8 Things I Learnt At Yestival

1. YES = Opportunity And So Does ‘No’

No one is in any disagreement that Dave Cornthwaite is The Yes Man.

Photo credit: Dave Cornthwaite

Photo credit: Dave Cornthwaite

Yes to the opportunities that life throws at us and to acting on those wild dreams that occupy our mind when we find ourselves absent mindedly gazing out of the window at work, at home or while travelling. 

Dave Cornthwaite is a special human who inspires, encourages and helps those who are looking for an alternative to the life that conventional society has expected us to lead. Say Yes. Make Life More Memorable.

I believe Dave is definitely onto something. We should be saying yes to those big things that makes our hearts sing and the small things that fill our stomach with flurries of butterflies. It is our life to live. No one elses.

However, as Rob Young highlighted, we also need to practice saying No. No isn’t to be seen as a limiting phrase, that puts a stop to us realising our dreams. Rather it should be seen as a word that brings us freedom and enables us to act on our dreams, allowing us to bring them into being.

Saying No to some things, allows us to say a big fat Yes to the experiences that make our life worth living, that bring us fulfilment and happiness. 

By saying No we can rid ourselves of the distractions and focus on making our life more memorable, so when we come to be reminiscing as we rock back and forth on our porch, we can look back at all of our wonderful memories we were able to create. A poo story may even make an experience, as many did over the weekend!

The video below pretty much sums the philosophy of Yestival.

2. Time Is Our Most Precious Commodity

Money is what we need to survive and it certainly helps usto make life more memorable, but it is our time we should be counting.

We should not be concentrating with filling our bank accounts with the promises that money holds, but focusing on filling our time with living life to the full kind of experiences! 

Our time, both past, present and future should be bursting with adventure, happiness, fulfilment and love. 

Over the weekend, the speakers taught me that life’s great adventures are all about love. The love that we spread to family, friends and the people that we’ve never met on the other side of the world and to our precious life-supporting planet. 

Our life is much bigger than ourselves, more so than we can contemplate and we should try to honour this through our thoughts and actions, whether that’s thinking of our use of single -use plastic or helping others through sharing our stories. 

We are all part of a jigsaw and the more we connect with each other and work together as a loving, positive, optimistic family, the more beautiful and wonderful we will help create.

Our time should be spent connecting with more pieces of this giant puzzle of life and enhancing it’s beauty, both ours and the whole worlds. For to help the world become even more extraordinary, we must first make our inner selves feel and be extraordinary.

We now have 364 days till the next Yestival, how are you going to fill your time? 

Last year someone suggested putting together a Yes List and I LOVE this idea, so I will be coming up with mine soon! What will yours look like?

Photo credit: Ben Arthur

Photo credit: Ben Arthur


3. Finding Your Tribe

Driving away from Yestival dreaming of a steaming hot bath, I suddenly came to the realisation that I don’t belong to just one tribe, but am fortunate to belong to many!

I’ve always tried to fit into one place, but actually, I fit into many! And this is what Yestival also celebrates, different tribes and people all around the world saying yes more to doing things and creating a more wonderful world!

Photo credit: Ben Arthur

Photo credit: Ben Arthur

For me, I feel I have a fun, positive, loving and supportive place within the Yes Tribe, but also with the Project Awesome crew, Explorers Connect community, the Escape Club, Tough Girl Tribe and a few more!

Connecting and chatting to people within these tribes and introducing people to these communities is really exciting and fun. I have always felt an outsider, the odd one out for wanting a life a little less ordinary, but by meeting all of these wonderful people across different tribes, who also have a place in all of them, and making awesome memories with them, has made me feel invincible! 

Due to the great support and amazing positivity I have received from tribe members, I have felt confident in pursuing my ambitions of adventure, both the outdoor and indoor kind!

Outdoors, I feel confident in chasing my dream of becoming an iron man athlete, which will hopefully be in October! I’m also creating a startup called Lilly Wild with aim of being the guide to clothing, gear and urban escape for courageous explorers, with a focus on women.

When chatting with peers outside of these communities, I am met with grumbles and many naysayers. But with the wonderful Yes people, I am cheered on! They have shown that they have faith in me and believe in me and they’ve shared their skills with me. I only hope that I can do the same for others and continue the circle of the awesome Yes Karma.

4. Wellbeing & Health Is Numero Uno

I’ve struggled with health and wellbeing my entire life, from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to chronic gut conditions and recurring unitary tract infections. 

Yestival has taught me that I should be brave and be more vulnerable, because sharing these stories can have powerful impacts on others. Whether that’s making them feel able more comfortable to express the challenges they’re currently facing to ask for help, or making others aware of the difficulties some people face and therefore empowering them to help. Both Chris Miller and John Dennis did a fantastic job at this.

John Dennis has also created a charity called Dare2Express with a mission to raise awareness of depression, trauma and mental illness and help as many people as possible. Sometimes the path is long, windy and very lonely, but there is no need to do it on your own.  

His charity has also just released a song which is awesome! Check it out here.

I’ve learnt the hard that our wellbeing and health is of number 1 priority and it doesn’t show weakness to ask for help, but shows strength.

5. Do The Things That Scare You

Sarah Williams, presenter of the Tough Girl Podcast, spoke of all of the lessons that she has learnt from interviewing 50 outstanding women who have overcome incredible challenges.

Sarah said that the majority all had one thing in common: that they were scared, but through perseverance, determination, hard work, ambition and guts, they conquered their fear by facing that tough challenge.

These women have taught Sarah that success comes from facing your fear and overcoming your obstacle. However, success comes in many forms. It doesn't always mean achieving your target.  Sometimes you have to turn around from your summit, even when it’s in grasping distance, due to certain circumstances, but this is not a failure, but a success. You must celebrate each success, no matter how small, for you have overcome your challenge and (hopefully!) had fun!

6. ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ - Ryan Holiday

The best path to take is often the most bumpy or the one that is clouded with mist. Even the best thought out plan can sometimes be foiled with an unexpected bump in the road or sudden loss of visibility.

The obstacles are simply testing you. They arrive to make sure that you really, really, really want what you’re going after. 

When chasing a big goal, your comfort zone will be stretched and you will be challenged to push beyond your present limits.

Sarah Williams spoke of how she burnt out when training for the Marathon Des Sables, arguably the toughest footrace in the world, but she rested, had faith and persevered. The following year she completed the race, fitter and stronger than ever before.

So you better get used to that uncomfortable feeling and most importantly, enjoy the ride! For If life was always smooth, flat and straight - where would the fun be in that?! I always relish the downward slope after an uphill slog, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as exhilarating and beautiful if I hadn’t climbed hard first!

7. Start Small

After a weekend or an evening of listening to people who have conquered their fears, surmounted almost impossible challenges and achieved incredible adventures, it can feel overwhelming.

I know I felt overwhelmed on my drive home, thinking of what I wanted to achieve, the huge metaphorical mountain ahead of me and I was just wondering how on earth they managed to fit it all in and how I was going to!!!

But this thinking is dangerous. You should never compare yourself to others. I believe everyone has their own unique path to follow and we all get to where we’re meant to be at different speeds and different times. You just have to do what feels right for you.

To me this means chunking that almost insurmountable mountain into delicious bite size pieces and doing the best I can in each day. For all those small actions and steps that you complete will add up to achieving the summit of that one mahussive mountain, but this way without the fear of failure or overwhelm paralysing you!

Small successes = big successes. I’m going to fill my 2016-2017 Yes List up with lots of small tasks that I can tick off relatively easily and that will add up to a bigger goal that I’m chasing. I will also celebrate each success with as much enthusiasm as the last.

8. Listen to your intuition

Jo Pickard’s talk stood out for me: Trust your gut and act on what it’s telling you, because it’s always right.

If you are feeling resistance from your gut or it's screaming ‘YES!’ and you can feel the fire burning within you, then pay attention and try and figure out what it is telling you. 

If you're gut is shouting at you to just go and do it, but you are surrounded by naysayers, try and drown them out and surround yourself with positive people full of laughter, love and encouragement! Because at the end of the day, who knows you better than you?

Photo credit: Waheed Khan

Photo credit: Waheed Khan

So balance The Yes's with No’s and go out there, be awesome and make life more memorable, remember that the small steps count and create the momentum you desire to live the life you love!

Dave's and the Say Yes Mores Social Hangouts

Facebook; Say Yes More / The Yes Tribe / Dave Cornthwaite

Twitter; @yesisadoingword 

Website; Say Yes More / Dave Cornthwaite


Listen to the Tough Girl Podcast here

Photo credits; Ben Arthur / Waheed Khan