Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]
Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]
Krishna Kaur is the founder of YOGA for Youth, a program that takes yoga, meditation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. [www.yogaforyouth.org]
Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]
Leilani Münter is a professional race car driver and an environmental activist who uses her voice in the number one spectator sport in America as a catalyst for change. [www.leilanimunter.com]
By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery’s penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]
Sophie Chiche, founder of lifebyme.com, is the single mom of an amazing 16-year-old, Leah, and wicked step-mom of 22-year-old, Sarah. They all live in LA. You can find them boxing, cooking, collaging, hosting brunches, laughing their head off or bickering over who’s washing and who’s drying the dishes.
Entrepreneur and writer Mastin Kipp founded TheDailyLove.com, which merges pop culture with inspiration, and co-founded The Love Yourself Company, an apparel company that has started a global self-esteem movement. [www.TheDailyLove.com]
Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who address some of the world's most pressing problems. He works energetically for human-rights and in his ministry. [www.tutu.org]
Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. [www.womenforwomen.org]
Despite his physical challenges, Sean Stephenson has taken a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world. He’s a professional speaker, psychotherapist, and author. [www.timetostand.com]
Kia Miller teaches Yoga at Yoga Works in Los Angeles, leads teacher trainings, and runs retreats and workshops on meditation, chakras, pranayam, and mantras, and other practices. [www.kiamiller.com]
Simon Mainwaring is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director at Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger, Australian, idea geek. [www.simonmainwaring.com]
Shannon Bindler is a style editor, life coach, and the co-founder of Get Up Girl, an empowerment company that inspires women to shine. [www.getupgirl.com]
Grammy-nominated art director/designer/photographer Mathieu Bitton has designed over 450 CDs and movie posters. He’s a renowned collector of and authority on black films and their soundtracks. [www.candytangerine.com]
Opus Reps founder and agent-producer Jorge Perez travels the world producing photo shoots with great photographers and celebrities. He's also very involved with Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles. www.opusreps.com
If you’d asked me what I was passionate about, I would’ve said “conflict.” That might seem a bit off when you consider the suffering in war-torn countries or the misery of divorcing couples, but I have a strange belief in the power of discord. I don’t like it – I find disagreement risky and dangerous – but I also know conflict’s critical importance and at its core I find tremendous meaning.
I can’t recall a time when I became better without being messed with. Sometimes conflict appears as a bit of internal struggle, like when a teacher presents information I haven’t considered before. Those are the easy gifts of growth, where I’m disrupted, I shift, and I quickly return to stability. Yet, the big battles, the experiences that rip my identity or my life apart, have held the most potential.
My husband calls me a storm chaser because I get strangely excited when someone recounts a midlife crisis, a furious sibling, or a battle with illness. Those situations are lousy – my chest and throat often ache when witnessing someone’s pain – yet I’m bolstered by seeing the victim now standing at the doorway of amazing possibility. It’s terrifyingly fantastic.
I’m not drawn to the lightning or gusts of an emotional hurricane, but instead to what lies at its axis. Conflict is a fabulous container for paradox. It’s where the best worst things happen. In conflict, we become wretchedly beautiful. In the eye of the tempest, irreconcilable opposites are no longer. It’s the place of up-down, light-dark, and you-me that Carl Jung called “the transcendent function.” Our adversaries push us to see a bigger, chaotically perfect reality where more belongs. Turmoil crafts a space where each side can be right and wrong, where everyone provides a critical, yet always incomplete, view of the whole. Conflict’s crucible has afforded me my greatest glimpses of a Larger Unity, or what some might call the Divine or the Tao.
I must admit that this month when a friend called, angry with me, I wasn’t thrilled. Yet, after so many years of conflict research, observation, and personal experience, I also deeply trusted that the disruption held potential salvation. “Suit up,” I told myself and headed toward the gale. I went looking for the center and what I’ve found to be my most direct path Home.
- Deidre Combs
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