The Amazon Prime Effect (Untucked Column #2)
There are certain areas in all of our lives where we are stubborn (don’t say you aren’t! If you do, that just proves my point!) And there are certain areas of our life where we are more receptive to advice and perhaps a bit more open-minded. It is in those areas where we are most stubborn that give us the greatest challenges that require the most tender, loving care.
We have all been on the giving and receiving end of advice. Isn’t it funny how much easier it is for us to give advice than to actually live it? I have come to find that the best kind of advice is the kind that is asked for. Why? The principle of the A.S.K. Ask and it will be given to you; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will be opened to you. Someone seeking help is much more apt to receiving it as opposed to forcing it upon them. Help requires humility.
How often do we do this in life — with those around us, especially with those we love most? We so badly want to help them; we so badly want them to see that the path they are walking is one that is leading to heartbreak, pain, or even destruction. If we could save them, we would. We might even trade places with them to spare them what was to come.
Several years ago when I was working a lot with young people - specifically middle schoolers - I was speaking well over 100 times a year - developing messages and series that I hoped would encourage them, filled with analogies and stories I hoped they could relate to. Then, it came time for the annual summer youth camp trip. Several times the teens would come back to the dorms or even on the bus ride home and talk about how amazing the speakers’ messages were. I found myself taking issue with those conversations because it was the same message I was speaking months prior. However, when someone else said the same thing, they were able to receive it. What? How dare they? I began to question myself: was I failing them? Was I not communicating in a manner that was getting through to them? In essence, making it about me rather than celebrating with them.
It was not until I got older, experienced more life, and started to realize I wanted the credit instead of celebrating the fact that those young people “got it”.
In life — you will plant seeds of encouragement; other times you will water those seeds of encouragement that someone else already planted; and in some cases, you will be around to see the harvest of that seed. Three different phases. All important. However, when we are pouring our heart out to someone, we want them to get it and we want them to get it NOW! Yet, we must ask ourselves the question: is it the timing that we want or the timing that they need?
We are all a work in process. Process takes time. There is a promise at the end of that process but the patience we need to endure that process is a challenge. Why? Something I call the “Amazon Prime Effect.” Prime is a fantastic service. For $99 a year, on all Prime eligible items on Amazon that you order, you receive in 2-business days plus access to a massive collection of music, books, and movies. I love Prime! I love it when I receive the e-mail confirmation telling me that my item(s) have shipped and within that e-mail is a tracking number. I track it all the time! For the most part, I know exactly where my package is along the timeline as it is making its way to me. I am counting down the hours!
I believe we tend to apply that same “Prime Principle” to ourselves and to others. We want to be able to track progress in real time and know that within a defined period of time we are going to receive the harvest on the seeds that have been planted in our life or the seeds we have planted with others. However, there is no tracking system to personal growth. It takes time. It takes consistency. It takes help. It takes encouragement. I believe we would all love to know when the peace we have longed for will finally come; the healing we have been believing for will manifest; when that relationship will finally develop; when that wayward child will finally come home; when that friend finally gets it; or when your mind is not filled with anxiety and fear.
Remember: Seed. Time. Harvest.