I’m writing this on a plane from Portland back home to San Francisco after joining 3000 visionaries and thought leaders who attended Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit. This very inspiring conference was peopled with those inspired by Chris’s manifesto “A Brief Guide To World Domination,” which is less about colonization and more about saving the world.

Gretchen Rubin is saving the world by teaching people how to be happier, Don Miller is helping people rewrite the stories of their lives, Nancy Duarte is helping people tell stories that can change the world, Bob Moore is changing the world by putting people before profit, Jia Jiang is changing the world by helping people learn to take risks by getting comfortable with rejection.

Pretty much everyone I met was either on a mission to fulfill a calling or on a quest to find one. After the conference ended with a tear-jerking sparkling apple juice toast, I found myself reinvigorated in my own mission to heal health care, and everyone I spoke to felt inspired to change the world in their own small or big way.

It was awesome.

But as the afterglow of the post-WDS Bollywood dance party wore off, I found myself pondering what motivated all of us to try to make the world a better place.

I wound up posting this on Facebook:

After spending the weekend with 3000 visionaries committed to changing the world, I find myself reflecting upon on what motivates visionaries. Are we motivated by a pure, unadulterated desire to leave the world better off than we found it? Or are we operating from a place of deep unworthiness, of not being enough unless we make the world a better place? Or is it some combination of both?

So many people are desperate to find their calling, their reason for existence, their meaning of life. And many others, like myself, feel they have found it- and are now on a quest to fulfill a vision. But is the quest driven by the right motives?

What made Martin Luther King, Jr campaign for civil rights? What made Nelson Mandela take a stand? What made Abraham Lincoln free the slaves? What made Evita and Mother Teresa fight for the rights of the poor?

Is it a deep-seated sense of unworthiness that needs to be healed? Is it ego? Do we need to feel like we’ve contributed big things so we know we are valuable? Is it karmic? Are we trying to pay off some debt for wrongs committed in past lives? Are we craving love, acceptance, external validation?

Or is it noble? Are we just caring, committed souls devoted to service without any self-serving motives? Are we clear vessels for Divine work in the world moving through us?

What do YOU think?

The Facebook Response

Forty-seven people responded with very thoughtful answers, including these:

Beth Gradone Krajewski wrote, “I suspect human beings come from mixed motives much of the time, and we can afford to be forgiving of the ego-ridden places in ourselves and others if the work is really being done and done well. But motives do matter, at least as far as they can poison the work if not recognized and dealt with. Lifting up the questions and asking all those who engage in visionary action to get real about their self-worth and the source of their dreams only furthers the work itself and the quality of the results.”

Jennifer Newcomb Marine wrote, “I think the vision, altruism and drive spring from someplace pure in your heart. Then fear and ego get involved and create this start-stop dance of self-doubt, craving validation, and thinking, ‘To heck with everyone!’and so on… The trick is to get out of your own way so you can make a contribution. But the journey there is full of learning about how and why you trip yourself up too.”

Pamela Potter wrote, “I really think it is a divine push that we can’t avoid. Many of the historical figures weren’t what we’d consider personally enlightened and many of them didn’t get any kind of recognition until much later, so I don’t think ego figures in. If you are called to do something, you just CAN’T not do it. Even if you just babble at people and write a blog that no one reads or articles that don’t always get published, your heart has to know that you are doing something. I’m not sure most of us go into it with a plan. We just can’t stop thinking about our thing, what ever it is, and we have to DO something.”

Lori Santo posted, “I personally feel that it is a powerful inner pull….. combined with a ‘Priestly Divine Appointment’ ~ which of course transcends language ~ coupled with an intense sense of and alignment with profound compassion for humanity.”

The Evolution Of The Species

I don’t know the answer to the questions I pose. But I have a hunch that our species is evolving, maybe not so much on the physical plane, but at the level of consciousness.  For many years, many of us- myself included- have been spiritually asleep.  But more and more people are waking up to a broadening consciousness, and this awakening is accompanied by a desire to leave the world better than we found it.

Uri Geller once suggested that we only use 10% of the capacity of our brains, and while PET scan imagery and fMRI seem to refute this, I do suspect we have capacities of consciousness we are only just beginning to tap into.  Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, author of Proof Of Heaven, wrote about how his near-death experience, which occurred while he was technically brain dead, changes his belief that consciousness lies in the brain. He now believes that consciousness transcends the brain, that we have souls that exist beyond the body, and that there are realms of consciousness a few lucky ducks like Dr. Alexander and Anita Moorjani have been blessed to experience and then remember.

Stealth Agents For God

World Domination Summit has nothing to do with religion, Chris Guillebeau certainly wouldn’t self-identify as a spiritual leader, and many of those who attended probably wouldn’t even label themselves as spiritual, but I left World Domination Summit with a strong sense that the Divine is at work though the vehicle of the people who attended this conference.

Martha Beck would call these people “The Team” or “Stealth Agents For God”. We are all doing our part, in our own Divinely unique way, to make the world a better place.

So I guess it doesn’t really matter what motivates those of us to “dominate” the world. The important thing is that we are making ourselves vessels, allowing Divine work to move through us, spreading love and kindness and compassion and grace, leaving the world better than we found it.

What Do YOU Think?

Tell us your stories.

With love and world domination,

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  1. Nicole Witt

    Thanks Lissa for this article. I have been struggling myself lately to try to answer this question for me personally.

    When I receive positive feedback from a reader or client letting me know how much I have helped them, I find myself “looking out” for any ego reaction. I love the affirmation for my work, but I want to make sure I am not looking for validation – that I don’t let my ego run away and become “too big for my britches”.

  2. Sweta Chawla

    I have gone through a huge transition in the last year and it started off with migraines which eventually turned into a message from God that I needed to quit my job now! Only prob was that I was the bread winner and had a 1 yr old at the time (sound similar Lissa?) Fast forward a year later and not only did I quit my job but I found my life’s purpose and I do believe we all have one. I do believe that our skills, talents, life experiences were all given to us as a way to express the Divine through ourselves. During that year the awareness of why I chose the soul I did to be me my mother (to show me what happens when you live smally and do not express your true self) and the premature birth of my son all made sense. Just this week I completely cut the cord on my “trained profession” of pharmacy to pursue my calling of Making Peoples World’s Bigger…. through my site and blog http://www.drsweta.com

    I am sure there are mixed reason folks are motivated to change the world but I am sure many of those folks are just offering what they were suppose to in this lifetime to the world.

  3. T.L. Parks

    I sometimes suspect that some of our
    aspirations and “callings”, as beautiful as they may be in a sense, really are
    not as profound or important as we choose to think they are. IT IS GOOD to find
    your bliss and to follow it. It is certainly better to find work that you
    enjoy, and do that—instead of frowning and complaining your days away. Being
    happy has its benefits. Feeling useful, we need that. Feeling important isn’t
    so bad either (if you are honest).
    But we have important people all over
    the world. Some you see, and some you don’t. Law makers, spiritual gurus,
    home-makers, best-sellers, and so on. I wonder if our busyness, our building or
    re-building, our search for meaning (which with some luck, we can begin turning
    into a successful business) I wonder how many people would follow their calling
    if no one ever knew them. If there was no platform to build, no books to write
    and sell…no stares of envy from others, no fancy thing to say when someone asks
    what do you do for a living…no rags to riches story to share, and so on.
    If following your heart meant, no
    domination or massive recognition…no quitting your job…do you think that we
    would be as knee-deep into spiritual evolution as we are? In comparison, how much
    time do we spend praising and appreciating the sacredness of the kind janitor
    who opens the door for you every morning with a smile on his face, because you
    are the first one there, and on occasion
    shares a sweet story with you that touches your heart? When we are around the
    water cooler at work, how much time do we spend discussing the effects of
    meeting the nicest person ever, on the elevator…and how for just that short
    time, on the elevator with them—feeling calm and “seen” perhaps, for the first
    time in a long time? These opportunities are small and yet they are big. Some things can’t be measured. Maybe
    our real contribution is energy and how we live our daily lives…the big, the
    small, and the other.

    • Lissa_Rankin

      Amen to all of this T.L.! A while back I wrote a post about the janitor who changed my life as a resident…

      There need be nothing grand about making the world a better place.

    • Becky Cashman

      TL, the everyday hero, yes!

      I love the question in the backwater of all that energy. It would be tempting to just ride the buzz of “world domination”. Hats off to you, Lissa, for just taking a breath to ask. For the past couple of years I’ve been calling myself a “teacher” as I do indeed have a lot to share. Lately though, I call myself gratefully alive. It fits me much better, and allows my “teaching” to be a natural as breathing.

  4. Jamie

    Great topic. You started out with a really interesting, honest exploration of a worthwhile inquiry, but then once you got to the facebook responses, it seems that you changed the subject and went for a puff piece. Disappointing. It would be great if you could go deep, stay honest, and complete the exploration you started.

  5. Rebecca Lafferty

    I think the answers you seek are a combination of many things and are
    not black and white in their truth, despite our attempt to make them so.
    Our ego has a need to be right and therefore looks at the world
    through the lens of polarity. However, true bliss is found when you can
    honor the ‘is-ness’ in everything without the need to judge it as good
    or bad, right or wrong. It just ‘is’. I would ask…does your search
    for an answer to the ‘why’ behind your mission change anything about
    your doing your mission? What does finding an answer solve or validate
    for you?

    I am able to access the Akashic Record for an
    individual to see what their soul level gifts are. At the time of our
    soul’s origination, divine source created each of us as a unique
    individuated expression of itself. No two souls are alike. Each of us
    has a divine soul blueprint that is comprised of energy from 8 different
    energy centers. Each center has gifts (and shadows) associated with
    it. The majority of us have one primary energy center that is dominant
    in our soul blueprint. Some individuals have 2… these gifts are
    inherent to who you are and when you incorporate your divine ‘being’
    into your human being..well abundance and purpose follow. Very few
    people know who they are at soul level, and even fewer live their life
    in alignment. But doing so allows life to flow…as you simply share
    your divine essence (and gifts) with the world.

    Being in
    alignment, pursuing your purpose from this place is not Egoic in nature.
    Pursuing what you think you ‘should’ be doing according to everyone
    else’s plan for you, or from a deep seated emotionally wounded place in
    search of love and approval…is from ego. Everyone’s story is
    different. Some people are balancing out Karma. And according to a
    modality called Human Design, each of us have a different make up. Some
    of us have a destiny driven purpose while others are beholden to
    Interpersonal Karma. It’s not a one size fits all!! As long as you are
    honoring Your Sacred Truth (www.yoursacredtruth.com) ….it doesn’t
    matter! Nor, is anyone else’s path our business. It is the ego that
    neeeds so desperately to know….to be right, to be validated, to be

    Live your purpose, honor your truth, follow your
    mission. The why is as unique as each of us are. You can’t fit that into a neat little answer and trying to do so distracts you from the people you are trying to serve.

  6. Donna

    Lisa I am on a journey after 16 years on psych meds. I cannot stop talking about this. I was a professional who got wrongly diagnosised and stopped listening to my inner light for a very long time. I am not saying that all medications are wrong or all diagnosis are incorrect. I have my opinions and I’ll keep them to myself. But my story is different, I feel free to tell it. I think that a pill cannot turn pain into happiness or parenting into better methods. Life is hard work!! Its like being told you have diabeties…are you going to keep on eating poorly because there is insulin? For every problem there is a solution. Except when we look to nature…sometimes there is death…sooner than the norm. We can start to get out of our own way when we realize who is writing the script!! Even then its not an easy journey. But why not? There is more happiness in living in honesty with yourself and others than not!! Honor emotions: meditate not medicate. Honor Children: listen not ignore. Honor Teens: Listen, get out of the way, unless its a matter of life and death. Above all listen to yourself: become your truth. Namaste

  7. Kelly Wagner

    Wonderfully thought-provoking post, Lissa…each of those Facebook comments you included resonated with me too. Whether the call to change the world in some way comes from a feeling of unworthiness or from the calling of our spirit (or some combination of these, or other factors), I’d agree that as long we make our best efforts to ensure that ego stays out of the way, it matters not so much the motivation for our efforts, but the fact that we are *making* efforts.

    And yes, yes, YES to your response to T.L. Parks, about there not needing to be anything ‘grand’ about making the world a better place; I write about that specifically in my ‘Dreamsmith Guide to Creating a Life You Love’. We all make a difference, and we can’t possibly know the full scope of our impact and the ‘ripple effect’ of our actions…and therein lies the beauty & magic of striving in any way, from any motivation, to make the world a better place.

    Thank you for all the incredible work you do, and the voice you give to visionaries everywhere. Namaste, beautiful soul! 🙂

  8. 3487855

    Love this post and what you’ve written here! I really believe it is the Hero’s Journey – why do those of us who are healers in the world and those with the most success have some of the hardest journey’s? We were born/bred and wired to overcome obstacles and inspire other like-minded souls. Is there some level of Ego pushing us? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Only if it’s pathological. Otherwise, we need our Ego to focus and shine our lights (see Abraham-Hicks thoughts on Ego). Otherwise we would just sit in the mountains meditating. That time is over. Consciousness is evolving, we are ready to thrive! Thank you for creating this conversation. Love that you’re in the world shining this light for so many of us! Love! xo

  9. Terri Wingham

    Lissa – It was wonderful to meet you briefly at #WDS2013. I think Martha Beck is onto something. Stealth Agents for God. I like it. Each of us can feel the difference between people who are building fame for fame’s sick and the people who create communities because they are using their unique gifts to make an impact on the world.

    No matter how much work we do on ourselves, I think we will always dance with what Brene Brown calls the “hustle for worthiness”. But I felt that so many of the speakers at WDS are true visionaries and world shakers who don’t pretend to have all of the answers, who are willing to act as divine vessels, and who could never do this in such a public way if they were operating from a place of deep unworthiness.

    In my experience, it is having a sense of worthiness that allows us to dream (whether in a big or small way). But, it’s our job to not let our successes feed our egos to the place where we forget our intended work and get drawn back into the worthiness hustle. Rather to remember that if we stay true to the calling, the right people will be on our path and the work will feed us. Easier said than done, but something I continue to work on in myself. Focus on the work. Focus on being the vessel. Let the rest go. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Intuitive Leadership Coach

    I personally wouldn’t chose the word “dominate” but I get why Chris has chosen that word and I love what he stands for. I prefer “lovingly impact” the world. But these are just words and the work that the peeps at WDS and many others around the world are doing is definitely impacting positively.

    I feel so deeply inspired when I see (and read) someone like you Lissa who is courageously (and gorgeously I might add) impacting the world and standing up for her beliefs and carrying out her hearts mission.

    I think consciousness is definitely evolving and a strong, powerful, transformational momentum is now going. Watch out!


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