Summit Series 2016: My Creative Recharge

Whoa. Have you ever had one of those incredibly inspirational experiences unlike anything else...and then abruptly go straight back into daily life?

That's what happened to me with Summit Series this year. 

It's been two weeks since we disembarked from the boat, but I am just now getting the chance to reflect on all the smile-inducing encounters I had during this year's experience. 

My Intention 

Having heard about this interesting community for a few years, I was curious to see if I would find new answers to the two questions that form the foundation of my life's work: 

  1. What activates collective intelligence?
  2. And how does that intelligence convert into action for the good of humanity?

As one of the premier places for our generation's movers and shakers, the event promised to be a golden opportunity to help me think about my work with teams and with couples in unique ways. 

Here are some of the nuggets I found on this year's boat ride. 

Wisdom from Elders

 Source Family members recall their glory days in the early 70s.

Source Family members recall their glory days in the early 70s.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Summit Series team for selecting elders to share their perspectives with us.

On the day after the election (which was a very weird and confusing day for a lot of us on the boat), the opening plenary featured two social movement activists from the 60s, Dolores Huerta and Sonia Sanchez. When asked if this moment in time reminded them of any other time in history, they recalled the election of Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War.

"Imagine a time when so many of your friends were dying in an unjust war and then a pro-war president gets elected," posed Huerta. "What could we do? We continued on. We continued writing, organizing, and working towards turning the tide - which we eventually did."

Their reflections helped me see recent events as part of a larger continuum. They encouraged us to channel our energies and talents in the same way that previous generations did to further the progression of humanity. 

A day later, I went deep with the Source Family members (featured in picture). This LA-based community of free thinkers shared communal living arrangements and adopted cutting-edge relational tools to push the boundaries on group dynamics. They were also the founders of The Source, LA's first vegetarian restaurant, and are credited with seeding the beginning of today's whole food movement.

And, yes, the group followed a religious "cult-like" figure, but the presenters were surprisingly level-headed about the things that worked well and didn't work so well within their community. I was especially intrigued by their abilities to use mindfulness to help them mitigate jealousy and conflict among housemates.

Pushing the Boundaries on Intimacy

 Esther Perel gives impromptu relationship advice with a small group after her talk. 

Esther Perel gives impromptu relationship advice with a small group after her talk. 

Summit Series invited some of the leading thinkers in intimacy and relationships on the boat, including David Deida, Esther Perel, and Christopher Ryan. Each speaker challenged our perceptions of what makes a "good marriage" and provoked us to think more creatively about how to cultivate raw, authentic connections with our partners. 

One particularly interesting nugget shared by Perel had to do with couples who are raising children together but who are no longer in love. Romantic partnership can be fickle. Without conscious care, these partnerships can easily fail - and that does not bode well for the children we bring into the world.

Instead of raising children with romantic partners, Perel proposed the idea of raising children with friends. It's a fascinating concept - and one that seems to make a lot of sense in today's evolving relationship landscape. 

I'll share more about their insights on the Epic Couples blog, but suffice it to say that we were all riveted by the invitation to think more expansively about the relationships we cultivate in our lives. 

Connecting with Rockstar Attendees

As amazing as the content was, connecting with attendees was even more inspiring. And I know I'm not the only person on the boat who felt that way. I overheard someone say, "I can watch these speakers on YouTube. Meeting people is way more valuable." I personally met about 20 new friends that literally blew my mind with their experiences and their vision for the future. 

And, yes, there were dance parties in the evening. But if you stayed out all night, then you likely were not lucid during the day. One of my new friends said, "The ROI of staying up between 2 and 5 am is pretty low." Unless, of course, it's the last night and Blondish throws down a tribal set and Bob Moses plays some new killer mixes in an intimate little bar tucked away in a small corner of the boat. Pure fun. 

The Next Chapter for Our Generation

As I experience more events like Summit where creative and soulful people converge, I've come to realize that collective intelligence is activated quite simply when we are intentional about activating it.

Something magical happened on that boat because we were intentional about having a powerful experience together. Without the typical distractions of daily life (no wifi) and buffered from the post-election noise, we were incubating the beginnings of new possibilities. 

Events like these accelerate our growth because they enable us to share a new vision of what's possible. We have the means to implement our ideas on a level that no other generation before us has had. And given the scale of the challenges ahead of us, we're going to need all the talents and resources we can muster. 

Thanks to Summit, we got a much-needed creative recharge.

Now let's go kick some ass!

Shannon Arvizu Hall