I talk with people on planes.
In fact, if I have a short flight with a 3-to-a-row setup, sometimes I'll choose the middle seat to better my odds of meeting someone interesting.
I remember once scaring someone as we settled in for a 4-hour flight out of Phoenix. He had the aisle seat and I had the window.
I was standing behind him before we sat down. He was getting settled with his computer and pulled out his headphones.
“You won't need those,” I said.
He gave me an UH-OH look with a half-laugh, and then responded politely, “I'm kind of a headphones kind of guy.”
I put him at ease and let him know I was joking. But, we ended up talking business, employee engagement, and customer care for the entire flight ... 4 hours of two-way learning and thinking of ways to improve things (212ing things). He was responsible for the business of a large hotel chain.
It was a great conversation, and it's the kind of thing that can happen all the time if you're open to it and practice it. (With time, you can get really good at it.)
I share this with you to encourage you to make more contact with the people around you ... even when you're on a plane.
Connecting with people can lead to so many good things. (See below for two of my favorite things I've learned on planes over the years.)
Connecting with people is how we hear things and learn things. It's how we develop the relationships that lead to so much of what we enjoy ... more opportunities, better experiences, better results.
Sometimes, it just leads to hearing a great story out of someone’s life.
And if you're a leader, you know connecting with people is a big piece of what makes good things happen. ( Lead Simply fans: Invest 2 minutes to reread pages 21 - 23 for an important reminder of what you can do today.)
Pace your expectations on this, of course.
Every connection with another human being won't always be a wonderful experience. And particularly on planes, when you’re shoulder to shoulder with someone for an hour or three, you'll sometimes wish you hadn't started the conversation. (Don’t let that keep you from trying!)
In the long run ... know that connecting with people invites so much good. More below...
From the air, favorite #1...
A couple years ago, I spoke in Vancouver, BC to a large group of people that sell dental implants. On the way home, karma put me next to a dentist who was on her way to a conference in Chicago (to better her skills at putting in dental implants). She had a practice with about 20 employees. We talked business, employee engagement, professional development, parenting, and dental hygiene.
A great discussion, but the gold I've shared most ... her analogy that turned me (a former once-a-week flosser at best) and many of the people I've shared it with into committed once-a-day flossers is this...
“Brushing your teeth but not flossing is like taking a shower and just washing the front of your belly and the small of your back. It doesn't get the smelly bits.”
A half-century with a bad habit, and she changed me permanently with two sentences. (It was as powerful for me as 212's first 25 words are for millions of people.)
On a flight into Newark (around a Thanksgiving), a guy shared with me how he and his wife try very deliberately to 'do a mitzvah' every day. I'm not sure he said it exactly like that ... 'do a mitzvah' ... but the idea stuck with me.
He explained to me that a mitzvah in the Jewish faith is an act of human kindness for someone else ... for no real reason other than to do something kind.
At the end of each day, he and his wife's mitzvahs become part of their conversation (which I'm guessing inspires more good things and more mitzvahs).
Which reminds me of this idea from A.J. Jacobs (an American journalist)...
“I had always thought, 'You change your mind, and you change your behavior,' but it's often the other way around. You change your behavior... and you change your mind.”
Jacobs shared that thought during a talk on his ‘Year of Living Biblically’ (literally). He also learned that when he ‘pretended to be a better person, he became a little bit better of a person.’
When you have 17 minutes outside the money hours or on a well-earned break, you might enjoy Jacobs' talk below. If you don't have the time, he begins the thought above at 5:50. A solid lesson.