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The 180 Degree Rule

The 180 Degree Rule

One of the ways we can start modeling wisdom is to implement the “180 degree rule”: Go toward what you want to move away from. The benefits of that adjustment are profound. Both personally and for society.

photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

I got a nice reminder of this a few days ago. An online professional friend put out an all-points request for people who held conservative views. She decided she needed to broaden her thinking by conversing with people who didn’t think like her.

She was using the rule and was smart in admitting that it’s too easy to believe everyone thinks the way you do when all your friends do. That’s like thinking everyone drives a Subaru because all your friends do.

I decide where I stand on the political things one issue at a time (yes, a dyed-in-the-wool “Independent”). But I tend to lean conservative on fiscal stuff so I volunteered for her project. It turned out to be a very enjoyable conversation. Finding something we might disagree on became more and more the underlying joke as the 80-minute discussion progressed. Yes, we had differing opinions, but it was more a matter of degree, sequencing, or methods than of outright, irreconcilable differences. I was pleased I’d had the chance to learn that. Again.

Sometimes, the needed “one-eighty” has to do with an adventure. I didn’t particularly want to go on a very long cruise my then-husband suggested. I am oh so happy I did it anyway. Maybe you’re not a fan of Greek food. Go see if there’s something on the menu that you missed. The mousy little person in the corner at the HOA social? She might just turn out to be your new best friend.

This was pretty much what happened when I moved into a new neighborhood as a young mother. The other neighbors welcomed me, but they warned “Don’t be offended if your next-door neighbor doesn’t seem friendly. She just keeps to herself.” The “unfriendly” neighbor became best neighborhood friend. Over 40 years later, we still keep in touch. When we start laughing on the phone, it’s like we are still living next door to each other with young sons instead of 2000 miles apart with grandkids.

Don’t let fear keep you from doing “one eighties”. Fear is a spineless bully. Don’t let other people decide for you. They don’t know what you need or what you’re interested in. Sometimes staying away is a good idea–pit bulls and tsunamis come to mind. But it’s too easy to stay in your comfort zone just because it’s…well….comfortable.

That’s how we end up divided as a nation. That’s how we end up lonely as individuals. We don’t go see what’s really going on. We let what we want to believe get in the way of figuring out what’s real.

We can change that.

And we can lead the charge. We can set a good example for younger people by taking risks and reaching out. We can go toward what we normally would shy away from. We can build bridges and start bucket brigades. We can dance in the street with strangers. Life is too precious to view it from the couch with a triple lock on the door. Get out there.