5 Ways to Cultivate Connection
Are you looking for ways to cultivate connection?
As social creatures, we tend to hang out in families and circles of friends. We also look to our work and work colleagues for purpose in our lives, and social connection.
And right now, many are feeling disconnected.
In my blog post Are You Craving Connection? I shared some of the specific reasons that leaders can start to feel isolated.
If you are looking for ideas to grow your feeling of connection, here are five that can get you started.
1. Make Time to Connect with Yourself
As a leader, you must lead yourself first.
The challenges of leadership are significant, however, they don't come without great reward.
To be successful, you must manage your own self-care, your schedule, and maintain your own sense of self.
Connecting with your sense of self will allow you to stay focused on the vision you’ve set for yourself as a leader.
You’ll be able to tap into your powers of intuition when making important decisions. And you'll have a clear view of the improvements you need to be making in your daily tasks and activities.
Knowing the direction you are heading in, with clarity on your values, will help you keep a strong sense of self.
2. Break the Circuit on your Routine
This applies both at home and at work.
Do something surprising, something that makes you smile!
I was at a training class 20 years ago and we were asked to do things differently. At first I was uncomfortable doing yoga on the grass at 6am with the other participants. But by the third day, there was a new level of connection and camaraderie that built.
I am not suggesting you throw your current routine away! In fact, routines are great and actually support your productivity and mental wellbeing.
But what if you could replace one part of your routine for something more surprising? And that would build connection?
For example, why not replace your family's Taco Tuesdays with a new theme each week? You could get the whole family involved in planning out the cuisines you’ll visit each week.
If weekly seems too much, try monthly.
With your work team, an idea might be to switch up your weekly staff meeting. Why not have a rotating chair for the meeting, or have a small sub-team build a new agenda for the meeting. Perhaps take it in turns to open the staff meeting with a joke? Anything that mixes up what everyone is expecting.
You will be amazed at the connection simple changes can open for you and the others you lead. Switch things up again in 6 months.
3. Connect with your Tribe
Find a way to connect with your friends. And do it often!
The setting is not as important as the fact that you need to relax, have fun, and not be under time pressure.
The obvious choice is a dinner out, but this might not suit your needs. You and your friends might need to be socially distancing right now, or perhaps your close friends live in another city.
Don’t let these stop you - there are plenty of party games and fun that can be had via Zoom or similar apps.
A night out - or a virtual night in - with your tribe, or even a small group of close firends, will do you a world of good. The more regularly you meet, the more connected you will start to feel.
4. Network - and in new ways!
As a leader, you already know that networking is an important skill for you to practice.
Networking inside your company helps you build your personal brand and reputation. And this helps people understand the value that you deliver. This can lead to more opportunity for informal mentorship and sponsorship.
Networking outside of your company is also important. And this is often overlooked. Networking will help you stay in touch with the broader challenges of your industry. External perspectives will keep you from staying inside the comfort zone of your own company culture. This also keeps you in a learning mode and a growth mindset for your long-term leadership career.
Ideas for networking include joining industry groups, social groups, or attending conferences. Once you are at an event, make sure to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Actively seeking connections with other people is the reason you are there afterall! It is okay to feel a little uncomfortable, just move through it, you'll be glad once you start making great new connections.
Social media groups and other circles/networks such as MeetUp groups, or LeanIn groups affiliated with your industry are also available. You may wish to look at joining charities or non-profits with a mission that aligns with your own values.
5. Schedule it in!
Set yourself up for success and schedule time on your calendar for taking actions that will re-build your sense of connection.
At first, this might be 30 minutes a week for 2-3 weeks as you develop a plan and strategy around what changes you’d like to make. From there, schedule in the activities you've chosen that fit for you.
This might include a weekly get together with a new networking group, a monthly night out with the gals, and new standing Saturday lunch with your teenage Son.
Try to make progress in a couple of the areas mentioned above, but you don’t need to do it all at once.
Plan to review how it is all going and adjust as needed, say every 3-6 months.
We only get one chance at this life.
You deserve to feel purposeful, happy, and connected to people that you love, enjoy the company of, and that you can learn from.
Don’t let work and the busyness of life overwhelm your chance to develop, grow, and serve as the leader you set out to be.
Supporting you on your leadership journey,