Let’s do lunch… no, really

The first time I sat down to read this book, I was in an airplane headed to a 3-day personal growth seminar that would change my life forever. I realized, from a rational stance, that the value of life was in relationships but I felt oddly separate from the whole experience. As I began to read the book, it was difficult to sink my teeth into it. My life was pretty lonely and the thought of taking on something even 1/10th the caliber of Keith Ferrazzi’s social network seemed more than daunting…

It seemed impossible.

Over the next couple of years, as I emerged from a life stalled by gluten-induced anxiety and poor health, I began to realize that socializing was the very best way to experience everything. As I learned to be at ease with myself, the bright orange cover of this book began to call out to me on the shelf. Still, I ignored it.

It had been three years since I first cradled the book on that plane ride when I added it the list for the Great Book Reading Project. Honestly, most of the books on that list have an epic story of their own: how they came into my life, why I’ve put off reading them despite a genuine curiosity about them, and so on. It’s funny how deciding to put something off even for a few days can turn into a lifetime commitment of procrastination

Anyway, I’ve read it now. One less thing on my to-do list; one more life lesson hard-bound and perfectly punctuated. It’s exactly what I expected it to be: easy to read, honest and mildly challenging. People have a lot of preconcieved notions about how and why to connect with others. A lot of those notions are simply misperceptions; easily fixed by a change in perspective. While I doubt that girl in the airplane would have been able to understand, today Ferrazzi is just preaching to the choir…

Nothing like a divorce and a year and half of layoffs and perpetual ego-checks to make you realize that people, and the quality of your connection with them, are paramount. Some people just prefer to learn life’s lessons organically…

For those who are not ‘in the choir,’ it will be an eye-opener. It is full of ideas on how to be (more) interesting, how to make contact, how to stay connected, how to build something worthwhile with others and so on. It has great real-world examples of the power of relationships, humbling moments and how often the most valuable of connections happen by accident.

Toward the end of the book, as he addresses reader’s possible objections and doubts, Ferrazzi challenges the mainstream myth of “balance.” I nearly threw down the book and cheered! What is balance but keeping your life segmented into bits and bobs? It’s perfection masquerading as an achievable goal. It’s utter madness.

At the constant peril of burnout, I choose to fill almost every moment of my day with others (and a little bit of downtime to process it all). Whether it be work, chores or a long hike… it’s all better with loved ones. At work the next day after finishing the book, I let the edges between work and play blur and began – once again – to reach out. I’ve got my fingers crossed that colleagues and old friends remember me fondly and are interested in… oh I don’t know… going out to eat sometime?

Tagged with:
One comment on “Let’s do lunch… no, really
  1. Stacey Nelson says:

    We just talked about this book at my book club meeting, but it was more in passing (not an in depth analysis). Several people said they liked it. Based on your summary, this correlates with “The Art of Happiness” and the importance of connections with others. I look forward to reading it.