When we talk about making connections in business, we generally mean “networking” – a term that’s grown to mean that we form bonds with others with the idea that we’ll help each other along a certain path depending on the skills, knowledge and extended connections each person brings to the table.
Within the realm of “Connections”, there are different types of people. The great majority go out to make new connections with the thought that they may help us, rather than how we can help them. It’s far easier to see others in terms of how they fit in with what we’re trying to achieve rather than how we may help them. There are a small number of people who seem to have their mindset permanently flipped around and who are all about putting other people together to solve a common problem. We literally refer to them as “Connectors”. As in “Oh, So-And-So….he’s a Connector.” – like we recognise a special power in them.
And then December arrives…..
Each year, December seems to bring with it a strange mix of emotions. An anticipation of the end of a year and a new one coming – time seems to have sped up as we rush towards the end of the current year and the Christmas shutdown. For some, there is the excited expectation of a holiday and some downtime. For others there is dread of that downtime and the gathering of family dynamics that pool in it and will need to be managed (as if that’s possible!). There is the evaluation of the year that’s ending and whether it went to plan or not. Wins, losses, draws. For many, there is a cumulative fatigue that comes with the passing of another year and everything it’s held.
I personally think that December is the most illusive “holiday” of all. It reminds us of endings and that a new beginning is rushing towards us, whether we’re prepared for it or not. It highlights the relationships between ourselves and those we are connected to – be they at work as they all disperse to their relative spaces, or at home as they reconvene. “Producing Christmas” can be one of the most exhausting exercises of the year for those abundant enough to have something to produce. For others it is a time that highlights need.
Whatever the case, December forces a pause and presents us with numerous barometers by which to measure our level of CONNECTION. Sean Stephenson said “Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity.”
What if we were to take December for all its intricacies and allow it to test one thing alone for us – our level of Connection? I believe that’s what it’s doing for us, whether we recognise it or not. Whether we feel it or try and power through it in denial. The year-end tests whether we’ve been connected to our goals for the year – whether we conquered them, or they conquered us. The new year coming tests our connection to what our ongoing goals may be and what our level of commitment is to those goals. The dis-ease people feel about the Christmas holiday often comes from a subconscious recognition of the state of connection within the various relationships that surround them.
If we took on this challenge and allowed December to show us everything it magnifies, how then would we evaluate our connections? Danny Silk, who is a king of connection, suggests asking these three questions with regards to people (I think they apply to all human relations, whether business or personal):
- Is there a healthy exchange of truth in this relationship?
- What is the level of safety in this relationship?
- Am I listening to understand and staying willing to adjust?
These three questions and their considered answers provide us with a framework to assess and improve our connections with others, whether they happen to be in our office or around our dinner table. Whenever we talk about nurturing the human connection, that foundation upon which we theoretically build all else, there tends to be a feeling that you’d have to slow down to do that. That whatever process or outcome you were trying to achieve would have to slow in order to facilitate that foundation. What if we allow December to be that slowing. That building.
And what about our goals. The goals for the year that’s past. Our goals for the year that’s coming. Assessing these things allow us to put down the load that we’ve carried with us and added to through out the year. To unpack it, examine it and put it to rest. To gain the lessons and to discard the rest. And to breath.
If you do nothing else with December, find some space to breath. How can you greet the coming year still holding your breath from the last? Breath out. Pause. Take a few deeps ones. Feel whatever they bring with them. But the baggage down. Examine your answers to the above thoughts about relationships and goals.
And then resolve to use this new year coming to connect.
Connect with yourself.
Connect with your needs.
Connect with your goals
Connect with your people.
Connect with your gifts.
Connect with your purpose.
Connect with what you can give.
Connect with what you want this coming year to look like.
Put connection first. And then, when the new year comes, go out and do THAT. Allow humanity in and share it around. Allow yourself to see what affects you and what affects others. Choose to communicate for connection – not just to get the job done.
By Christen Killick
4 December 2017