I reflect on what an extraordinary past few months it’s been, looking at what great opportunities 2018 brought and looking even further forward on what a wonderfully fast start its been to 2019. The key highlight, ‘connecting with people’.
I have been truly blessed over the past few months to spend special moments with family a few times last year, fortunate to see friends I haven’t seen in years, connected with mentors, teachers, previous colleagues and even an iconic sportsman! With the most amazing team in my role leading EMEA/JAPAC, engaging customers across this region driving our customer marketing strategy forward, and kicking off my PhD in Management Sciences with some of the smartest executives I have met across the globe, has brought me significant joy. The common thread, people! People are what make us come alive, and coming together, unified across the globe to share knowledge, moments and experiences is the ultimate. The most important person, being grateful to have an amazing husband, who supports me in being the greatest version of me! Just a quick connect with him during the day, re-fuels my soul.
Make every moment count is my life’s mantra and being a global citizen and connecting with people across the world is what makes me get up in the morning, people make us grow. It makes sense, as to why I love travelling so much, meeting new people and learning about new cultures. Learning from others, getting a different point of view, understanding the true meaning of ‘point of reference’ as my reference point will differ to yours, (and personally, if there is one thing I can’t stand, is people who impose their opinion on you and don’t take the time out to look at things differently), shared values or possibly learning what people you surround yourself with and what people to just not allow within your circle, are all key lessons to learn.
Over the years I have come to learn that you won’t always like or get along with people in your work, family or friends circle, but knowing when to connect with which person, and how best to do so is key, and even when to cut your losses and to break ties are important too, ‘pick your battles’ is indeed a lesson I have come to learn.
Even though I have always been an avid believer in ‘connect to create’, in both business and family environments we sometimes must learn to let go of relationships you have tried to build or strengthen, and it brings you less joy and as such less overall happiness. It’s okay to admit this and to acknowledge it.
Having a positive peer group provides one with a balanced perspective by serving as a sounding board. It can become very easy to become isolated with one’s own thoughts and feelings and connecting with others can offer objective feedback and support but doing this with people you ‘trust’ is vital.
The reason, I believe, is that we all need to feel connected. Study after study reports that as social animals, humans need each other. We need to feel supported, valued, and loved. Those who have good relationships are happier, healthier, and live longer than those who report feeling lonely.
When I think of my own experiences, it’s amazing how connecting with someone, even briefly, can give me what I need to soldier on. For example, there are times I’ve felt a tad down for no reason (especially on those winter days where leaving home is dark and returning from home is even darker). My phone rings. My impulse is to answer it, but you feel as if you don’t want to, and you answer. I hear a good friend’s voice on the other end, just calling to say hello. We chat for a few minutes and say our good-byes. My spirits have been lifted. I am energised.
Working from home can have you experiencing this even more so, but when you’re having to connect as early as 6.00/7.00 am on a Monday morning, it can be challenging, so I decide to take a walk outside of the house and greet my local neighbours, at the local supermarket store, you come across the same faces as you walk down the road as they get on the bus, and even when you walk into the tube station, you greet the transport representative as you enter, you grab your coffee and greet the familiar face that helps you this time every morning, and just these few touch points, makes your day much better and leaves you happier than you had been feeling before your phone rang.
We often think of connecting with others as having heart-to-heart talks where we share our deepest thoughts and emotions or open-up about hard-to-discuss feelings or events in our lives. This is certainly connecting and is important for us all to do at times.
But connections can also be as simple as my walk. A pleasant interaction with familiar faces and a shared smile, even a text message to a family member, can; to some degree, satisfy our innate need for community.
Unfortunately, many of us have almost totally replaced our face-to-face connections with virtual ones. We rack up friends on social media and join all kinds of virtual community groups. We shop online, limiting those pleasant interactions with store employees mentioned above. In fact, we often pride ourselves on our independence, on focusing solely on our own aspirations and desires, and ideally on not needing anyone else. This trajectory might lead us to our personal goals, such as a successful career, but just might leave us feeling lonely as well.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard to reach our goals. I just think there needs to be a balance. In living our lives and pursuing our dreams, we need to recognise how important basic human connections are to our well-being. Once we realise this, we can consciously work toward making these connections that are sure to enhance our lives. And it just might be as simple as going outside for a walk.
This willingness to share, to contribute, to help each other is an important facet of lasting relationships. Perhaps the most important thing you ever do in life is build and maintain long-term, happy, healthy, fulfilling relationships with other people you love and who love you.
Human connection brings complex values to our lives: relationships give us a sense of belonging in the group, a sense of identity in contrast to others in that group, an almost therapeutic-support system, and reason not to feel lonely.
Making connections is just an additional way to describe learning how things are related to each other and how the physical world works. As young children grow and develop, they learn to make connections to understand and master their worlds and so too, we as adults need to continue to do the same. Connecting with humans in person is important and will continue to be important for the success and ultimate happiness in our lives.