“Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them continue as forms of mutual exploitation, a mental or physical barter, to be terminated when one or both parties run out of goods.” – W.H. Auden
Every time you meet someone, you are given a chance to make a connection that can do you some good.If you dont keep that in mind, you may miss an opportunity — maybe even a great one. You just never know. One person knows another person . . . who knows someone else . . . who knows someone else . . . who knows someone who has the answer youve been looking for.
A few years ago, I saw a play called “Six Degrees of Separation.” It explored this phenomenon: that there is a mathematical probability that within six exponential degrees, you have something in common with every stranger.
Even when you use simpler arithmetic, it makes sense: Lets say the average businessperson knows only six people and each of those six people knows only six people. You end up with more than 40 million people within six degrees. Increase the number from six to 20, and you have the worlds population.
Heres the point: Next time you meet someone, ask questions until you make that connection.
I was reminded of the value of this just last week. MT and I were on our way back to the States after visiting a development project were involved with in Nicaragua. (By the way, if you want a great place to retire and can afford $33,000 for a home site with a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, this is it!)
While waiting for our flight, MT stuck up a conversation with three scruffy-looking men. These were not the sort of guys youd expect to connect with, so I wasnt very interested in them at first. Luckily, MT has an intrinsic understanding of the Six Degrees of Separation.
They turned out to be two 40-something surfers and their dad. They were in Nicaragua to surf and to look at some property one of them, JS, had purchased that was about an hours drive from our development.
We swapped Nicaragua stories for a while, and then MT told them about our property. Turns out JS had heard about it from an article SS published in Surf Express magazine. He said he wanted to talk to us about opening a restaurant on our property (hes a restaurant owner in Tampa) and helping us develop a marina. (He owns one of those, too.)
Who wouldda thought?
JS may be part of our future. And our potentially lucrative connection is entirely due to MT, who ignored his crumpled clothes and bearded face and started asking questions.[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]