Last week I went to a conference in Portland.

This was not just any conference. This was the World Domination Summit.

What is WDS, you ask?

The World Domination Summit was started 9 years ago by a man named Chris Guillebeau, author of the book “The Art of Nonconformity.” The purpose of WDS is to “help people live remarkable lives in a conventional world.”

As you might expect, this was not a normal conference. There were explosions, magicians, breakdancers, an “Alice in Wonderland” themed picnic, and even a guy in a ridiculous dinosaur suit. I went into WDS not having any clue of what to expect, and that’s probably a good thing. Any expectations I had would not have lived up to reality.

But aside from the fun atmosphere and literal smoke and mirrors, WDS also had a lot of real meaty wisdom and lessons to impart. Some of them were very specific; some more general life lessons. I won’t bore you with the specifics, but I think the more general wisdom might be very helpful.

So here are 3 life lessons I learned this year from the World Domination Summit:

1. Fear can be very useful.

One of the most consistent character traits across all of humanity is a desire to avoid fear. Sometimes we go so very far out of our way, just to avoid any sort of situation that makes us afraid. This is why people don’t travel, don’t learn new hobbies, don’t take risks at work. We’re afraid of failing, afraid of looking stupid, afraid of people thinking we don’t belong there.

But we forget how very closely linked fear and excitement are. A goal that doesn’t scare you also won’t excite you. And if you’re not excited about a goal, how will you get others excited about it?

Instead of running away from scary things, run towards them. Fear usually means you’re on the right track.

2. Our problems aren’t our fault, but they are our responsibility.

This one hit me right between the eyes.

I’ve been hit with more crap over the last 5 years than you could ever imagine. Seriously, my life would make a really good soap opera. I can’t make this stuff up!

And if I’m honest, some of it has really gotten to me. I’ve had whole days – sometimes whole weeks or even months – when I’ve wanted to wallow in my self-pity. When I’ve been angry at the world because of what was happening to me and refused to go out into it because I felt too sorry for myself.

And it’s true that most of my current problems are definitely not my fault. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do something about it. All of us have the responsibility to make the most of the cards we’ve been given.

Or, to put it more succinctly: Shit happens. Suffering is a choice.

3. When we embrace our flaws, scars, and awkwardness, they become our superpowers.

The things that made you weird in high school make you awesome now.

Isn’t this so true?!? When I was in high school I was a shy bookworm who loved reading and learning. These things were the cause of a lot of teasing back then. As an adult, however, it’s those very same traits that have helped me build a successful business and a life that I love.

Don’t avoid your weirdness. Don’t try to hide your flaws. Embrace them. Relish them. They make you who you are. And who you are is pretty awesome.