The buzz reached me at the beginning of 2017 – Hive Global Leaders Program. Apply now! The red background and white logo intrigued me. It had been a while since my blood ran hot for what I was doing.
The goal, it said, was to discover our purpose. I’m almost 46, and I feel fairly secure in mine. The nutshell is this: to write and make a difference.
I’ve become accustomed to being regularly rejected from programs and fellowships; my successes have arrived after months or years of pain and bootstrapping and at times feeling very alone. I hoped for a miracle, but expected to be passed over when I sent my application.
Two days later, a fantastic email came from Community Manager Christine Juang: Congratulations! You’ve been accepted! I was on my way to Hive 14 in Boston.
The program from beginning to end is a series of “above and beyond” moments. The first night was a gathering dinner by the Boston Bay. I was eager to meet the 119 other Hivers from 49 nations, and once I reached the actual site of the dinner, a young man in a Hive tee shirt greeted me and asked me what was my purpose and passion. His eyes lit up as I described my creative projects, and if he was not genuinely interested, he deserves an Oscar for acting, because I believed my story was one of the most amazing things he had heard all day.
More than a conference or seminar, in this experience, we were each really cared for. The pinnacle of the first night was meeting our small groups. Mine had the U.S. represented: Louisiana, Texas, Massachusetts and Iowan me, plus our leader from California, along with a South African, two Nigerians, etc. I had fear, because I am a survivor of mental disorder and trauma. I thought I had to cover this up, but when our group gathered by the bay to share the crucible story of our lives in three minutes, I found that we all were all more alike than we were different. A woman from Africa had experienced abuse. Another lived with a chronic illness. And three others in our group struggled at times with mind and emotion.
While compassion, vision, and genius aren’t limited to those with outrageous minds, it also seems to be common in the kinds of visionaries who were chosen for this program. Hive draws extensively on mindfulness, and meditation with an experienced leader is a part of each day.
I had the chance to meet, work and collaborate with people from El Salvador, Costa Rica, Pakistan, Chicago, Azerbaijan, New York, Columbia, Cameroon, India, Texas, Gabon, Vietnam, South Africa, Georgia, and dozens of other places.
Hive has a statement of universal rights and ethics upon which we build our purposes. The leaders were chosen not just on high ability but on proven passion to make the world better, and in some cases to work to save it. Equality, equanimity, empathy only begin to describe it.
Then Tom Chi from GoogleX came in and taught us to rapidly prototype an idea. It’s great to be a visionary, but how can we bring the idea to the point of user experience in the shortest time? Rapid prototyping could change the course of the world, because what separated the global leaders I met from the everyday highly intelligent and altruistic individual was this drive to stop talking and start doing.
Many if not most people in this program have suffered, fallen, and been struck by tragedy along the way, and all have found the strength to get up again.
Some have traveled an extraordinary path from adversity to what is called effortless flow. The concept does not mean you don’t have to put treble effort into what you do; it means once you’ve achieved mastery (which is not a static or finite condition), the next levels will come with effortless flow.
Founders Ryan Allis and Sam Lazarus met at Harvard Business School and created the conference or leadership program they wished they had experienced. They read feedback from participants and incorporate it into future sessions. Ryan tells a powerful crucible story that creates more connection and emotion in being part of Hive, and narrates his passion for helping others find and live their purposes. Sam, along with community director Aldi Kaza and Christine Juang, mentioned above, provide a consistent presence throughout the three days and make the effort to know who you are and not just greet, but connect with you by name.
I will save some events as surprises, and I believe every Hive is a little different. I don’t think you’ve fully lived until you’re at a dance party at an amazing venue, dancing to world music in many languages with one of the most diverse groups of people you’re likely to meet.
We went away from the life-changing three days together with a life plan — for 90 days, one year, ten years — the tools to rapidly prototype our dreams, businesses, plans and lives, the answer to the question, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” and a lifelong community of friends, brothers and sisters, collaborators and colleagues whom we can lean on for support, to whom we can (and want to) offer support, and who will remind us of who we are in the course of building the earth.
I connect with our Hive group on social media and a What’sApp group daily. Several of us have started a writing/accountability group so that we continue creating. A movement that started in South Africa is expanding to Eurasia. A new Hive in a new part of the world is starting because of this group, and the people involved are bringing their diverse gifts to it in a big way.
I believe with conviction in my purpose, and cannot wait to see what the next decade brings as I build a team and reach for the outlandish yet not impossible goals in my plan.
I tried to balance this by discussing the downsides of Hive that I observed. I wish it had been longer so I could get to know more of our cohort better. I wish we could be housed in the same place so that we could do more outside of the Hive activities. There were meet ups at restaurants and at one member’s creativity center that went late into the night, which I did not attend simply due to residual exhaustion from travel and my own status as an INFP (on the Myers-Briggs scale) and having a high need to recharge. I brought my authentic self, ready for anything, did my own mindfulness meditation each morning before arriving at the sites, and I think that’s why there was not one segment I disliked, nor one activity that caused me discomfort.
This is life changing. If you’re ready to go and do something to build the earth, I hope you will apply.