Connection is becoming a hot topic in the business world, there is no shortage of great videos, books and articles outlining how connection makes us better leaders and more engaged employees. But if it were that easy, then everyone would be doing it (as the saying goes). So, while connection is key to being able to love not just what you do, but who you do it with (and for), it’s also not as simple as it appears in the headlines. As beautiful human beings we are wired for connection. But what does that even mean?
Connection is unique to each of us – we all have our own distinctive way of connecting, and it begins with being deeply in touch with what you value, your principles and your commitment to living your life with those as your compass. This is not something we are taught in school, seldom are we asked what our purpose in life is. It’s a big question, and it evolves over time. Early in our careers our purpose sounds a lot like “get a job in my field”. Mid-career, your purpose gets more precise and meaningful.
Purpose drives connection to you, and we can only connect with others as deeply as we are connected to ourselves. At work, that connection may feel tenuous or very conditional, especially if you have lost your way and are aimlessly working without a “north star” helping you orient to something meaningful in your work life. A first step in being able to connect to others, is connecting to yourself. What is your purpose?
The second step is being realistic about what connection really looks like. It’s not all “kumbaya” and good vibes. Connection at work means a commitment to staying with what holds meaning for you, for your work and employer; having those all-important difficult conversations with the intention to get to win/win in a world of competing interests and deadlines. Often, when we decide to pursue connection in our work and interpersonal lives, we think our good intentions and positive outlook are all we need. Connection is a path filled with obstacles and it is those obstacles that allow connection to happen at all. How? Unless and until we go through something meaningful together, we are not able to connect with others. Solving for obstacles together (disagreements, problems, constraints) is what fuels connection to others (at work and at home) even when we start on opposite sides of an issue. It’s not just the willingness to reach out and talk, it’s the commitment to having difficult conversations and staying with an emotional field that doesn’t always feel comfortable (yours and others). That is what creates connection.
Connection is key to working life happiness, first with yourself (your purpose) and then with others. What are you connected to in your work?
“Your connections to all the things around you literally define who you are.”