3 Life Lessons Learned at What If Cancun (+1 Bonus Lesson from Josh)

There was a time when we attended conferences strictly to learn how to grow our business. And while we still want to learn how to grow our business, we're much more interested in attending the kinds of conferences that help us grow as people and help us grow our community. I think that's why the What If Conference (and community) has been so important to us in the last three years. The speakers are great and the classes are great, but it doesn't stop there. So much of our growth and learning happens outside of the classroom. 

We just returned from a week in Cancun for What If 2015. And just like the last two What If conferences, we came home with full hearts and feeling so inspired and excited to do work that matters and to become the best versions of ourselves possible. I also came home with a sinus infection, but that's another story!

Being part of such an amazing community of world changers is hard to put into words. It's hard to explain exactly why the What If Conference is so different from anything else we've ever been a part of. All I can say is that I am closer to being the true, authentic version of me because I am part of this family. This community gets me in a very deep and real way... and I get them in the same way. I learned so much about life and about myself last week and I want to share just a few of those lessons with you today.

1. Last Saturday, a large group of us visited Xel-Ha, where we got to snorkel and play and cliff jump. My friend Jen was scared to do the cliff jumping. It took her several times of trying before she made it off the cliff. But then she jumped again. And again. She told me "I'm going to keep jumping off the cliff until I'm not scared any more." And that just resonated with me so much. So often in life, we run away from the things that scare us, whether the fear is big or little, real or imagined. But here was Jen, literally running with arms wide open right toward her fear. And all I could think to myself was, "Wow, I want to live like that." And I was reminded of my first What If when my friend Jennifer told me to conquer fear, you must "Recognize it, own it, then overcome it." And I think Jen discovered a great way to tackle the overcoming of fear... Keep doing it until you're not scared any more.

2.  At Xel-Ha, we got to go snorkeling, which I just loved so much! My friend Jim is a snorkeling master and he was teaching a few of us how to dive down to the bottom to see the fish better. I dove a couple times and got almost to the bottom. On my third dive, Jim pushed me down. There was a murkiness to the water that I still don't quite understand, but as I got closer to the ocean floor, all of a sudden, the water was crystal clear and there were fish swimming right in front of my face! That, in and of itself was a really amazing experience. But as I thought more and more about my time at What If last week, I realized that there was a much deeper lesson here. Sometimes we really have to dive deep to see things clearly. We build walls and we make the water murky to hide who we really are. But what is below all of that is really incredible and beautiful. And sometimes, we need a push from a friend to help us see that. And it reminded me so much of what my friend Lauren said about how important it is to honor your true, authentic self. One thing I've been focusing on for a few years now is being authentic and being happy with who I am. And there's still more work to be done, but I'm grateful to have many friends who are giving me the push I need to continue working towards that.

3.  The last day of the conference also happened to be my birthday. I was so so excited to spend my birthday surrounded by such a large group of people who love me. I had high hopes and expectations and, uncharacteristically for me, I voiced every one of them throughout the day. Much to my surprise and excitement, my friends delighted in making my birthday wishes (trivial as they were) come true. Beach time, pool time, birthday shots, fish tacos, mango tangos, cake and candles, and a dance party. Every time I asked, they delivered with love. The result is that not only did I have the best birthday I've ever had, but I learned that it's okay to ask for what I want or need. And it's okay to let others take care of me and love me, because I'm worth it.

Photo credit: Vidyuta

Josh's Bonus Lesson - One of my favorite things about What If is that we take the time to Do More during the conference. In the Dominican, we visited a school and painted murals, jumped rope and brought lots of art supplies along to brighten their day. In Yarnell last year, we spent a day helping a town that was ravaged by a fire clean up, move things around, work in the garden, etc. This year, we got to go to a drug and alcohol rehab facility and the men built a new roof and cleaned up while the women painted the dormitories and did arts and crafts with the women. My biggest take away from all of my time spent Doing More is this. Just show up. Be present for people, however you can and love them well. While building the roof, I met Tio, a man who's going to, according to him, die at this facility. His family is all passed away and he has nowhere to go. So I gave him a job helping me hoist the roof panels up. I looked him in the eye. I let him know he mattered. For a few hours, we saw each other. Another story from my time at the rehab facility... I brought a pack of Mini Encouragement cards to be left in all the care packages we left there. During art time, they started passing them out, and while the cards are in English, my friend, Natalie, got to tell me about how excited the women got as she translated all the messages to Spanish for them. What was really amazing about the whole story is that Natalie didn't know the words for "You Matter" so she got to explain the concept and watch the ladies light up. I heard from them you could see the light shining through their eyes. Again, show up, love people well. It's really that simple.

There are so many more stories and lessons to share and I will be sharing them over the coming week on our personal instagram --> http://instagram.com/thesolars and you can search for the #thisisWhatIf hashtag on IG to see what others are saying about What If.

Jenny Solar


Jenny Solar

@jen – Feeling’s mutual! Love you, friend!

@mike – Love you, brother.

@katie – you should join us at the next What If!

Jenny Solar

Thank you for encouraging Ryan and I to go to WhatIf last year!!! You and Josh are amazing friends and I loved all the What If adventures we shared these past 2 years. Thanks for sharing so many amazing lessons you got from this trip— and glad my cliff jumping was one of them. xoxoxox

Jenny Solar

So beautifully written Jenny. Thank you for sharing this. Having been at What If 2015, I felt like I was able to experience it all over again.

Jenny Solar

I love this Jenny! Beautiful message and sounds like a fantastic experience. Happy belated birthday.

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