I just love being around interesting people!
One of my very dear friends is a gentleman named Andrew Sanderbeck. He and his wife Michelle live in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Andrew is a special guy!
We met back in 2003. We were both speaking at a management conference that was being held in several Northeastern cities including Atlantic City and Providence, RI. We were to meet at an airport in the baggage claim area, grab a rental car, and head to the hotel where the conference was being held the next day.
I had never seen Andrew before, so I had no idea what he looked like. I was standing at baggage claim, waiting for my bag, and looking around for anyone who looked like a speaker. No one I saw fit that bill, so I called the number I had for him.
“Hi Andrew, this is Robert Mallon. We’re supposed to meet down at baggage claim. Where are you right now?”
“I’m at baggage claim. Where are you?”
“I’m at baggage claim too. What do you look like?”
We kept this dialogue up for about 30 more seconds, turned around, and saw that we were about five feet away from one another—each with the phone to our ear. We smiled, put the phones away, and shook hands.
After grabbing our bags, we proceeded to National, and rented a car. We had about a 45-minute ride to the venue in Atlantic City.
Usually when I meet someone for the first time; especially if I have to be with him or her for an extended amount of time, I’m a little shy at the beginning. I’m somewhere between an extravert and an introvert. This time it was different though. We hit it off immediately! We dove deep into a conversation quickly. Within about 20 minutes, I said something to Andrew like, “We’re the same person!” I had realized that we have the same passions and interests, and that our missions in life were very similar.
During the ride over, we began to talk about goals. I don’t know how that subject came up, but it did. When I asked Andrew what his big goal was, he said:
“To have a friend in every country in the world. Not just an acquaintance, but a true, close friend!”
WOW! I’d never heard a goal that was size. The more I thought of it, the more it began to inspire me. As a matter of fact, it blew me away! “A close friend in every country!”
According to the best data out there, there are 196 countries on the face of the planet. That’s a big number!
But more importantly, the way Andrew described the word “close” was the real inspiring part to me. He told me that he didn’t count acquaintances in his number. “Close to him” meant that they were sharing life together—that they were close and that they knew each other on more than just a superficial or shallow level. Close also meant that they were investing in each other.
In the 70’s I’d have told you that he was “blowing my mind.”
I decided then and there that Andrew and I were going to be friends. That way he’d have the United States covered!
Fast forward to today…
Andrew and I have been very close friends now for eight years now. I trust Andrew and I trust his counsel. He’s got a lot of wisdom. I respect him on both a personal and professional level.
We were having a conversation the other day and I brought this goal back up to him. I asked him how he was doing on it. He told me that he keeps a spreadsheet on the goal and now has over 80 people from around the world who he is close friends with.
I asked him how he was doing it—what his method was.
“There’s no method. One way of accomplishing this goal is not necessarily the right way.” For him, it’s fluid. Every friendship has had it’s own path.
I asked him what motivated him towards accomplishing this goal.
“We’re so focused on separation in this world—we’re all about protecting our borders and boundaries. We have different languages that divide groups of people. It’s all about keeping “other” people out. I want my life to be about ‘connecting’ people—to being a conduit for people to learn to live together.”
It’s no wonder that his training and speaking company is called The People Connect Institute.
His goal inspires me, and I hope it inspires you too. Maybe your goal has nothing to do with friendships around the world. But I hope that Andrew’s goal shows you that you too can have a “Big” Goal.
I want to hear what your “Big Goal” is. Seriously! Don’t take this lightly. I want you to write one down and send it to me. If you don’t do it today, you won’t do it. Take some time and think about what you really want. Once you put it on paper (or in your reply to me) it becomes real.
He has 80 friends around the world.
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