THE BLOG

How to Make Friends and Inspire People

09/17/2013 12:27 EDT | Updated 11/17/2013 05:12 EST

Have you seen the movie Finding Nemo?

In my opinion, it's one of the best animated films ever. Plus, many years ago I was an avid scuba diver and this lovely movie brings my happy memories of diving to life.

Yesterday evening, I switched on the TV to briefly check the news and Finding Nemo was on, and of course, I was drawn in and captivated, just as I have been many times before. And as I watched Dory (the adorable blue tang with short-term memory issues) and Marlin (Nemo's fearful and anxious clownfish father), I was reminded of a 'formula' I read years ago in Christine Comaford's enjoyable book Rules for Renegadesthat has always stayed with me:

Life = the people you meet + what you create together

Read that again and really let it sink in. Isn't that simply beautiful, and so very true?

If you think about the chance meeting, journey and subsequent unlikely bond and friendship that developed between Dory and Marlin, two polar opposite fish/personalities, it's an incredibly accurate depiction of how often real life can be the same...even with a few sharks along the way!

How we tend to operate in the world, is often just like Marlin the clownfish did at first:

• We separate ourselves from others because we believe that that's a sign of strength, and that needing another is a sign of weakness.

• We're all busy hiding and putting on a front, worried that we will be found out.

• We stick to people just like us because it feels easier, and we tend to avoid those that seem different from us.

Yet in reality, as Marlin and Dory's friendship and collaboration to find little Nemo proved:

• Connectedness only happens through vulnerability.

• Each of us is desperate to contribute and to be part of something bigger than us.

• We actually feel more alone that we are willing to admit, and it's only when we admit it that we find a sense of relief from it, and realize that we're not truly alone.

So, you're wondering how this applies to you, right?

Think about a time when you created something amazing or were part of something extraordinary. It might have been a project at school or work. You might have launched a new product, a new initiative or a new company based on a "crazy idea" hatched between two or a handful of people.

If you stop and think about it, we are surrounded by stories of extraordinary things that happen simply because of the people that happened to meet, and what they went on to create together.

Some of the most famous examples happen to be in music.

A 15-year-old Paul McCartney met John Lennon and joined his band the Silver Beatles which soon became The Beatles. Childhood friends Mick Jagger and Keith Richards shared a love of traditional blues and soul music and created The Rolling Stones, one of the biggest bands in history that continues to tour today.

And of course there are great examples in the world of business, Apple and Google are just two.

Here's the thing. You don't have to create the next Beatles, Apple or start a global charity.

But just like Dory and Marlin, the best thing you can do for yourself is:

• Be willing and open to connecting with people who are different from you.

• Put yourself into situations where you can actually meet new people.

• Allow your imagination and sense of adventure to help you step outside of your comfort zone...and stop worrying about what somebody might think of you. Chances are they're too busy worrying about themselves!

Bottom line, it all starts with a conversation. A real, open and honest conversation about something that really lights you up. When you speak up and share that, you just never know who you might inspire. And you just never know what you and that other person might end up creating together.

Here are three easy things you could consider doing today or this week to create something new:

1. Have lunch with someone at the office you don't know very well or at all. You might exchange friendly nods and smiles in the hallway, but you've never really connected. Reach out to him or her today with a friendly note suggesting lunch, and get to know them.

2. Volunteer. Think of a cause that moves you, find the next event they are running and go. It's that simple. Trust me, you have the time. It's just a couple of hours.

3. Start something you've been meaning to start and put it out there. It could be a book club, a food or wine club, or a walking group. Start it. Put it out to your network and see it take off.

So, what are you waiting for?