The Power of Connection

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by Steve Holt on September 21, 2012

$42.18. That was the price of the meal that we shared, but that was a small price to pay for what I actually got.

We’ve all been there.  The business dinner that you really don’t want to go to but you feel obligated to go to it, or maybe even required to go.  The forced small talk, the fake smiles, everyone checking their cellphones out of habit or a desire to avoid more eye contact. Sound familiar?  This is all too often the case today because I believe we are slowly starting to lose the art of the personal connection, and we are missing the point of these unique occasions to make connections.

I am a technology guy, no doubt. I make my living off of using technology and sharing with others how to do so. So I love talking about the latest and greatest thing. But I am also a pragmatist, and I know that despite the warm glow we get from all this technology, there is a dark side too. We may not know for decades the lasting affects that this constantly-connected world is going to have on ours and our children’s ability to think, reason, solve problems, and work. But I can already see things I don’t like.

For example, if given the option of calling versus emailing and texting, too often we choose the latter. Young people are the worst about this, as it is almost impossible to contact them unless you text them something. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part young people are becoming islands in the middle of a crowd. And adults are not far behind them. I have to force myself sometimes to pick up the phone and dial someone, or better yet go see them in person. The lure of the ‘send’ button is strong, to be sure.

So my wish for you and for me is to rethink the way that you interact with people.  I am not some luddite calling for us to move to the woods and live off the land. But rather I hope that instead of looking at that reception, or that dinner, or that phone call as something of a hassle, I would wish that we looked at it as a unique opportunity to do something that we rarely get to do nowadays: talk.

That night at dinner with my colleague, without even thinking about it, I shared with him some of my struggles in some of the projects I am working on.  I didn’t really expect anything honestly, I was just sharing with him about what was going on in my life.  In the middle of my tale his eyes lit up because he knew how to solve my problem. That night he put me in touch with a friend of his who held the answer.

The reason this is important is this… I was seriously considering cancelling dinner with my friend that night because I looked upon our meeting as an inconvenience to my busy world. The thought of sitting still for a few hours even now stresses me out a little bit. But the bottom line is that making that personal connection had a great affect on my life. Had we not broke bread together, he wouldn’t have known what was really going on in my life and I would have denied him the opportunity of doing something for someone else.  And not only did I get to spend some quality time with my friend, I made a new friend who is now an asset to me.

$42.18 doesn’t seem like that much now, considering all that I got in return.  Make more personal connections my friends. You’ll be better for it.

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