I spend a lot of time coaching young people through transitions from kid to captain of their journeys. I have watched some young people navigating the terrain like they chartered their course years prior. On the other hand, I felt the wrath of the entitled youth too proud to admit that a glance at a map might have been more advantageous than the spontaneous decision to begin a journey with no plan. I guessed that sponteneity fed the free spirit within the young ones, but the choice to hike through the wilderness without rations or a compass seemed shortsighted, in my opinion. Who am I to judge someone else for being less cautions than I have been? Should I feel guilt or gratitude for my role in teaching valuable life lessons to the youth regardless of their chosen path?
As much as the church has taught me that my life events were scripted for me by God before my existence, there have been days when life has felt like a real crap shoot. I have wondered if God was playing a holy version of “Plinko,” standing in the heavens dropping monster chips through random mazes in order to determine outcomes like the game show contestants on the “Price is Right.” This theory crept into my thoughts this week as I lived the emotions of rest takers doing life on the edge. I wrestled with what made some embrace the structure of disorder while others transferred the responsibility and liabilities for their actions to me. I also considered why I found myself drawn to invest in some who started the trip with no map even though both groups expected that their high risk behavior would generate amazing rewards.
Interestingly, I observed that my level of engagement of time, emotion, dialogue, and other resources moved up and down a sliding scale smoothly like I was changing the volume when that song I love plays o through my speakers. I considered three cases studies involving young people I met in the last year or so: one was a student, one was a college graduate, and one an uber driver who boasted about lessons learned in the school of life. The exercise made me feel like an investment banker analyzing a consumer seeking the level of buy in from a stranger with the intent to received much needed capital. My capital, I determined, was the time, the energy, and the weight of decision making expended to determine whether or not to accept the invitation to join the youthful adventure. I learned that I was more likely to lean into the adventure when there was evidence of the following:
- Awareness of the thing sough even if the goal was somewhat general, but based in logic. For example, acknowledgement of wanting a degree or wanting to succeed in order to be the first to give hope to those who sent you away from that comfortable place to find your way.
- Passion for the work that is the essence of the outcome sought.
- Ownership of the current status and the decisions that led to that status.
- Resourceful actions taken to navigate through the challenge and the humility to ask others to hope move the needle to the goal when you get stuck trying to go at it after realizing that you don’t know what you don’t know.
- The courage to confront fear with an offensive strategic mindset matched with calculated, well-timed defensive coverages.
What draws you to engage and invest in others and their adventures? What do you intend to accomplish by engaging and in a sense taking some ownership of the other persons adventure. I am drawn in for the reasons stated above and I hope to remind them that life isn’t intended to be perfect so the realization of their imperfect plan is perfectly fine. I also encourage the adventurous ones to keep an open mind, embrace the detours, and remember that they set out on the course searching for opportunity to blaze a trail. My goal is to teach, inspire, and enlighten young people that this practice is life. It is living.