Friction

A few months ago, my wife and I caved in and got solar. Yes, we're one of those people with those silly panels on our roof but hey, it saves us a little cash every month. There were two competing solar companies trying to woo us over but we ended up going with SolarCity. The reason: it's backed by Elon Musk

If you don't know who Elon Musk is, google him. He's the guy who invented Tesla, SpaceX, and he's basically Tony Stark but in real life. He's kind of a genius. SolarCity is apparently backed by him. 

Before I signed my name on the dotted line, the sales rep gave me all the facts about the future of solar power and how credible this company is. I know, kind of fishy right? But despite his sales-pitchiness, he said something that caught my attention and I was hooked. "Elon Musk is all about creating a frictionless experience." I asked him what he meant by that. The sales rep said, "Well, if we create frictionless environments, for example, in the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system using a frictionless environment, then we don't have to use fuel to move vehicles." Genius! If you remove friction from 'the system', we won't have any problems. This philosophy transcends all of Musk's endeavors, including their sales process. SolarCity finances solar panels in-house so that there aren't any headaches when it comes to selling products and making life easier for everyone. No friction, no problems!  

Needless to say, we got solar. 

But the past few months, I have been reflecting on this phrase, "Frictionless environment." What does that mean? I get what Elon Musk is trying to create in his technology but I began to apply that same phrase in our lives. I think if we're honest with ourselves, most of us like the sound of that. We hate friction, right? The awkward conversation with your boss or when you rub a family member the wrong way. That's all friction in a sociological sense.

But if we go a little deeper and think about the major life moments like getting married or getting a new job, friction is inevitable. It's really quite hard to avoid it. 

We don't live in frictionless environments. 

But what if friction wasn't as bad as we made it? For example, you can't start a fire without friction. Every Survivor fan knows the cardinal rule... "No fire, no life." You can't masterfully sand craft an unfinished piece of wood into a beautiful table without friction. In a similar way, friction in manageable doses actually can be helpful in how we navigate our lives. What if friction was vital to our growth and development? And instead of avoiding friction, what if we embraced it as part of the process of self-discovery and growth. 

Rather than ending with answers to life's friction points, here are a few questions to consider:  

  1. What are the friction points in your life? Are they destructive or beneficial? (Hint: Not all friction is bad). 
  2. How long have they been there? 
  3. What have you tried to do about this friction point?
  4. What do you think is the growth invitation from these moments? 

Friction isn't bad or good. It's what you choose to learn from these moments. Friction in my life has helped me recognize where I am and where I'm heading because until the Hyperloop is a reality, we still need friction to move us.