December 2021

Close your eyes for a minute.

Imagine yourself in the center of a stadium filled with screaming sports fans who are there to watch you try to set a new world record for the long jump. Your heart is thumping and it’s nearly impossible to hear above the din. You accelerate in sixteen steps down the runway and on the final step you leap as far as you can into the pit of sand that awaits.

How far did you fly? Did you hit the sand or run straight into a cement wall?

Keep your eyes closed.

This is the experience of Lex Gillette, a multiple-time world record holder and Olympic medalist in the Paralympics. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for our Bring a Friend Podcast last week, and it got me thinking, not only about collaboration and friendship but about trust.

Lex is blind. With the help of his sighted partner Wesley Williams who carefully positions him at the starting line and calls out his steps, he has reached the pinnacle of his sport. He gets there with hard work. He gets there with natural ability. And he gets there with Wesley, whom he trusts with his body, his career and his dreams.

Now open your eyes and tell me who you trust with your dreams?

So many of us need a Wesley by our side, not only so that we land in the sand instead of hitting the wall, but so we don’t feel alone in the process of trying and missing as well as trying and flying.

* * *

Two days after taping our interview, I logged in to Parlay From Away, our Virtual Parlay House gathering. Our guest of the week was Trish Kendall, an extraordinary woman whose childhood was stolen by sexual abuse and whose young adult life was darkened by drug addiction, violence and gangs. She tells the story that after many years of suffering, she had chosen to end her life.

But just before injecting a lethal dose of methamphetamine into her veins, her cell phone rang and for some reason, she answered the call. It was her older sister, Maria.

Maria had known she was struggling and had frequently called to offer help. But in the depths of her dependence, Trish had never picked up the phone.

This time, at the moment of her intended death, Trish answered. “If Maria had called one day earlier, I wouldn’t have picked up, and one day later I would’ve been dead,” she told us.

Why did she answer at that moment? Because in her most desperate hour, Maria was the only person she truly trusted with her life. They had grown up in the same household. Suffered from the same abuser. Knew each other on a deep and meaningful level.

That phone call gave Trish the chance to start again.

That transformation began because Maria showed up. Not only was she there at the moment that Trish was ready— she showed up before she was ready and she showed up when she was ready to quit. Maria not only welcomed her into her home, but also helped her get sober and was by her side as she managed the non-linear path to recovery. One small step at a time, she modeled the first truly trusting relationship Trish had ever known.

Trish is now a self-aware, driven, confident woman who has reframed her life into one she describes as a complete success. She’s done it by building trust in herself, trust in others and choosing to give and accept love completely.

Which leads me to ask, “Who can you trust with your life”? Even if we are not suicidal, so many of us need a Maria to reroute us from harm, accept our humanity and celebrate us as we grow.

* * *

Twice in one week, I fell in love with stories about trust, connection and collaboration. They felt extraordinary for me, and maybe especially relevant at this moment.

On a macro as well as a micro level, I’m personally finding it hard to know who to trust.

Yes. I’m talking about the news media and elected officials. I’m talking about falsified vaccination cards and social gaslighting. I’m talking about scammers and spammers and smash-and-grabbers.

But on an especially deep level, I’m talking about the trusting relationships between people in the most intimate human way. I’m talking about connections where, both literally and figuratively, both people know they will be safer and stronger with the other person than if they try to go alone.

Wesley says that he can see, but it is Lex who has the vision of what they can do together. Lex says he has a vision of what he can achieve but can only get there in complete partnership with Wesley.

As the past year ends and a new one begins, I’m going to close my eyes and visualize relationships with this level of trust. I’m going to hone in on the people in my world who have the ability to, as Trish says, completely give and receive love. People who will nurture my heart, and who will let me hold theirs with my own gentle strength.

My trusted circle – you know who you are.

My newer friends, and those of you that I haven’t really gotten to know yet, I have a feeling we can get there too.

We’ll start small. We’ll be gentle. We’ll practice giving and receiving love. We’ll work on seeing each other and opening up ourselves so that we can really be seen. We’ll call out the steps, like Wesley, and step up the calls like Maria.

My eyes are open.

If ever there was a moment for this building of trust, it is now. I hope you’ll join me in making 2022 the year that we build a foundation of trust.

* * *

Share it Small: Do you have someone whom you completely trust with your dreams, your heart, your life? That’s huge. Celebrate that truth with them.

Share it Big: Do you want to build deeper levels of trust with key people in your life? If there are gaps in trust, be open about them and figure out how to rebuild together. The downside is minimal and the upside is the best possible gift.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a breakthrough, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your own power.