Great conversations immunise you against stress & fatigue

The Renaissance Hotel, Orlando, Florida, Midnight September 15.

It’s the midnight hour. I should be sleeping because I’m on the Air Canada flight back to Toronto in eight hours. But I can’t. I’m wound too tight. It’s been a mad weekend. I flew into Miami on Friday. Then I drove to Fort Lauderdale for a dinner with my great friend and Client, Ken Allen, CEO of DHL USA. The following morning, we had a three hour conversation on strategy, execution and people. Then I drove up to Orlando for a session with Deloitte Consulting. I’ve just finished a high-impact program with 500 of their best and brightest people on personal branding. After the session, I went from table to table and engaged in exhilirating conversations about Life, Love, Work, Money, and the Pursuit of Happiness. The Dutch beer and the Californian Shiraz helped the words go down even smoother.

I’m exhilirated. I crave the replenishing oblivion of sleep but I’m still flying high on adrenaline. So I’m using the afterburn to fuel these words with you. I’m squeezing the last drops of conversation out of my remaining mojo. The truth is that Conversation is my drug of choice.  Every time I engage in a great conversation, I’m energised. I’m ready to take on anything!!

So what’s a great conversation? It’s an exchange of insights that expands your capacity to handle life. It could be a conversation with a random stranger or a best friend. But it’s characterised by an intention to contribute as well as an “AHA” – a realisation that you’ve just learnt something valuable that you can use and share with others. This weekend, I’ve overdosed on great conversations. I’m satiated with learning. I’m pumped full of other people’s energy.

How do you have a great conversation? You have to earn it. You have to be worthy of other people’s time. You have to authentically love them and their points of view. You have to ask the right questions: Why? How? What? And you have to listen with total absorption and curiosity. You have to let them speak and then, when they’re ready to hear you, you have offer your own opinions with clarity and conviction. You have to show your enjoyment and interest in the conversation. Most of all, you have to eliminate right and wrong from the equation.

Today, seek out great conversations with everyone. If you look for them, they will come. And when they do, they will delight you so you can do the same for someone else.

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