There are a few things you can count on in life.
Change, neverending, unrelentless change. Embrace it.
Scarcity, especially when it comes to time. You never get now back.
Fear. Whenever you see things that don't make sense, ask if fear's involved. It's uncanny how often it plays a role.
I've found that when you combine the above three phenomenons, the resulting conclusion is that people won't fall in the category of things you can count on. That doesn't sadden me, however. We all let others down from time to time. I look for those people who you can count on more often than not. People who put substantial effort into being the types of individuals who are reliable and trustworthy. Those exceptional folks who you really can count on to try.
When I first met my buddy Jim back in the winter of 1993, I'd just turned 16, was struggling to determine where I fit in the world and had no idea that he'd be one of those people that you can count on.
When I met him, I saw just another football player who was taller, more outgoing and drove a nicer car than I did. But as we worked together at Olson's grocery store (it had a "Natural Foods" section before the Whole Foods/organic movement was anywhere to be seen), we became good friends. During the next 2 years we spent countless hours watching movies (we were the only 2 guys we knew willing to see "Friday" in the theater after shootings its opening weekend), egging cars (don't ask), playing video games and oh yeah, bagging groceries.
As first he, and then I, headed off to college, we fell out of touch. Whenever summer came around though, it was like the only things that had changed were our tolerances, my height and his hairline (it's true!). Despite the massive changes we were both undergoing as people, we always had the core of a good friendship: we asked hard questions, we pushed each other to be better and we always always joked and gave each other shit.
It turns out, of course, that you should never never talk shit to a former linebacker when you're learning how to lift weights :-)
I don't know when it occurred in our friendship that I began to trust Jim's intuition when it came to pushing me. Maybe it was when I survived enough of our antics w/out a scratch on my record or maybe it was when we lifted together, but at some point I learned that when he pushed me, I was smart to just grit my teeth and try harder. I push myself incredibly hard as a habit, because I believe it's important, but sometimes you need to listen to other folks who recognize opportunities to push yourself that you don't see yourself.
That's why when Jim said to me a few months ago, "So, I'm thinking of going skydiving for my 30th, would you want to join?" I didn't hesitate.
Despite being terrified of heights (the boys from DB can attest to this - remember the ropes course??) I'd been thinking about skydiving as one of those "face your fear" type of challenges for a while. I hadn't taken any action, but Jim's suggestion is just what I needed. Of course, as I write this my palms sweat a bit and I get that nervous/scared feeling in the pit of my stomach, but in a few hours I'm flying up to Seattle and within 24, I'll be jumping out of a perfectly good plane.
So, thanks Jimbo, for pushing me.. in life and perhaps, if I get weak-willed, from planes :)
Happy 30th old man!