Carmin Black is Co-Founder and CEO of HALF UNITED. Founded in 2009 in Wilmington, NC, HALF UNITED is a globally-minded human-first lifestyle brand committed to partnering with customers to fight hunger (and empower lives) with each purchase made.  Each collection reflects Carmin’s love of fashion, philanthropy, and travel, seen every season in the product design, as well as the videos of the people and places where each purchase helps. HALF UNITED is sold in more than 300 stores globally — and embraces a philosophy of humans-first and by fighting hunger and poverty, specifically for children and families, with every purchase made.

“People who refer to out-of-the-box see the box ...
People who don't know the box even exists are the innovative thinkers.”

In a small Italian town, hundreds of years ago, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a loan-shark. The loan-shark was a very old, unattractive looking guy that just so happened to fancy the business owner’s daughter.

He decided to offer the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him. However, the catch was that we would only wipe out the debt if he could marry the businessman’s daughter. Needless to say, this proposal was met with a look of disgust.

The loan-shark said that he would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black.

The daughter would then have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, the debt would be wiped, but the loan-shark would then marry her. If it was white, the debt would also be wiped, but the daughter wouldn’t have to marry the loan-shark.

Standing on a pebble strewn path in the businessman’s garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles. While he was picking the pebbles up, the daughter noticed that he’d picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag. He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one.

The daughter naturally had three choices as to what she could have done:

  • Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag…
  • Take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan-shark for cheating…
  • Pick a pebble from the bag fully knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father’s freedom…

She drew out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it “accidentally” dropped it into the middle of the path filled with other pebbles.

She said to the loan-shark; “Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

The pebble left in the bag is obviously black, and seeing as the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white, and clear her father’s debt.

It’s always possible to excel and thrive through out of the box thinking, and not give in to the only options you think you have to pick from.

If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. [Matthew 5:40-42 NLT]

INFLUNSR defines excellence as choosing to create a better future by going the extra mile. Let’s wrestle with several ideas:

  • When have you found yourself doing just the minimum expected?
  • How do you react when someone else gives only the minimum?
  • Which is harder for you? In what area of your life is it easier to go an extra mile? Relationships? School? Which is the hardest? Why do you think that is?
  • What might keep you from saying yes to someone’s request… or a need you see?
  • In what area might God be nudging you to go an extra mile?
  • What have you done out of obedience that might’ve seemed small, yet later discovered was a big deal?
  • How hard is it for you to step outside your comfort zone?
  • What is your personal comfort zone?

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