Time is limited.
The movie In Time starring Justin Timberlake contained the basic plot and understanding that every living human being exists within a specific time frame. The characters of the movie all possessed clocks on their arms that would begin counting down towards zero once they reached a certain age. Once their clock reached zero, they would cease to exist. Instead of being paid a regular wage, they were paid in time increments in order to prolong their existence. Commodities were equated with a different cost in time; 4 minutes for a coffee, 3 minutes for a bus ride, etc.
As leaders, parents & individuals, our life here on earth does follow this same basic principle and understanding. It's true we may not possess a countdown clock on our forearms letting us know how much time we've got left, we do have an awareness that life on this planet doesn't last forever, and usually a longing to invest whatever time we've been given coincides with this basic understanding.
When I think about investing my life, I think about what I need to experience so that I'm filled with great joy and hope. I'm also thinking about what it might mean for others around me to experience a joy filled life. Conversation and interaction between human beings is a large part of life. When I interact with others, am I making the most out of my opportunity to connect with them, or am I wasting my time instead of investing it.
Here are three ideas that I'm discovering about creating conversation that matters.
1. Rooted in story. Each of us has a story to tell. Every life exists for a reason and purpose. Each life represents a single story that is being lived within the context of a greater unfolding story known as the existence of humanity. When I connect with others (old or young), how am I sharing my story with them? Our world is designed to trade in relational currency. My story matters. Your story matters. Our lives matter. Choosing to share stories with one another helps to create the life-giving interaction and experience that each of us crave. Share your life by sharing your story (past, present & future).
2. Willingness to listen. While finding the courage to share my life with someone is critically important, I must also be willing to create the space of others to feel heard and valued through my willingness to listen. I create life-giving opportunities for others by being willing to hear them. My youngest son Deklon reminds me of this all the time. He is just learning how to speak, but he always has a great story he wants to share with me. Sure, there may be only a few words that I understand, but the joy in his eyes as he knows I'm his captive audience is inspiring!
When we interact with others do they know that we are willing to hear what they have to say? We may not agree entirely with them, but we model that they are valued when we take the time to listen to what they have to say. Are you willing to listen to someone's story?
3. Courage to be real. Perhaps this should have been where I started my rant. I'm tired of fake things. Plastic plants always look great from a distance, but when you get close to them, you realize that they are really limited in what they can be used for. This same principle can be applied to our understanding of human life. People that do not represent who they really are through the way they live their lives and interact with others will find themselves becoming increasingly lonely. We humans are designed for authenticity...fake just won't do! We might be able to fool some people for a little while, but we will loose sight of our own identity and a sense of stability in the process if we continue to project who we think we should be instead of who we really might be. The rejection of our fake self is easier to handle, that much is true, but the acceptance of our fake self is even more difficult to process. All you were ever meant to be was you...just the way you are...an intentionally flawed masterpiece. Find the courage to be real, cause fake just won't do!
Conversation that is real, rooted in story & provides an opportunity to be heard is life-giving. How are your creating these environments and opportunities with the time you've been given?