Spring break was last week here in DFW. While I don’t have school-age kids I do have school-age grandkids. More importantly, I have clients who have school-age kids and many of them (check that, almost all of them) took last week off to get in one last vacation before the end of the school year. Quite a few made a trek to Colorado or some other snow-laden environment where skiing and snowboarding happen.
I didn’t operate at full-strength last week (sorry, that’s a hockey reference meaning all 5 skaters are on the ice). Now that we’re into a new week, and folks are back at work, I thought we’d think about the value of stepping away. Vacations. Sabbaticals. Retreats. They’re all forms of stopping the normal, usual and routine. And they’re harder for some than others.
Stepping away. Unplugging. They’re often helpful if we want to more deeply connect. To something or somebody beyond or outside our normal routines. Maybe that’s the power – connecting to something or somebody else outside our routines.
In episode 165 I talked about NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s comments on the mental and emotional health of today’s NBA player. Watch athletes today as they enter the stadiums and arenas. Headphones on. Faces in phones. Connection, which feeds our emotional stability, is increasingly challenged by the need to be plugged in and always ON. But we know this and we’ve all read plenty about how social media platforms are designed to hook us to the rush we get by knowing what’s happening at all times. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a real thing.
The irony is we are missing out. We’re often missing out on deeper conversations. We’re missing out on fueling our curiosity about others. A deep enough curiosity that compels us to engage in conversation, to ask questions and to form deeper connections.
Intimacy has given way to more shallow casual connection. I know what you ate for dinner last night. I know the concert you plan to go to tonight. I see the new clothes you bought. I feed on all these details, but I don’t really know you. I just know what you want me, and the rest of the world, to know. I know how you front to all of us. And you can easily see how I front to others, too. That’s the depth of our connection. We just see the storefront without ever taking the time to walk into the store and peruse the real merchandise.
When we stop fronting with a sincere intention on more deeply connecting with others, or even with ourselves, we gain something more precious than shallow knowledge of what food we’re eating, or what clothes we’re buying or where we’re vacationing.
a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck
Being so plugged in feeds our envy, which in turn weakens our connections because it increases our judgment and discontentment. “Man, you went to Hawaii during Spring Break? I didn’t get to go anywhere.” So it goes.
No need to connect. No need to figure anything else out about you. I’ve got your whole story figured out.
Or do I?
Flip it around. How many people know your whole story? Come on, think about it. Answer it.
One? Two? Five? I’m betting most of us can’t name 5 people who know our whole story. People who understand the total person we really are. People who know and understand our context. But not just people who know us…people willing and able to help us.
Compassion is where it starts. That’s why it’s the first C on my list.
Compassion • Communication • Connection • Collaboration • Culture
Compassion opposes envy and judgment. Until we can establish compassion for each other we’re going to be severely limited in the depth of our communication. Without communication, we can’t truly connect. Not in a meaningful way where we can serve each other.
So today, let’s lift our eyes up beyond our phones and devices. It doesn’t mean we bemoan technology. It’s terrific. We all love it. But it can’t replace human curiosity and compassion. Or the care we need to take to nurture relationships.
Walk around your company today. Call people by name. Shake some hands. Brag on folks. It won’t seem so deep to you, but it’ll be deep to the people you serve. Keep doing it and you’ll find paths to deeper connections over time.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!