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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Establishing Deeper Connections with People

Leo Schooling Ryan and Joshua

Through the mist and through the haze we found clarity.

We just returned from a twelve-day whirlwind journey along America’s west coast, a journey that provided clarity to our lives. It was the connection with other people that created that clarity.

We both agree that it was the best trip we’ve ever taken. We flew from Dayton to Portland for an amazing three day World Domination Summit, followed by a few days of roaming the streets of Portland and meeting with some amazing people. We watched Sean Ogle sing karaoke, Leo Babauta give the most authentic presentation we’ve ever seen, Adam and Courtney Baker flawlessly organize the behind the scenes happenings of WDS, Tyler Tervooren guide scores of people on a ‘Hipster Nation’ tour, Tammy and Logan Strobel smile for 72 straight hours as they helped people with questions, and many more amazing people who are relentlessly pursuing their passions. We immersed ourselves in the entire event, including much of the pre- and post-event activities.

Then we drove south down the beautiful Oregon coast towards San Francisco. Along the way, Ryan broke his ankle (long story, but here’s a pic of the moment before he broke it; you can guess what happened), but he didn’t let that spoil the trip. He crutched around San Francisco and the show went on.

We met Leo Babauta for tea under a sun kissed sky in downtown San Fran. That meeting turned out to be an outstanding experience. Our lives are filled with great moments and exciting times, but occasionally we are blessed with a rare peak experience that we never forget, one in which we notice a fundamental shift in our state; and this meeting was one of those peak experiences.

We were supposed to meet for one hour, but the three of us lost track of time, and one hour turned into four. When we left we were sunburned and happy to have created a deeper, more personal connection with each other.

How To Create Deeper Connections

Leo taught us a new way to connect with people, a way that creates a lasting connection, and we want to share that strategy with you.

While we discussed various topics under the California sun, Leo said he wanted to try something he hadn’t tried before. He had recently discovered a technique that creates a bond between two or more people, a technique that gets past the surface-level conversation and builds a lasting bond.

First, he recollected a story of a man who stood up in front of a crowd and told two different stories to his audience. The first story was about a successful, accomplished, award winning, well-respected man. The second story was about a man who grew up poor, had problems and struggles throughout his life, made bad decisions, and was far from perfect.

And then Leo asked us which story we connected with most.

Obviously, we connected with the latter story. As humans, we are flawed, we are imperfect, we make bad decisions, and we struggle with life. We are unique, yet we are one in the same, and we connect with that sameness.

So Leo shared a very personal story of his own with us, one that we obviously won’t share here. We reciprocated, telling our own personal stories of struggle and imperfection and weakness and utter humanity. It is not a coincidence that all three stories were eerily similar, sharing many common themes, themes that describe what it means to be a human being.

We left that meeting knowing more about Leo but also more about ourselves.

We encourage you to employ this strategy when creating a connection with others. It might seem frightening to you at first—it was for us—but it opens you up and allows you to create a different kind of connection with someone.

And thus there was one reason why this was the best trip of our lives: connection. Sure the weather was spectacular and the food was amazing and the places we went were very cool, but it was our connection with other people that stood out among everything else. It was that connection that gave meaning to our journey.