I Got Your Back

Posted on June 5, 2010


I just spent some concentrated time with 16 young people camping. That isn’t the reason the cat has lost her trust, by the way, but I can tell you about another black cat that has lost some girls’ trust. While they were sleeping in an open pavilion last night, the resident huntress decided to show her appreciation for her temporary guests by feeding them through the night. With live mice. Although the response was animated, it was not appreciative. Yes, you guessed it. My response was appreciative. I’m sure you know me well enough to know my penchant for amusement.

This, however, is not about cats and mice and nocturnal presents. Our purpose was to bring 16 people who largely like each other and get along well to a beautiful spot where we could raise the bar. We wanted them to catch the vision of trusting each other. Often, when I’m trying to reach something tall, I will create haphazard structures to climb from whatever is most handy. (Your cartoon imaginings, at this point, are not far off.) At the top, at the end of my reach, I’m pretty wobbly, and usually, pretty useless. The more structured my foundation, the harder I can work and the more fully I can focus on what I’m doing, not trying to do something and keep my balance.

We talked about what you can accomplish if you really trust the people you’re with, what courage that gives you, and what confidence to do hard things. And we talked about what builds that trust, and what erodes it. We have confidence in smart, competent people who work hard and can be counted on. But we also trust honest, kind people whose motivations are pure and whose habits are supportive. We trust most those who are both.

I’m at a very good place in my life, surrounded by those kinds of people. I feel like I can do great things because it’s a solid place to stand and I’m not worried about keeping my balance while I work. I wish I’d had that when I was young: the power of “I got your back” in a truly two-way commitment.

We worked together, we played together, we built things and cleaned things and planned things and changed our minds … all together. We irritated each other and hugged each other and laughed and cried. I hope they caught the vision. I hope they like the bar there. And I hope their hot pink lines are a bit bigger.

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