Eleven strangers have helped me discover who I am, what I’m capable of, and what my contribution to the world is.

These women have unequivocally changed the course of my life. But they weren’t family, friends, colleagues or even acquaintances. Three years ago they were complete strangers.

At twenty-eight, I looked within my company and industry for mentors and sought advice from friends, colleagues and family. The diversity of ideas, thoughts and life experiences that surrounded me was directly tied to my network.

Even as I looked to diversify, my reach was limited to what I knew. It was impossible for me to reach for what I didn’t know existed. What I didn’t know I needed.

With distinct world views, life experiences and inherit wisdom, eleven women from the Generative Council entered my life during a time of contemplation, reflection and transition.

Inside, an inner conflict was brewing. There was an emptiness and dissonance that I couldn’t talk openly about with those in my day-to-day circle. I longed for change but didn’t know what direction to explore first.

Ranging in age from 30 to 64, the unconditional support, love and encouragement these women provided is exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

Life is supposed to be an experiment. These eleven women offered me a safe space to explore and innovate on my life. To experiment with my future. To give voice to the crazy dreams and thoughts I that I didn’t dare say out loud to those close to me.

Instead of offering answers or advice based on past experiences, they helped me find my own. They lovingly held me to my highest possibility, challenged me to dream big and gave me an oversized serving of humble pie when I needed it most. They sparked questions I didn’t know I had, and inspired me to reach into the unknown.

After three years I’m finally beginning to understand that what emerged was a new, deeper and more influential form of mentorship. Traditionally the role of mentorship is to help us succeed in our careers. The Generative Council offered mentorship in life. Mentorship in being fully alive and present in my one and only life on Earth.

Regardless of our age, we rarely get the opportunity to develop deep, meaningful and intentional relationships with those outside of our daily circles of work, family and friends. Whether you are 22 or 62, here are five compelling reasons to seek connection with (and spill your guts out to) a group of strangers.

1. CREATIVITY

Your ideas are shaped by the people you surround yourself with. Exchanging dreams, thoughts and experiences with others helps boost creativity. If you want to maximize your creativity you have to seek out people with ideas and experiences you’ve never had or never even heard of.

2. INNOVATION

If you want to break out of the status quo there is no better venue. A supportive and caring group will encourage you to dream big and hold you to your highest possibility. Innovation requires throwing out the rules and your current circumstances or limitations. Often we can’t push the boundaries of possibility or take as many creative liberties when those around us are tied to the outcome.

4. STRAIGHT SHOOTER

Strangers can often help us see what we can’t see for ourselves – our strengths, weaknesses and unique gifts. Sometimes it’s downright uncanny how well a stranger can see something inside us emerging before we can. Personally, I’m more open to receiving information from strangers because it is pure and isn’t colored by obligations or previous interactions.

5. NO BAGGAGE

The great thing about strangers is there is no baggage. They accept you for who you are and who you want to be, not who they think you should be. It’s a lot easier to pour your heart out to a stranger than your closest friend. Why? Because you aren’t emotionally attached to their response.

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”left” width=”640″ height=”150″]https://natureleadership.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/talk-to-strangers.jpg[/image_frame]

I talk to strangers, do you?

Tell me about your experience and what you’ve learned in the comments section below. I’d love to hear about it and compare stories!