The Conversations in Purpose Project: Because Conversation is a Creative Device

Today is my birthday.

As it happens, I’m on my way (as you read this) to my big writing and yoga retreat, Weekend in the Woods

We have a dozen incredible human beings arriving today from all over North America for an inspired and creatively-invigorating weekend. Guests are visiting from Oregon, Montana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ontario, Boston and Connecticut.

I also flew in a special guest speaker who you might know–the wonderfully talented Ms. Alexandra Franzen, author of 50 Ways to Say You’re Awesome–who is sitting shotgun with me now as we drive to the retreat center.

Suffice it to say, even if this can be called “work” I’m definitely feeling the birthday love today!

But back in the late summer, I was feeling pretty shitty.

After my slew of travels over the first half of the year had ended, I was left in the late summer wondering what was coming next: where I was traveling next, or where I was moving next, or what work I was doing next, or what projects and events were happening next.

Suddenly, I felt completely out of sync. I felt anxious about my direction, disconnected from my work, and woefully disconnected from others.

But I began to notice something curious.

During this time, I was having just my usual conversations with friends and clients on the phone. And after every conversation, I felt better. I felt grounded. I felt reconnected to people, in touch with myself again, and inspired to create.

Conversation, it turns out, was reconnecting me to the present moment: the only place where love and giving can be made real; the only time we have to be with others; the only opportunity that we have to create.

And so a project was born.

Conversations in Purpose is a crowd-sourced experiment in using the art of improvised, unscripted conversations to reconnect with our lives’ purposes and discover answers to our biggest questions.

Over the last four months, I sought the help of friends from around the globe to host me in dozens and dozens of completely improvised, unscripted one-on-one conversations that we recorded with the intention to deeply explore topics, questions and ideas that truly matter to us.

More than thirty conversations later, what we’ve discovered is something special:

  • Conversation is a creative device. By conversing with someone, you find yourself in a process of creation that’s extremely similar to writing: choosing words, sharing ideas, telling stories, sifting emotion and sorting thoughts.
  • Saying what scares you makes you worth listening to. Knowing that our words were going to be shared with others seemed to create a quiet system of accountability and responsibility on behalf of one another as we spoke: we knew that we needed to each embrace a deep sense of honesty and vulnerability so that we would be genuinely giving something of worth and value to those who listened, or we would run the risk of wasting people’s time with empty talk.
  • A sense of healthy responsibility to the other soul creates a joint sense of mission, and reconnects you to your truth. In every conversation, my partner and I found that the explorative power of verbal communication helped us unearth answers to some of our biggest questions through a simple sense of joint mission, togetherness and shared experience. We were no longer alone with these thoughts–we were together with them.

The goal of this project is to encourage more people to use daily conversations–ordinary and overlooked, easy to avoid or think of as “wastes of time”–as incredibly powerful and authentic methods of discovery and creativity. In conversation, we reconnect with the present moment, ground ourselves and remember the importance of others around us.

In conversation, we find a source of creativity-in-action that stokes our creative energy–and renews our sense of purpose, time and time again.

With more than 30 Conversations in Purpose recorded since last summer and each starting to make its first appearance across the web today, and as a birthday gift from me to you, I’m excited to share the first roundup of Conversations in Purpose below.

I hope that you’ll take some time to explore them and listen to them.

A huge thank you to all my friends who were kind enough to host me in a Conversation in Purpose. Here’s to you!

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Leveraging Fear and Uncertainty with Fel Spahr

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These days, it seems that everyone who’s anyone is talking about fear and uncertainty. They’re conditions of life, after all–and topics that arise time and time again for writers, creatives and entrepreneurs. In this Conversation in Purpose, Fel and I explore how to leverage those very uncomfortable feelings to carve out the life that you’ve always dreamed of living.

mattsScratch Your ‘Creative Itch’ with Matthew Stillman

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Prompted by the word “Scratch,” creative problem-solver Matt Stillman and I dive into an intense exploration of “the” itch of creative types. What are the five ways we react to our wishes/desires/dreams? How does being creative require being sensitive? How does service or an other-centered perspective transform the experience of creativity? And, ultimately, how to leave behind a legacy of love.

Leading from the Back of the Room with Gregory Berggregb

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Joining the host of Radio Enso, Greg Berg and I wade through soulful and philosophical exploration about intentional living, creativity, self-awareness, and big picture questions like “What’s it all for?” Tapping into our shared roots in the political world, Greg and I ruminate on what it means to “lead from the back of the room,” and how you can do that, yourself.

lisarAccepting Your Value as a Creator with Lisa Young

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The author of The Secret Watch and master architect of the entrepreneur’s Noble Empire, Lisa Robbin Young hosts this Conversation in Purpose on a topic that she calls, “…one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn how to do: accept and own my value as a creator, a human, a person on this planet.”

susannStop Spreading Yourself Too Thin with Susan Newman

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Trying to do too many projects at once (and ultimately not accomplishing very much). What do you do when you’re spread too thin? Is it true that “having a finger in multiple pots” is the only way to “keep life interesting”? Or, is trying to do too much at once causing you to create lack-luster work for the world?

sandyg“Too Busy” for Responsibility with Sandy Galiano

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Sandy Galiano and I open up our Conversation in Purpose by confronting the common excuse that everyone loves to throw around these days: being “too busy,” but more importantly, how the idea of being “too busy” quietly causes a lack of consideration for others, and harms how we maintain responsibilities and commitments.

nikkiGet Unstuck Creatively with Nikki Groom

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Sitting down with a fellow Rhode Islander (by way of England), Nikki Groom and I open up this Conversation in Purpose to discuss writing and yoga as lifelong practices, understanding the importance of space to harness moments of “flow,” and what to do when you feel creatively stuck.

How Introverts Can Meet More People with Joe Choijoec

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Maintaining old friendships and developing new ones. What happens when you reinvent yourself? People from your past knew you, but when you reinvent yourself it’s like you become a new person. How do you approach this? In this Conversation in Purpose, Literati Writer Joe Choi and I open up on mixing business and friendship, dealing with guilt and shame, and how to meet people if you’re an introvert.

elleneOwning Your Story (+ Online Dating) with Ellen Ercolini

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Ellen Ercolini and I dish in this Conversation in Purpose on the creative process, our desire and need to connect with others, and the importance of owning how you express your story. We discuss what it means to talk about “being enough,” and how “being enough” relates to online dating, changing our lives, and of course, why you need to love and trust yourself.

Overcome Impostor Syndrome with Katie Benedetto Joneskatieb

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In this Conversation in Purpose, Katie Benedetto and I open up on the natural struggle that many creatives deal with: feeling undeserving, feeling like an impostor, feeling like we aren’t good enough to accept the good things that come our way. How do we overcome that? And how do we move forward from feeling unworthy?

sallyhSuccess is Bullshit with Sally Hope

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What does it mean to truly be successful? If life is about “the journey” and not “the destination,” what is the point of even thinking of an end goal? In this Conversation in Purpose, ex rock star turned rocking life coach Sally Hope pushes me to quit the rhetoric and get honest: if there are no real answers to life’s biggest questions and there is nowhere to “get,” why do we try so hard to get there?

 

Would you want to have your very own Conversation in Purpose with me?

Unfortunately, I’m no longer recording new Conversations in Purpose, but there’s good news.

I am currently booking new in-person workshops and teaching experiences through September 2014, which means that we can stage a sort of “Conversation in Purpose” of our own for your upcoming retreat, conference or event. If you’re more of the digital teacher, I’m also available for online seminars and digital workshops.

Some of my favorite workshop topics include:

  • Debunking the Biggest Myths, Misconceptions and Excuses about Writing
  • Tell Your Life’s Story in 100-Words or Less
  • 3 Ways to Turn Your Creative Journey Into It’s Own Reward
  • Using Yoga to Open Your Natural Creative Energy
  • How to Write Your Way to Self-Discovery and Lifelong Mission

Workshop participants tell me that after an experience with me they:

  • Feel like they can breathe again
  • Reconnect with their creative passions, and their sense of meaning
  • Have a new way of understanding themselves, and why they do what they do
  • Can articulate the natural parallels between their creative desires and life’s calling

Some of the dream locations I’m hoping to teach at in 2014 include:

  1. Southern California area (Los Angeles/San Diego)
  2. Chicago, IL
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. Toronto, Canada area
  5. Washington D.C. area
  6. Pacific Northwest area (Portland, OR/Seattle, WA)
  7. Wherever in the world there’s a tight community of highly motivated and determined creative types

If you’re interested in hosting me, reach out by clicking here.

Much like my Conversations in Purpose project, I depend on friends like you to host me and help set up regional events where you live.

I’m happy to shape an entirely customized experience to your audience, complete with worksheets, writing prompts and more. Your people will be raving about receiving a truly authentic, invigorating experience. We’ll leave every participant with fresh perspectives that will last a lifetime.

You can invite me to attend your event, or inquire for my availability to get our own conversation going.

Thank you, friend, and here’s to the year ahead!

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