Bringing back some humanity

You can’t ask without permission. And you don’t get permission without trust. There is no trust without attention.

Doing something really stupid will get you lots of attention. But it doesn’t earn trust. So find your smallest, sustainable market and give something back. Make something without asking for anything in return. It’s a gift. An act of generosity. Do it because you have something to contribute.

Start small. If you are looking to change a million people, it wont happen if you can’t change ten. If it’s good maybe, they will tell ten friends. The word spreads. Be aware that no product, good or service is for everybody. Just make it for somebody. Make it with love.

In a world that is stripping us of humanity, bring some of it back. Its not give, give, give and then take. No, its give, give, give, ask.

The spirit of human endurance

Our environment dicates most of the decisions we make. “Good people” can make bad decisions in a poor environment. “Bad people” can make good decisions in a rich environment. Malcolm Gladwell cites the Good Samaritan Study to explain how simply opening more time up in your day will affect how willing you are to help someone who needs to be helped.

It’s true. Extreme poverty and political unrest have cripple many people in their environment. Imagine being blindfolded, gagged and tied to a chair. What choices are left?

I think we always have one available to us. It’s our ability to choose our attitudes. We still have the ability to discern what is right and wrong despite our circumstances, despite our environment.

Viktor Frankl has beautifully pointed this out in his essential book, Man’s Search for Meaning, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

That is the spirit of human endurance. It’s not, “What can life offer me?” No. It’s, “What can I offer life?” Whatever it is you are trying to overcome, it won’t be over in an instance. It’s a marathon not a sprint. So figure out where it is you are going to put the tired.

If you have a laptop and an internet connection, you have more power than you think. You have the ability to choose your own way.

Don’t let what you know get in the way of what you can imagine

Human beings are story-telling creatures. We are all born naked and afraid in different times, different places, different circumstances, different cultures. Along the way we start telling ourselves different stories about the paths we cross, the people we meet, the strings we pull, the choices we make to make sense of the world around us.

At one point, we knew the world was flat. And we knew that we were the center of the universe. And we knew it was impossible to run a 4-minute mile. And we knew that smoking did not cause cancer.

Then we didn’t know.

We were wrong. So the arch shifts to a higher order of thinking. We move to a new plane. We can see. And now, we know again.

We don’t like to admit it but we are wrong all the time. We let what we know get in the way of what we can imagine. Until a revolution comes to destroy the perfect and enable the impossible.

Be clever, but more importantly, be kind

Are you trying to be right or do you want to make the change you are seeking to make?

Too often, the reason we are stuck in our organizations, our teams, our families is we are busy trying to prove people wrong.

You can’t eat your cake and have it too. We can’t be right and get what we want.

It’s difficult to change people’s minds. Impossible if you want them to be wrong too.

We have spent too much time building our walls to insulate us and protect us to have someone come in and tear them down. Expect confrontation.

So what point are you trying to make? What game is it you are playing? What is it you are trying to accomplish?

Because respect starts with kindness. It starts with small simple acts of generosity. We don’t need to keep score of the wins or loses. Leave that to haters who want to hate.

Being clever will get you pretty far in life. It is important to be clever, but more importantly, it’s better to be kind.

It’s a metaphor

calvin-hobbes-metaphor-for-life

I have met a lot of people who say they are “busy.” Apparently, everyone is busy. We are busy taking care of our families, friends, spouses, children, the poor, the needy, the hungry, the sick, the elderly, the less fortunate…

When we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life we don’t see the people around us for who they are—as people—and we forget to treat them as such. We end up treating them as obligations.

People are not something we have to deal with. No, we get to interact with them. Too often, we think what we need to do to take care of those around us is to pay our bills, file our taxes, bring home more money, get good grades, finish our assignments on time, improve our accuracy.

If we are busy filling our time with things we need to do and miss out on things we get to do, what is the point of the busy?

If we are going to get better at juggling our busy lives, we need to remember: It’s not how you catch the ball, it’s how you throw it. It’s about setting yourself up for the next thing that comes your way. And there will always be something else that comes.

When we are out of balance, it’s because we haven’t put enough time in the things we get to do. We are not focused on letting go of the things that don’t actually matter.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to acquire some money. But where are you: Do you have to? Need to? Want to? Or get to?

Well, let’s be clear. We have to, need to, want to and get to look people in the eye and embrace them for who they are and help them become the person it is they are trying to become. Our humanity depends on it. Not whether we make another sale. Sure, we need to make some money. But let enough be what it is…enough.

Pen to paper

Our ability to act, to be an agent of change starts when we put the pen to paper. Nothing happens until we decide what kind of story we are going to write, what kind of person we are going to be.

The greatest asset each and every one has is our ability to act.

We don’t have to wait for the world to pick us. We have the ability to pick ourselves and do whatever it is that needs to be done.

We can make something that needs to be made. We can help someone who needs to be helped. We can look someone in the eye and tell them you are here for them. We can share the burdens of others. We can lift each other up. Stand up against inequality or injustice. We can love the un-lovable. We can show more generosity and respect. We can be quicker to forgive each other. We can elevate the conversation. We can help the poor, the needy, the hungry, the sick, the afflicted.

Not because it’s our job. Not because we are getting paid. Not because someone told us to do it. No, we are doing it because it matters. We are doing it because it creates meaning. We do it because we want to make a culture we can all be proud of.

So what are your going to do when it is your turn?

(It’s always your turn.)