Nine days into my Shift to Greatness Bike Trek, I’m discovering something about myself that has been confirming what I knew was true deep inside. Like most who roam around the same people with common ideas, beliefs and political views, I knew “where” most of my friends could be found. I even knew “what” they might believe and especially “who” they would likely vote for. Despite all this, I still believed there were so many more people who had richness of experiences to offer me, if I am willing to part from my own comfort zone based on a false narrative that was actually rooted in my own self-righteousness.

William Owens - Bike TrekThe truth is I don’t think we ever outgrow our deep desire of wanting genuine friends and believing in our friendships. Friendship has become more complicated than ever in these polarized times. We’ve allowed the “god” of politics or religion to override the volition of choice that gives us the freedom of will to connect with people, to have conversations, to enjoy discourse, and even to disagree with civility and respect. I’m afraid those days are gone and they won’t ever return. It will take a radical departure from the deep dark divide that is taking a hard grip on the hearts of Americans. However, not all of the divide is necessarily “dark”. I’m concerned that an “angel of light” has even deceived many into thinking that their ideology, political smarts, and spirituality have informed them of all they need to know. I dare you to SHIFT into a gear that requires you to slow down and you will realize there are so many more people right in your zip code who can offer you a dose of joy, a ray of hope, and a word or experience that will transform your life.

There is no possible way I could have seen this truth unless I was riding an average of 10.5 MPH with time to think, pray, and process what is unfolding in my heart. I am gaining a better understanding of the actions of others towards me and, more importantly, my actions towards others. When I ride, I don’t listen to music or commentary. I listen to the wind, to my heart, and to God. I soak in previous conversations, the looks on the faces of people I’ve met, and observe my actions towards others. I’ll admit that I’ve cringed at what I’ve thought during some of these “replays”, like “the look on this guy’s face tells me not to say hello”. Boy was I wrong! The conversation was rich and his heart was warmed. Or the couple who had lunch next to me who saw my bike gear, we talked, and they bought a book.

Ask yourself who your friends, your acquaintances, your network are? I’m convinced you should make it more diverse. You will see more of Americans, enrich the diversity of your understanding, and become more than who you are otherwise. Regardless of your political affiliation, who you voted for, or what news channel you watch, if you fail to “be” the change by “Shifting” your friendship to be broader, wider and deeper, America will fail to be great.

No matter how much politicians politic or how richer we become, genuine greatness is more than these. Greatness all about relationships. I dare you to go say hello to a new American you have yet to met and I bet you they’ll say “hello” back in return. You’ll then be on your way to GREATNESS and you don’t have to ride a bike across America to experience it.