I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about why I write. And why I write what I write. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m seeking connection. But that doesn’t quite mean what you might think.
It isn’t about being lonely and wanting to meet like-minded folks to ease the loneliness. And it isn’t about connection for connection’s sake. I’m surrounded by people every day, and as an introvert, sometimes that gets a bit much.
Besides, I’m reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly at the moment as part of my crazy 91 day challenge, and Brown would have a few things to offer me if I was seeking connection as a shield for my vulnerability (I think she refers to it as floodlighting – it isn’t a particularly positive thing and appears in the book right next to a related vulnerability avoidance tactic called the smash and grab. I suspect you get the picture).
So what do I mean by ‘seeking connection’?
Seeking integration rather than division'Integrate what you believe in every single area of your life. Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else, too.' ~ Meryl StreepClick To Tweet
For me, integration started with alignment of my different worlds: my work world, my home world, my social world, my intellectual world. I learned that the more integrated these roles were in my mind, the more balanced I felt, and the more energy I had. Managing multiple roles – or facades – is exhausting.
So what does this have to do with seeking connection?
Going beyond myself, I’m seeking connections that trigger new integrations – the way this goes with that. The world is a big place, and often we define ourselves by who we aren’t instead of who we are. Which means there are many more people who aren’t like me than there are who are like me. And that’s fine, there’s seven billion people in the world – and I have no interest in being the same as everyone else. What I am interested in are the common threads that hold us together.
And they aren’t always the obvious things, like race, or gender, or nationality. I can relate to all mothers, at least to an extent. And working outside the home mothers a lot. And I can relate to most eldest siblings. And I can relate to anyone striving to live their fullest life.
I write because getting the ideas from inside my head out on ‘paper’ enables me to spot possible integrations that weren’t obvious to me before. And because sometimes you can spot the integration that I cannot see at all. That possibility energises me and gives me hope for humanity in general.
Seeking complementarity rather than compartmentalisation'The whole idea of a stereotype is to simplify. Instead of going through the problem of all this great diversity - that it's this or maybe that - you have just one large statement; it is this.' ~ Chinua AchebeClick To Tweet
It’s easy to put things into boxes. It’s also lazy. Our brains like to do things as efficiently as possible, and compartmentalising something as ‘just like something else’ means we can quickly make a few assumptions about what it is and how it will ‘behave’ without going too deep. Without being curious.
Boxes tend to be impermeable and irreversible. Once we’ve put something it its box, it’s a lot of effort to let it out again – because it challenges our assumptions and makes us question our judgement.
Writing helps me to see the way ideas overlap and support one another, rather than seeing everything as a discrete and separate whole.
Seeking collaboration rather than competition'Creating a better world requires teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration, as we need an entire army of companies to work together to build a better world within the next few decades. This means corporations must embrace the benefits of cooperating with one another.' ~ Simon MainwaringClick To Tweet
There is a deep vulnerability nestled in publishing your thoughts for everyone to see. Ranging from “what if someone ridicules me” to “What if someone proves me wrong” through to “what if I upset someone” to “what if someone steals my best ideas.
The only way to answer these worries and stay sane (and keep writing) is: “I don’t know everything and I’m not always right”.
I am impatient for the world to be a better place. In fact, I’m impatient for humanity to be under, gentler and more human. And deep inside, I believe it can be. And I believe that self-leadership – leading from within – holds at least part of the answer.
And while I want to communicate these ideas and motivate others to get involved, I also know that I can’t do it by myself.
So what if someone plagiarises my article? If they share it, and it reaches more people, that’s what I was trying to achieve in the first place. Perhaps this doesn’t quite count as collaboration (they could have asked, and I’d have said yes!) it does involve not slipping into a competitive mindset.
Easy to say… harder to do.
So what do I mean by “Seeking Connection”?
Drawing people together through a common purpose
I am sending ‘bots’ out in the form of ideas… memes. My hope is that they will resonate with somebody. And that the resonance it creates builds a connection that ultimately could result in collaboration and integration and complementarity.
I’m certain I’m not the only person in the world that wants a better world… and I’m also sure that I’m not the only person in the world who sees leadership – personal leadership, not positional leadership – as being a key strategy for achieving it.
If this resonates for you, if you’re also on a mission to support humanity to achieve its full potential, reach out. I’d love to chat.
Hear me chatting with Hayley Collins…
Hayley’s podcast is great, I strongly recommend you subscribe so you don’t miss a single one!
In Episode 25 she chats with me about what it means to be a Chief Executive – some of the things that people tell you but you don’t really understand until you’re alone in the hot-seat.
This is a side of me you won’t have seen, as I don’t talk much about my ‘day-job’ here on the Blog.