Since starting my own business about a month ago, I have found myself connecting and reconnecting with so many people. I love it! I am unaccustomed to work that brings me closer to people. In previous jobs, I was in a constant struggle between work and social gatherings. I always had people surrounding me, but I interacted with all of these people mostly on a surface, get-the-job-done level.
Truly Connecting vs. Surface Pleasantries
When was the last time you took time out to have a nice, long dinner with your parents? Do you know what their joys and concerns were during the past week? What about your closest friends?
It’s tough to make time for those we care about, let alone quality time for them. Now that I have experienced that quality time for a few weeks, I would feel lost without it. I realize many people do not have parents to talk with, nor any of their closest friends within driving distance. Time is such a precious thing, and we never know how many more opportunities we will have to truly connect with those we care about.
If it’s so important, then just do it! Carve out the time, turn off the phone, and engage in real conversation. And, while we all like to be heard, we must listen more than talk. True, it is easy to make this demand now that I have a career that supports, and even thrives on, building relationships. However, I have been on the other side too and know that connecting with those we care about has to happen, even if it’s just once every couple of months.
Random is Not So Random
In addition to connecting with those already close to me, I enjoy networking and meeting new people. Throw me in a room full of strangers, and I am in my element. You just never know who you will have the opportunity to meet.
Do you ever stop to appreciate all of the seemingly random people you meet who turn out to be phenomenal forces in your life? That person you just met or reconnected with might have a new opportunity for you, whether it’s in business, for fun, or as a link to others who may have a huge impact on your life.
If you doubt the impact that seemingly meaningless encounters with random people have on your life, then read The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. It’s a powerful account of how we underestimate our impact on others, and their impact on us.
Leverage Your Time
Where can we find the time to do all of this reconnecting? Yes, it is about setting priorities, and all of that stuff I talked about in a previous post. It is also about leveraging your time. If you travel for work and know people in the cities you are visiting, then call them up and get together. It is easier than you think. A full-blown event is not necessary – just meet at a coffee shop or for a late drink. The person you contacted will be happy you made the time for him or her, and you will receive a much needed break from work. It’s a win-win!
If you aren’t traveling regularly and have friends/family far away, then send a card or make a phone call. Reaching out does not have to be painful. Remember, it’s the thought that counts.
No one is mutually exclusive, unless you know two people who absolutely do not get along. So, mix your groups of friends and family! Why have four gatherings when they can all come to one? I had one large baby shower for my sister – immediate family, extended family, in-laws, her friends, my friends, you name it. It was a hit. My friend Jen has perfected this art and is the one who showed me how to make it work. Whenever she has a busy day and I am visiting, I tag along and meet new people. Thanks to Jen, I have truly connected with her family and a few of her friends in Kansas City, and my life is better having known these people.
You Never Know…..
Our relationships with others help to define who we are. We cannot do everything alone, nor should we do everything alone. Even if you don’t consider yourself a social butterfly, stay connected with those few people who mean the most to you. I guarantee you will never regret taking the time to connect with positive people in your life. If I had not made the time to meet with an old high school classmate two years ago, during the height of the 2008 campaign season, I probably would not have started my own business this year (and I might still have foot issues – thanks Dr. Wakeman!).
“There are no random acts…We are all connected…You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind…”
– Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven