Call it a vice… or a passion… sometimes my burden.
But on any given day there will be two or three occasions that I just have to STOP EVERYTHING and READ SOMETHING… ANYTHING!
Maybe ten minutes… maybe half an hour… until I receive some insight or nugget of value.
I know, it’s weird… but I’ve learned a lot of stuff this way.
Thankfully, there’s plenty from which to choose. We have hundreds… even thousands… of books in our home, on virtually any conceivable subject.
And that’s after downsizing last Fall and spreading a sizable collection spanning a number of carloads between two county libraries and the Cultural Heritage Department with our neighbors in the Oneida Nation Tribal Community.
Often when this feeling hits, I pick up the closest thing I can get my hands on… open it to anywhere… and read until, well… until I’m done.
Which, by the way, usually results in my daughter reminding me that books are meant to be read from the beginning… not from the middle or the end… but there I go digressing again.
So a few minutes ago I found myself on page 114 of Malcolm Gladwell’s National Bestseller, Blink… a tremendous book I read in its entirety about three or four years ago.
On that page, he describes the rules that govern Improvisational Comedy… the most important of which is that the movement of the conversation isn’t stopped by the other party shooting an idea down or taking an adversarial stance.
In other words, whatever is offered by one party… no matter how silly or ridiculous it may seem… is simply accepted by the other party and then used as the next building block to keep the conversation going.
One step leads to another.
And this concept reminded me of a conversation I had… or should I say that I didn’t have… with an acquaintance a few days ago.
You see, it turns out that being a contrarian has its place… but using it as a form of communication in each and every circumstance isn’t likely one of them.
I’m not saying that we can’t disagree… or even that we can’t agree to disagree… but this conversation seemed negative just for the purpose of being negative.
It also came on the heels of this individual’s comment that he didn’t feel he was very successful at getting his points across because he felt that others argued with him a lot.
Hmm, I wondered… who is really arguing with whom?
So just to test a thought, I changed the subject and asked, “Did you see the game on Saturday night?”
The Green Bay Packers had just destroyed the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons and the entire community seemed to be riding the wave. In fact, the upcoming game against the rival Chicago Bears is the talk of much of the national sporting press, not to mention being fairly dominant in this city.
“I think the hype is ridiculous…”
“I don’t get it at all…”
“Never have… never will…”
“I don’t even want to talk about that…”
“I gotta go.”
In reading Mr. Gladwell’s words tonight, it suddenly dawned on me that breaking the flow of conversation not only brings Improv to a screeching halt… it also tends to have a similar effect as we make small talk and look for commonality to build other relationships as well.
Hmm… I thought, whether one likes football or not (or for that matter, any other subject), how difficult would it be to simply acknowledge another person’s interest and let the conversation run its course?
You know, just accept the comment, use it as a building block… and move on.
Think how differently the conversation might have gone…
Me: “Did you see the game on Saturday night?”
Him: “No, but I heard it was REALLY something…”
You know, I had only planned to write three articles on this particular topic, but I want to clarify just one other thought tonight… if only for myself.
Earlier this evening, I was thinking about a few interactions I’ve had over the past two days and the role that “asking” played in each. In fact, in each of these conversations I got EXACTLY what I wanted…
Sometimes that answer was, “yes”.
Sometimes that answer was, “no”.
Now I understand that some people are only interested in one type of answer… the one they want :)
But that tends to wipe out most of the reason for asking in the first place.
Now this is not to say we don’t ask for what we want… to be sure, that is a PRIME REASON for asking.
In fact, if we don’t ask for what we want… there is often little chance we will receive it. Most people are simply not that great at mind-reading to know what we’re thinking. And those little tell-all seeds from Gilligan’s Island are in short supply!
Don’t remember? Check out the video below:
You know, I’ve been searching for those seeds since 1966. Ah well. :)
Anyway, ask, and you will receive… an answer.
Some examples, you ask?
I KNEW that’s what you were thinking!
I picked up the phone and called a friend to whom I had recently given some product samples. Might as well have been liquid gold… quite possibly the best nutrition he’s had in 50 years. And I knew he felt great.
His mother, however, is struggling… BIG-TIME health challenges.
I asked my friend if there were any reason we couldn’t get some of these tremendous products to his mom… today.
Three minute phone call…
Out of the clear blue…
Can we or can’t we…
He gave me his credit card info.
I ran into a gentleman yesterday that I suppose I’ve run into 30 or so times over the past five years… we’ll call him Bob.
Now Bob isn’t his real name… but this is a bit personal and I want to respect his privacy. At the same time I don’t want to continuously refer to him as “this guy” or something along those lines, so… Bob it is.
So here’s the deal with Bob… he’s likely dying.
I asked if he were concerned about any aspect of his health. I’m not prying, just asking because I care. I’ve seen the results of these products, so I ask.
He thanks me and then looks at his stomach and says he needs to lose weight. So I ask how it’s going, and he says not so well. So I ask if he’s open to looking at an all-natural product that could likely whack his cravings and balance his metabolism.
150-180 pounds overweight and on a few prescriptions…
High cholesterol and high blood pressure…
Low kidney and liver function… dead sex life.
He said no.
Ask a question… get an answer.
I look forward to hearing what questions you’re asking.
I had just left one appointment last week and was on my way to another. My mind was full of optimism as I considered the possibilities of what was just laid at my feet, and my spirit was full of thankfulness as I, well…
Considered the possibilities of what was just laid at my feet.
The next few hours were going to be wall-to-wall… so I picked up my phone. Here’s what I was thinking:
I really should call Dr. Patti…
She could have such an impact in this Vision…
No, on second thought I REALLY should call my wife.
Snap decision… I called my prospective team member.
Truth is, the traffic was heavy… there were sirens somewhere… I really knew better… I SHOULD NOT have been on the phone at all.
Thought I’d throw in that additional lesson for those who have ears to hear.
Two days earlier, I received a call from a terrific gentleman who retired a few years ago and is looking to do anything to avoid being “done”.
He’s aware of a Harvard Medical breakthrough and some proprietary technology we’ve got our hands on and wants to know more. Actually, he wants a piece of it and I don’t blame him. Further, he’s decided that he’s going to make an impact, if he has anything to say about it… which, of course, he does.
“So, I’m interested to learn more about…”, he said.
At which point I could have begun a ninety-five minute monologue on the science that led up to this discovery followed by another hour and a half or so about where we are headed in the first and second quarter of this year.
And I suppose I could still be talking about the international and charitable aspects we’ll be supporting with the Mission…
But I didn’t.
Instead I clarified… I asked a question.
“Jim,” I said, “There are so many great resources I could share. Specifically, in what aspect are you most interested?”
“Well, I guess I’m interested to know how a guy could get a territory. I believe I could really sell this.”
First, knowing what I know today, I can tell you that there is absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind whatsoever that he is correct. Yes, Jim CAN sell this, and I believe he will help a ton of people and be compensated quite well in the process.
Second, had I not asked a very specific question to clarify the situation, I could have prattled on for a week and a half about every feature and benefit that was most important in MY MIND and I would have missed the one and only thing that mattered most…
…and that is, what was most important in HIS MIND.
Yes… ask, and you shall receive :)
I look forward to hearing from you soon.