What does it take to have a great first conversation? While I can only guess as to what that is, I’m going to put my money on not having made any presumptions at all, not only for yourself but for those your speaking to as well.
This is way harder than it sounds. Most business-people will tell you that no conversation can be had without an objective at the outset. On the other hand, those interested in efficiency will say that a conversation where you rediscover the obvious is boring. For me personally, I tend to jump to intellectually-driven responses that can weigh the conversation down.
Occasionally I might get to point out some thing about or to the other person that will surprise them, not necessarily in always a good way or bad way. Perhaps its the discovery of a blind spot, or something valuable, not necessarily rationalized, but true. As in any magic trick you need your partner to make an emotional investment before this is even possible. Its the act of prioritizing our choices that prepares the context for a surprise. This is possible in the form of a question, or even an observation.
Conversations are still a very human act at their center. Practice always.
The most amazing thing about experienced entrepreneurs is their ability to think effectually where instead of trying to predict the future, they make an honest attempt to invent it. Even if the future might appear to be uncertain or unpredictable, an effectual approach helps you quickly learn what you need to do now to change things. Earlier this evening, I had a marathon four-hour session with one such entrepreneur who carefully helped me draw connections between my background, aspirations and ground realities.
Over the last few months leading up to this conversation, I’ve researched books including the Startup of You, and articles on the web including my favorite Do What You Love. The writing merely helped by giving me a language to explain what it was that I expected from my future. Having someone to face and trade idea fits was unique in it’s own way. I came away with clearer options, and a bonus refreshed perspective on the same challenges that I earlier felt might be dead-ends.
There is still a whole lot of doing that remains before I can claim that the challenge has been won. This post is really to thank and to underline all that went into making this conversation possible. Common friends, common events, one-on-one discussions, email and phone exchanges that stretch out for well over a year. The threads of our journeys intermingle with so many different people we engage with at work and home. I can’t help but believe that this rich fabric might know some things about you that will surprise you as well.
Finally, both of us did not come into the discussion expecting this. It wouldn’t have been possible to have this conversation and its outcome if he did not firmly believe in the creative practice which teaches respect for intuition and encourages you to recognize that what we expect, and the practice itself are independent and yet interdependent. Without that freedom we make it difficult to welcome new objectives, or new goals that emerge out of any discussion on what is and what can be.
I hope that my own experience will convince you to see all those around you with a refreshed perspective.