A Thousand Ripples

“Hey, you know how you always said anytime? That time is now.”

I remember getting the call from a friend to head to his place immediately. It was the call where you know everything had just gone wrong in his life and he’s cashing in your promise to always be there.

The news wasn’t good and we spent a long time hashing it out. Since that night, we’ve only spoken once. I’ve known him for enough years to anticipate we’ll be in contact again at some point whether the news is good or bad.

What hits me hard about that situation (aside from the fallout) was his desire to call me. He’s been friends with many other people for much longer.

I attribute it to the amount of time we made contact with each other through visiting, watching sports games together or enjoying a beverage somewhere. There were a thousand points of contact (what I’m calling ripples) from day one.

“I’ve never seen a student body attach themselves to someone so fast.”

I was taking over as chaplain of a high school. The role demands many things from you and different areas, however, I chose just one: build rapport with students.

This was done by stepping out of my office and making contact with students in the halls. I didn’t stop moving and didn’t stop conversing. In that month, I must’ve hit the thousand ripple mark because students began flooding my office to hang out.

The next year I was dropped into another school with the warning, “it’ll take a while before students open up to you. They have great barriers in front of them.”

Two months later, I heard the comment again:

“I’ve never seen these students warm up to someone so fast.”

Another thousand ripples.

Strong relationships are built on constant, authentic contact. You can’t make a ripple in the water by looking at it and talking about it. You have to be willing to reach out and disturb the surface.

It might backfire.

A thousand touches later, however, you’ll find a rhythm.

Then you will have made an impact.