Full text of Marc Jacobson’s talk: 4 Words That Kill Connection at TEDxDerryLondonderryStudio conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Marc Jacobson – Accident survivor
By the end of this talk we will reveal words and ways to communicate that potentially can change your life, your relationships and your ability to connect with people that others would have never thought possible.
Our business is based on connection and our research has discovered these lessons: by deleting FOUR simple words from your vocabulary and injecting their antidotes that will enable people to feel more connected to you.
I would like everyone for a second to close your eyes. Imagine lying on a cold metal table in no pain, one hour after the doctor gives you a 50:50 chance to survive the surgery, or a 50:50 chance that you may never walk again.
What would you promise to beat those odds? And more importantly, if you survived the surgery and could walk again, what would you want your life being like going forward?
Open your eyes.
Eight years ago, after lying on a cold metal table, these questions were upon me. It all began by making a right turn on red, I was suddenly hit from behind by an older driver; she simply just didn’t stop.
Unbeknownst to me, this accident had lit a fuse, a quest, a journey of creating connection with people that I never had before. A week later, I couldn’t raise my left arm. Physical therapy didn’t work, and my night turned into an ER visit.
The orthopedic says, “Good news! Your shoulder isn’t broken; your MRI is perfect; and you need to see a neurologist.”
I said, “Why?” I asked…
He said, “It’s your neck.”
“My neck? My neck feels great. What are you talking about? It’s my arm that’s paralyzed.”
He tells me the best neurologist he knows is about a month out, waiting time; but he’ll make the call for me.
The doctor leaves the room to make the call, which felt like an eternity. Comes back and says, “Tomorrow 8 a.m. at his office.”
This neurologist examines me the next day, I see fear hit his eyes.
“Everything okay, doc?”
He says, “We’re fine.”
My Spidey sense knows differently. He says, “All of your neck vertebrae cervical three to seven are not well. Let’s get you into a CAT scan right away.
The next phone call confirms my fears: he tells me to drive to the hospital as soon as I can, and while driving my head was spinning, fearing I would never be the same after this.
As I walk into the hospital, they immediately take me back. With a paralyzed left arm and a brave smile on my face, I’m hoping for the best.
As they unexpectedly collar me up, the doctor says “There’s a 50:50 chance that you’re not going to survive this operation, and 50:50 that you may never walk again.”
I said in a defending voice, “But doc, there’s no pain.”
He says, “I know, but CAT scans never lie.”
The world suddenly turns gray, and my body goes numb. Knowing this could be the last thing that I ever do, I reach for my phone and i text my two young children my thoughts and my wishes for them.
Being wheeled into surgery faster than I could comprehend, I entered the operating room and placed on a cold metal table. The next minutes were visions of people I wanted in my life and the ones I needed to escape from. My mind had never had such clarity; my thoughts in the last minutes were so clear and so focused that if I survived this, I knew things were going to be different.
The next thing I remember is I hear my name. After nine hours of surgery, I can barely focus: am I alive? am I dreaming?
I hear, “Marc, wake up? You now have four titanium bars, eight titanium screws and four cadaver bones in your neck.”
Everything felt like a slow-motion movie. The doctor asked me to raise my left arm. No problem with that, I can feel it. He says, “Great!”
Before I get excited, he says something that I hope you never hear: “Marc, would you like to see if you could walk?”
And in the most subservient voice I’ve ever uttered, I said ‘I really would.’
Listening to his commands, my legs start to wobble and walk, not well but I’m standing. He says, “Great, get him down.”
This is the part that I’ll never forget that I want to share with you today. The doctor says four things to me, and the fourth lives with me every day.
One: ‘You’re the luckiest person I’ve ever met.’
Two: ‘You shouldn’t be alive.’
Three: ‘You’ve got my best work.’
And fourth: “You have a higher purpose.”
I was stuck in bed for a long time. During this time there was a lot of isolation, and I lost connection with so many people that had taken me years upon years to develop.
For the first time in my life, I realized I could now do what I wanted to do, instead of what I had to do. It didn’t take long for me to become obsessed with connection, and the words that kill it and their antidotes.
It brought me to this experience: whether personal, business or friendship, there are four words that kill connection, and four antidotes that create connection. This perhaps may allow each of you to connect with people who would have never thought to deal with you.
For example, have you ever spent an hour with someone, thought you had a great connection with them, and they never called you back: what is going on here? Let’s explore this deeper.
What does it take to create connection? And more importantly, how can we understand how four simple words can unlock something that you may have thought about since you were a child?
These words are common words that possess power that we don’t think about, the results were fascinating to me, and I want to share them with you, so let’s get to this.
We have all gone to dinner with friends and heard a person say the ‘I’ word one too many times: I did this; I did this; I’m going here thinking to yourself oh my god there’s enough tequila in the room to kill all the pain of this conversation, vowing not to see them again until the ring in your ear stops.
This is a reaction to the word ‘I’. Next time you hear a speech, check out how many times a person says ‘I’ and then check out your feelings about the speech. You may be surprised.
In my opinion, if we replace ‘I’ with either ‘MY’, ‘WE’, or ‘ARE’, there’s a huge difference in how differently you’re perceived. Let me give you an example of the difference.