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Now that the dust has settled, the lines have dispersed, and the BBQ has been digested, it’s time to point out some highlights from SXSW.

The Austin music and arts festival kicked off with an amazing keynote speech from Selma director Ava DuVernay, who served the crowd some jewels that could very well change their – and our – lives.

Ava Duvernay

We pulled out some of the highlights from Ava’s speech, so take a look and get schooled below.

Her Habit: Ava writes down five things she’s grateful for at the present moment. This is a habit she picked up from Oprah and it helps her out tremendously. In case you were wondering, her list included a quiet dark flight without any babies crying, a clean hotel room, and a friend to entertain her with funny stories.

The intention of her attention: For creatives, it’s the cause that produces the effect and the effect is our lives. We have to pay attention to the intention of our attention, because it can throw our life into chaos. Every thought we give our attention to is motivated by our intention. So we should ask ourselves – what exactly is our initial intention?

Ava Duvernay

Dream bigger than yourself: During the making of her first two films, Ava became obsessed with her intention, but in reality, she set the bar too low. It made her learn to dream bigger than just herself. If your dream only helps you, it’s too small.

None of this shit really matters: Just because you achieve it, doesn’t meet you’re growing from it. “The Oscars is just a room in L.A. and it’s nice, but it’s doesn’t determine the worth of my work,” she said. Winning awards won’t necessarily give you the joy you want – even if it might look like success from the outside. The key gem: “If we limit our vision to those things outside of us to validate us, we are making an intentional error that might very well bring the outside thing you want, but it will ring hollow in the end.”

It’s a hell of a thing to get everything you wanted. It’s OK to feel the moment and be nervous by the light and attention that you’re facing. So Ava put aside her ego for something bigger. She figured that out by looking into the eyes of the people who survived Selma and went into making the movie with one thought: Serve this story. For Ava, Selma was an experience and an offering.

It’s OK to be motivated by fear. The fear of messing up the story of Selma helped her focus on telling it the best way she possibly could.

Ava Duvernay

Don’t ask for approval. Ava dropped a perfect quote from Gary Zukav: “When the sun shines, it doesn’t ask, ‘how did I do today?’ It just shines.”

Be yourself. “When you’re in your lane, there is no traffic.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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