Once identified, the lifeline needs to be eased into the process.
The benefit of a long, slow dinner is that the clock stops. No rush to meet a deadline, etc. When the clock stops, people start letting down their defenses.
In reality, it need not be “one” meal. It could be several, or a process over several months.
What is the purpose of this “long dinner”?
- Each of you recognizes a need in your lives to change and achieve more.
- That you are interested in working together as partners to help achieve your mutual goals.
- That each of you is willing to put your needs on the table, for the good of the partnership.
- That you both recognize the benefits of such a relationship.
- That you are both committed to honesty, rigor and self reflection.
- That you are willing to not let each other fail.
It need not be a dinner. Just get people out of their usual environment.
When meeting with such a candidate (e.g. over the long dinner), pretend he is already a lifeline and dive right in. No explanation or preamble. Don’t let the first impression be the final decision, though. Keep trying.
In the first meeting, find a way to ask for candid feedback: “I’d love to hear if you think there is anything that would benefit me and that lack of is currently holding me back?”
If the dinner went well, at the end, ask if the other can hold you accountable for something. See if you can reciprocate. See how that goes in the subsequent weeks.
Don’t leave the dinner without setting up another time to touch base.
Note: They or you having busy lives is not an excuse for irregular and infrequent meetings. Remember, you need people who’ve got your back!