemed like each of them was up to something incredible, and that they had embraced Summit’s motto, “Make No Small Plans.”
Except for me.
In every conversation, when it was my turn to share about what I was up to, I’d say, “My parents are successful entrepreneurs, and I work in our family business.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson is often quoted, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
After giving that answer a few dozen times, I realized that I hadn’t decided to be anyone in particular, and that I was living far below my potential.
And it wasn’t that the people I was meeting were so accomplished, though they were. It was that they were good at what they did, that they were making a difference in the world, and above all, that they were passionate.
They were clear about what they were working to accomplish, and why. They were committed.
In those regards, they were different from me.
Peter Diamandis, who was also at the event, has suggested, “Find something you would die for and live for it.”
These Summit attendees, as a group, seemed to have done just that. I had not.
While I can’t say that I completely unearthed my passion that weekend, I did gain a lot of clarity about the kind of person I want to be and the life I want to live. And the kind of person I no longer want to be.
Attending the event also allowed me to see first-hand the reality that who we associate with makes a HUGE difference in the trajectory of our lives. I’m grateful to say that some of the friendships I made then continue to this day.
I haven’t yet become an astronaut, a chef or a scientist, but I have a better sense of what it takes to become one. And I’ve more fully connected to my passion, strived to realize my potential, and worked boldly to be who I want to be.
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