The morning after our gig at one of the biggest clubs in Switzerland. Our promoter sat opposite us. With a mouthful of bacon, which he described as the '4 star sh*t right there', he continued with a story about his time with one of my favourite artists of all time.
Marvin Gaye moved to Ostend on Valentine's Day 1981. It was part of his rebirth after a tempestuous period with Motown. His lawyer described Gaye's time in Belgium as 'the best thing that could ever have happened to him' and he subsequently signed a major deal with Columbia and released his biggest ever hit, Sexual Healing.
The promoter had shared time with Marvin in the early 80s and told of a humble man who had one really crucial piece of advice for him.
It has stuck with me ever since as a powerful way to live and isn't what it seems at first glance - it's got more to do with the quality of the time, not the quantity.
I love human connection. The visceral, raw and spirited side of getting to know people, warts and all. An opportunity to find out what gets people up in the morning, what excites them, what unleashes their inner creativity. The common sharing of experiences and passions that bond humans like they did around campfire embers thousands of years ago.
Yet, in this quickfire world where everyone wants their voice, brand or cause to be heard above the noise, we're encouraged to fill those first 5 precious minutes with pitches, product sells and 'here's what I wants'. Before any connection can be made, huge psychological demands are placed on others resulting in an 'I'm oot' before there's even a 'we're in'.
So, next time you have the opportunity to meet someone, no ANYONE new, be insistent that, before you start, you have one question...
Boom! - there it is. Now, watch their response - observe their enlarging pupils, goose pimpled arms and flicks of their hair. Watch them fizz and spark and unleash their true creativity as they become more and more connected to their human side. Then build an emotional connection to that visceral outpouring. Take that moment of enlivened vulnerability and make the other person feel like you truly 'got' them. Our brains are tuned to do this - working inside out to first emotionally connect and then find the rational link later. And yet, we're spending time trying to beat nature at her own game. It's no wonder people feel more disconnected than ever.
Treat these 5 minutes like the precious insight and connection they can create.