I went on a backpacking trip with a group of friends a couple weekends ago, up to Conundrum hot springs (pictured above) outside of Aspen, Colorado. We hiked seventeen miles round trip into White River national forest and camped just outside a beautiful rocky canyon overlooking the river. So, what does this have to do with anything? (other than you need to go hike it) It made me think of a topic that I love talking about and references something I believe in, people. It goes something like this.
Everything we do is measured on a scale, with one axis being some type of measurable (money, knowledge, status) and the other being time. The scale typically looks like an exponential line because typically, over time these measurables or results grow. We also know that we can apply certain things to these measurable to decrease the amount of time it takes to attain them. This is because we cannot change time, it is a fixed asset of which we have no control, yet the measureable can be flexible. You are only allowed to utilize your time to gain these measurable faster through the application of different resources, or allow them to grow at the rate in which they naturally occur. An example would be a college education. Instead of working in a job for multiple years to acquire the knowledge and skills to do said job, while moving through the ranks and earning a typical yearly raise… You can apply a college degree (four years) and minimize that time while also starting out higher in the company, at a higher salary. I want to take this concept and apply it to the human bond.
There are two things that I believe you can apply to build strong human bonds and quickly. I will talk about one in this post. On one axis of our scale we have time, and on the other axis we have the strength of the human bond. We can see that over time the strength of a bond naturally gets stronger, an example being, a girlfriend. First, you start as friends, and then you date, marriage, kids, and one day you realize how you could have never lived your life without her. This process can also happen over a very long time period, so how can we speed it up?
The first thing you can apply is unique opportunities. This is defined as something outside of the norm of what your everyday life consists of i.e. a backpacking trip, a skydiving event, a death, a divorce, etc… This opportunity is something that most people don’t or will not experience in their lifetime or if they do it will have a very minimal frequency. It also may be something you do with a group of unknown people, but it is some type of experience that is not a part of your everyday life. I want to give you two examples for this, the first being my backpacking trip.
I had forgot to mention that of the five people we were backpacking with I only knew one of them and had met the other three the day before. So, as we are hiking up eight and a half miles I begin talking with two of my five companions and next thing you know it began to seem like an old best friend I had not seen in years and we were catching up on the time we had missed out on. I was talking about past experiences, life goals, getting drunk, college, you name it! Yet, I had met these people not but twenty four hours before. It partially may be that I’m outgoing and very open, but I believe in unique experiences you begin to let your guard down. You begin to become vulnerable. It’s calming, yet overwhelming knowing that you’re experiencing something with someone, and you may never experience again. Yet in that moment you appreciate all that is around you and sharing that experience with your group. We will talk more about vulnerability later (part three), so onto my second example.
Wrestling. Tight spandex and sweaty dudes. Very crazy and unique sport that is the oldest of all time, yet almost got taken out of the Olympics. It is unique in the fact that it is very much so an individual sport, yet also a very team oriented sport. You go to a wrestling tournament and you see gatherings of people in a corner rooting for one wrestler out in the center of the mat, wrestling by himself. It is also unique in the sense that the preparation for such an event is uncharacteristic of many sports. If you wrestle, you are asked not only to maintain your academics and other responsibilities, but take on the task of competing at a high level and training while depleting yourself of resources to do so. Imagine the last bit of gas you have in your car after the light turns orange on your dashboard, but you just started the New York marathon…good luck. What this does is put you back into the state of vulnerability as I said before, it creates an opportunity to strengthen a bond with someone while decreasing the time it takes to build it. I learned it first hand as some of my closest and dearest friends are those that I wrestled with in college.
In these unique opportunities we find that people let down their walls and open up about themselves, from camping trips to sitting on the roof of a house in rural Colorado with no cell service, to sweating in a sauna with a teammate before a tournament. You find that bonds are being built. Next week I want to talk about the second bond building block, overwhelming limits.