Here are three connected insights that have really helped improve my perspective. They all have to do with people and the value of relationships.
Personally, I could tinker away on projects for years sequestered alone in a room.
It took a long time for me to finally learn (from someone very special) that not only are people more important than projects, but people are truly the whole purpose for projects in the first place.
Value is created for people; it’s added to people.
In the end, people are my project.
But people are weird and unpredictable. And many (maybe most) don’t care.
One night at a random get-together, I was failing to step out and connect. I’d try to say something, then get all awkward, retreat, and wonder what was wrong with me.
A certain idiot savant family member noticed my failings; he pulled me aside and said, “Dude, there are some people you’ll easily connect with right away; and there are some you’ll never naturally connect with. And that’s ok.”
So I stopped trying to force it.
Now I build the value I build in order to connect with those I can connect with.
But I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to write anyone off, even when communication is a rocky sea of hostile talk-overs and wrong-assumption rabbit trails.
Two weeks ago, I was listening to an audio book called How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes, and she said something I’ll never forget: that the purpose of small talk has nothing to do with the words being said. The words don’t matter. The purpose of small talk is for the sound—the comfort of hearing your voice together (in tune) with someone else’s, like instruments joining to make music.
Now I look forward to conversations I once would have dreaded: a chance to make music with someone who might be from [or headed for] a world impossibly disconnected from my own.