Ian Bremmer starts his book ‘The Power of Crisis’ with an interesting anecdote. He writes:
“Away from the cameras and warmed by the fire, Ronald Reagan opened his first private conversation with Mikhail Gorbachev with a startling question: “What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?”
Gorbachev didn’t hesitate. “No doubt about it,” he replied.
“We would too,” Reagan assured him. That moment took place in a cabin in Geneva on November 19, 1985.
It wasn’t publicly known until Gorbachev told the story in front of a live audience at the Rainbow Room in New York City in March 2009. Only Reagan, Gorbachev, and their interpreters were present when that first exchange took place.
Why did that interaction led to a breakthrough of the highest magnitude between two hostile, nuclear-armed enemies on various aspects of vital importance for both countries?
How did this interaction open the realms of cooperation and coordination between sworn enemies who completely distrusted each other?
Gorbachev said that their first private chat was an important moment for relations between the two men, leaders of the world’s two superpowers.
While it certainly didn’t guarantee peace or remake the Cold War, but it sowed the seeds of trust and goodwill between them.
Reagan’s question and Gorbachev’s answer laid the foundation for a working relationship that had never before existed between US and Soviet leaders.
This anecdote makes me think what can I do to bridge gaps that exist between me and ‘people I love’ but we are standing a long distance apart for various reasons rooted in the past.
For me, this anecdote has top class humility, brilliant communication skills, outstanding visionary minds together, and an amazing willingness to heal and be healed.