Speaker. Entrepreneur. Author.

How It Ends

Added on by Sam Davidson.

"How does it all start?" she wanted to know.
"With a whisper," he told her. "That crescendoes into a conversation about adventure, possibility, and risk."

"How does it end?" she asked.
"Poorly."


I'm mesmerized by this image of an endling, something pointed out by kottke.org earlier. 

An endling is the last of its species. The final generation. The final thing. It's over after that.

I think there is a great need for many of us to know how something ends before we're willing to step out on a journey. And while some of this is pure practicality ("Are we there yet?"), a lot of it is simply unknowable apprehension. Part of the way we travel through life is not knowing how things end, if they'll end, and when they'll end. It can be agonizing. But it's also part of moving forward. We walk into a great unknown, armed only with hope for the best.

A very meaningful community is coming to and end for me this week. For three years running, I've been attending a fitness boot camp three days a week at 6 AM. I've made friends there, been challenged there, helped others there, and been changed there.

The community is ending because our trainer is stepping out into the world of entrepreneurship. Good for him. He's ready, and he'll be successful. 

It makes it no less easy for me to step away, of course. I'll be on the lookout for a new community soon. Part of me doesn't even want to search, wants to kick and scream and long for the "good ole days." (Are there "good ole days" when you're cranking through 100 burpees? Probably not.)

But it's over. Class on Wednesday was an endling, and I took a picture. 

If you had been able to tell me back in August of 2011 that this was going to be how it ended, would I have set out on this pathway?

Absolutely. That's the only way we can move forward in this life if we hope to have a ride worth going on: completely and absolutely forward, no matter when or how the ending comes. 

Otherwise, we'll simply stay on the sidelines, afraid of the end. And when we're afraid of the end, we'll never even get to start.

Onward, friends.

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How the Magic Happens

Added on by Sam Davidson.

Seth Godin details why the magic doesn't happen quite like, well, magic. Sure, we hope there will be a silver bullet or the waving of a wand and we'll be on our way towards something awesome. But, that's rare, so we better get to work. 

People can be magic, too, but the most magical among them seem to be those who are consistently themselves and we soak in these small bits of them that wow and impress us time and again. 

It's not that magic becomes ordinary (why call it magic, then?). It's that the ordinary and the consistent stand out because people are looking for magic in all the wrong places. 

Find the hardworking, the dedicated, the selfless, the compassionate, the reliable, and the true. There is where you will find magic.

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Change the Game or Change the Gauge

Added on by Sam Davidson.

We all want our companies or products to be game changing. We want to innovate, push, and dazzle our customers until we become industry leaders. 

And every once in a while, we can change the game. We can come up with something so brilliant that everyone has to catch up. This is what the iPhone did, of course. All of a sudden, now, nearly every phone has a touch screen. 

But another way to shake things up is to change the gauge. Read this recap of how all railroads needed to be standardized after the Civil War. It's fascinating, how over just a few days, a new standard was in place nationwide. 

This is how you really shake things up. You implement a new standard of appreciation or measurement. This is what the white earbud headphones did for the iPod. Other devices soon were launched that could hold a lot of music, but being seen with a white set of headphones meant you had a certain cache of cool. 

Could you change the way things are measured in your industry or workplace? You don't just have to innovate or change related to what you produce, but also how it's measured.

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Church No Longer Holds the Exclusive Patent on Community

Added on by Sam Davidson.

This is an over-generalization, but, for a long time, the American church could be counted on to be the locus of community nearly anywhere. If you and your family moved towns, the first thing you'd look to find was a local church that fit. Some of this was due to following and living out one's faith, but it was also due to our human need for community. And with a gathering of people and a robust list of social programming, the church was the best place to find such.

But that's not the case anymore. Church no longer has the exclusive patent on community. Gyms, coffee shops, meetups, online forums, workplaces, night classes, bars, running groups, book clubs - these all now offer opportunities for humans to connect, congregate, and commune. These are things that are in our very nature, a deep yearning of our souls. And the church is failing to meet that need due not only to rising competition, but also to its narrowing mindset.

Two communities are coming to an end for me this year, at least as I know them. And while I won't wade into the details of these communities, I will share that each offered me, perhaps for the first time, a glimpse into what community looks like when it's wide open, accepting, forgiving, willing to draw the circle bigger, and risky. While many church communities I've been a part of have been nice and fun, I didn't experience great open community until I was a part of each of these.

And this is how the church is losing. In its attempt to be a community, it continually draws its circles smaller. If you're in, then you're in, qualifying how you may and developing perhaps an arrogant thankfulness and pride. Kind of how I feel each time I walk into a SkyClub. And if you're out, you really don't care anymore. You're not aching to get into the church, a narrowing community that judges and expels, wags fingers and shames. 

Besides, you can make friends elsewhere nowadays. The church isn't the only game in town.

Will the church wake up and realize this? That it's selling a product no one wants? It has a product everyone needs, but the marketplace is crowded and the branding being used to hawk this ware can't overcome the ingredients and method in which the product was assembled. Consumers can easily do their research and see that you don't stack up to the competition. 

Of course, I'm not talking about every church and every Christian and every person. And I'm certainly not talking about your church. I'd never do that. Your church is perfect, it really is. 

But until the church takes the fear and loathing out of what it means to be a part of its community, until it lessens entry requirements and behavioral standards, it will ride its desire for exclusivity to emptier and emptier pews. Meanwhile, our restaurants and schools and gyms will keep filling up as people make meaningful connections. 

It's not that people don't want community. They don't want your community. And with more options than ever, the alternatives are endless. Turns out your patent wasn't all that valuable if you can't update your product every once in a while.

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Store Rules

Added on by Sam Davidson.

Posted:

If you look, don't touch.
If you touch, don't break.
If you break, help mend. 

These may also be the rules for the human heart. 

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