50-50 relationships are practical on paper but lousy in practice

50-50 relationships usually don’t last. The thing is, relationships are not built on reciprocity, this for that. No, they are built on generosity. You have to be willing to reach further than the middle to makeup for the faults of others.

Even Steven just doesn’t work when we are talking about fallibility of people.

100% relationships, however, the kind where someone is willing to reach all away across, the kind where both parties are willing to forgive when none is required, those are rare.

Instead of choosing to reach half way, go the extra mile.

What can one person do?

For ten years during the Aids Epidemic, Ruth Coker Burks would go on to take care of hundreds of patients who were dying of Aids. 

She didn’t have permission or the authority, she didn’t have the education or training, or even the resources to do this work. 

She showed up when no one else would. 

That act was sufficient.

The medical community didn’t even know how to treat people with Aids, and to make matters worse, families were abandoning these patients. 

Against all odds, Ruth Coker Burks’ patients were living two years longer than the national average.

How is that possible?

Because Burks treated these patients as human beings. She gave them hope, dignity and respect. 

What more do you need to start your movement?

All you need is to care. Care enough to serve a few people. And then, your message spreads and inspires.

“In 1984, it started. They just kept coming and coming. And they knew they would be remembered, loved, and taken care of, and that someone would say a kind word over them when they died.” – Ruth Coker Burks

[You can read the incredible story of the Cemetery Angel here.] 

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.]