Finish lines

When starting a project, it’s helpful to work backwards from the finish line.

Finish lines indicate how hard should we push.

Finish lines give us an indication what we should prepare for: is this a sprint or a marathon? 

The problem is we have a problem following through with consist effort until the end.

Being tired at mile 23 is totally different if you only have one more mile to go instead of 77.

The question then becomes How will you finish?

Finish lines are useful until they get in the way. 

Because the goal is to never finish. The goal is to keep playing as long as you can and as best you can.

Finishing a goal is different than arriving to a destination.

Falling out of love with the labels we make

Who are you?

Because you are not a honor student, a CEO of a Fortune 500 or a writer…

Those are just labels.

If we stripped those away, what are you left with?

At the bottom of the mountain, you may associate or be seen as the honor student, the CEO or the writer. But at the top of the mountain, you are none of those things.

As much as we try, there is nothing static about people. Conditions are always changing. What was once today, doesn’t mean so tomorrow.

You can’t make a single label stick.

The problem with chalking things up to coincidence

Is it a coincidence when you think about someone you haven’t seen in years only to have them call you that day?

Or maybe you thought of 99 other people that week, and by chance one of them actually called?

Coincidence is a story we tell ourselves and how we see the world. 

Sometimes collisions occur. Bad things happen to good people. It’s part of the tax we pay for operating in a disorganized world. 

The way we talk about coincidence though, you would think there is a cosmic roulette wheel spinning, just waiting for our number to be pulled…

The world operates on probabilities. And it is no coincidence that people live on miracles.

Embrace more collisions

Human beings have this incredible ability to avoid running into each other.

We work so hard to create order in a disorderly world, to have clarity in obscurity and to have a plan for what’s to come next.

Yet, collisions still occur. Accidents cannot ever be completely avoided.

Ideas work the same way. We work extremely hard to avoid views different from ours. We follow the rules and etiquette of the people around us. Swim with the current. Follow the pack.

Human beings avoid running into conflicting views of the self so that we can preserve our way of being.

But what would happen if we sought out the different, the weird and the unusual? What would happen if we heard something that conflicted with our core?

Could we sit with that tension?

It’s a good thing we can avoid each other going 80 on the freeway. Ideas, on the other hand, can conflict without any harm.

Your status-quo is what you believe, say, think and do. Conflicting ideas are what challenge our worldview, so that we can smash it.

Closing the door to ideas deemed impossible just because it conflicts with our current worldview isn’t going to bring us the forward motion we need to make a difference.

The idea virus: A brief look at the epidemic of Utah teen suicide rates

In Utah, the leading cause of death for 10-17-year-olds is suicide. 

Let that sink in for a moment.

I am often asked, “Why does this keep happening?”

The challenge is the way ideas spread. Sticky ideas move from one person to the next like a virus.

Malcolm Gladwell describes this in his brilliant book, The Tipping Point, on how ideas penetrate the masses like epidemics.

The first thing we must see is:

Social movements, like how rumors spread, or smoking, and yes, suicide, rely on “three agents of change.” These agents are attributed with 80% of the work of spreading an idea while only representing 20% of the population.

These three influencers are:

Connectors – people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions.

Mavens – people we rely upon to connect us with new information.

Salesman – people who can persuade us.

The second thing we need to understand is:

Teenagers in the back of their minds struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation. And when you factor in these agents of change making suicide appear to be a viable option, you have the environment to tip the scales.

It’s like standing on a street corner, most of us in the back of our mind think about jaywalking. But we hesitate, until we see someone else do it. It gives us “permission” to follow.

When you combine these two factors, ideas have a way of spreading quickly. Even if there is no intention to do so.

The idea virus isn’t the only explanation of why we are where we are (biology, chemicals in the brain, culture…there are a plethora of reasons, some of which are out of our control). But it does offer one of the best explanations of how these ideas continue spread across the masses.

[There is always someone to talk to. In addition, Pivot Adventure helps students develop a compass to navigate through life’s challenges. We are putting an end to the teen suicide epidemic.]

Being more does not necessarily equate to doing more

At times, we must muster up the courage to hold on to this tension of not knowing what it is we are to do next and resist doing things for the sake of doing.

It’s frightening to sit and wait, to dance with this fear and to tell the critics, “Not yet.”

Not yet because we are pondering, testing, measuring, considering all of the options available.

Not because we are afraid of being wrong. Because we are professionals.

Professionals learn to seek out and hold this tension. The amateur is working to make it go away as soon as possible.

Professionals set deadlines

Today, this blog post was due.

Tomorrow, there’s another one that needs to be published. 

Professionals set deadlines not because it is convenient. No, it’s because we don’t want to end up as someone else.

An amateur.

Or as Zig Ziglar liked to say, “A wondering generality instead of a meaningful specific.”

Professionals understand that projects are never perfect.

So, they set goals to make it good enough (as close to perfect as possible) until money runs dry or time runs out.

Deadlines creates urgency to ship. That tension gets the Professional off the bench and into the game.