RULE 17: Don't Burn Bridges




We build too many walls and not enough bridges.
— Isaac Newton


Take a few moments to think about all of the people from your childhood that you grew up with. I’m talking about the friends, classmates, coworkers, etc. that you first met 10+ years ago. Think about the “labels” that defined these people in your life. Which were the talented ones? Which were the “cool” ones? Which were the bullies? Which were the smart ones? Which were the “losers”? Which were better off than you? Which ones were you intimidated by? Which ones did you admire the most? Which ones looked up to you?

Now I want you to just isolate a few of those people and think about who they are today… Are they living exactly how you would have predicted they would be?

Of course not! Are YOU the same person that you were 10+ years ago? Except for maybe a few cases, most of the people I grew up with have ended up living completely different lives than I ever could have imagined. Some people who I thought were “problem kids” have become extremely successful, while others who I thought had it all figured out are stuck in a life that they aren’t happy with. You just NEVER KNOW how people’s lives will turn out.

The whole point of this is NOT to cast judgement on what is good and what is bad. The point is to demonstrate that life is both unpredictable and ever-changing. Sometimes we choose the right path, sometimes we choose the wrong one. Sometimes we observe people who seem to have found the good path right away, while others spend a lifetime seeking that same path. In other words, everything is relative... you just never know what point someone is at in their journey and you never know where exactly you’re heading yourself.

However, one thing is certain: We are all on a very unique path because the road we take is determined by the experiences and influences we encounter by other people along the way.

This is important because it therefore follows that the opposite must be true: Our actions also play an integral role in THEIR lives as well! Big or small, the things that we do (or don’t do) inevitably creates a fork or bend in someone else’s life path.

I think at this point it’s important to look to one of the most important rules, perhaps of all time: The Golden Rule. Before we continue, please note that I’m not a religious person and do not want to investigate this rule from the lens of religion in any way.

However, I think the Golden Rule serves as a basic model for how life generally operates.



Let’s dig into the Golden Rule a little bit by changing the wording around:

  • Your thoughts (input) create your reality (output).
  • The activities you put energy into eventually become skill-sets, good or bad.
  • If you generally have a positive mindset, you will attract more positivity in your life.
  • If you treat others with genuine respect, people are more likely to respect you.
  • If you exercise regularly and eat right, you’ll feel/look healthier.
  • If you constantly disrespect others, how could you expect someone to respect you?
  • If you constantly gossip about others, how does that make you look in the eyes of those listening?
  • If you spread negativity to others, you will attract negativity in return.
  • If you help others in times of need, they will likely want to help you or feel inspired to help someone else.
  • If you shut people out, they will not want to make an effort to be a part of your life.
  • If someone is rude to you, how does it make you feel about them?
  • If someone does something nice for you, how does it make you feel about them?
  • If someone wrongs you, how does it make you feel about them?

This reminds me of those times where some people seem to have the power to "ruin your day” while other people could absolutely “make your day”. Why did they do so? Its because our actions have incredible influence over others, and vice-versa.

All of this brings us to this week’s 3 words of advice: “Don’t Burn Bridges”. Anytime we choose to burn a bridge with someone, it means that we are cutting off all opportunities to help each other move through life. If we thought of a literal bridge connecting two lands, it means that by burning the bridge, we’d no longer be able to travel back and forth, sharing in the characteristics that makes those two lands so unique and special. After looking at these variations on the Golden Rule, why on earth would we spend any energy at all burning a bridge with another person? Anytime you do so, you’re making life harder on both the other person and yourself.

Burning a bridge with someone is a LOSE/LOSE scenario.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, when we think back to our own personal “highlights reel” (the best things that have happened in our lives so far), virtually all of these moments happened as a result of another person helping you in some way, right? On the flip side, you’ve most likely been in some sort of position where you’ve been able to help someone. How gratifying is it when you’re able to do so? This is proof that the human experience is really based on our ACTIONS towards each other.

People who BURN bridges are those who ultimately live by the mindset:  “What can I GET from others?”

People who BUILD bridges are those who ultimately live by the mindset: “What can I GIVE to others?"

Do you burn bridges or build them?


This week, I’d like you to take a hard look at your own moral principles and think about what “forks” in the road you tend to create for other people.


1) Are you following the principles of the Golden Rule in your everyday life? If not, where exactly are you falling short?
2) Are you really contributing positively in other people’s lives or are you a constant burden? What changes can you make?
3) Have you burned bridges with others? Why did it REALLY happen?
4) Has someone burned a bridge with you? Why did it REALLY happen?


Perform a random act of kindness and don’t tell anyone that you did it. How did you feel after doing it?


What position are you in where you can help someone move forward in their life? Here’s some suggestions: Recommend a helpful book, teach them something valuable, recommend them for a gig, connect them with someone who they might hit it off with, or help them with something they’re having trouble with.


If a bridge has been burned with someone, re-build that bridge. If it was your fault: apologize for what you did, practice humility, and learn from your mistake. If it was their fault: forgive them for what they did and move forward. I can guarantee you of two things: 1) Re-building a bridge will be extremely difficult to do, and 2) You’ll feel amazing after the bridge has been rebuilt.



Thank you to Jonathan Mover for offering his 3 words of advice (Don't Burn Bridges), and for inspiring me to write this week's article!

Jonathan Mover a.k.a. "Mover" is a Grammy-award winning American drummer who has worked with a number of artists including Aretha Franklin, Fuel, Alice Cooper, Shakira, Julian Lennon, GTR, Everlast, The Tubes, Mick Jagger, Steve Howe, Peter Frampton, Oleander, Celine Dion, Elton John, Stuart Hamm, They Might Be Giants, Frank Gambale, Mike Oldfield, Steve Hackett, Marillion, Beastie Boys, Joe Satriani, Joe Lynn Turner, Dave Koz, Jan Hammer, Jimmy Barnes, Saigon Kick, Alan Friedman, Bernardo Lanzetti (of PFM - Premiata Forneria Marconi), Five For Fighting and others. Mover also owns, publishes and is Editor-In-Chief ofDrumhead, the number one drum magazine in circulation. 



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