Are you craving connection?
If you are, you are not alone.
Connection happens when we are seen for who we are.
When we are heard, when we are valued, when we are cared for.
The feeling connection brings is warmth. It is comforting and uplifting.
It happens when someone remembers a small detail about something I once said I liked. Or when someone at work that I admire or respect remembers something I once said. Or when my husband picks out the perfect book for me.
The opposite is feeling lonely, isolated, or disconnected.
And yes, you can feel this way even if you are surrounded by people that you love and who love you.
It is possible to be happy and at times have feelings of disconnection.
And sometimes, you may feel guilty for feeling disconnected, when life really is great.
These emotions - disconnection, discontent, guilt - are damaging to both our emotional and physical wellbeing. Especially if they build up over time without relief, and you are unable to move through them.
You may be feeling a level of disconnection or a sense of loss that is related to the ongoing pandemic. Indeed, Amy Cuddy has termed this feeling of 'blah' as pandemic flux syndrome.
Or this feeling may predate March 2020 for you. If so, I am sure that the events of the past (almost) two years have only exacerbated your disconnection.
In some ways, we have the opportunity to be more connected than ever with the technology available to us. Yet, this sense of ennui persists for many.
Why are you feeling this way?
In most of our lives, there will be times where we crave connection and feel lonely. This is a normal human experience.
It is also quite normal to sometimes feel this way even when you are surrounded by love and friendship.
There are 5 possible pathways that can cause Leaders to feel a loss of connection.
Pathway 1: Leadership can be really lonely.
With being the boss comes some responsibilities that separate you from your team. In the end, you are the one that needs to hold people to account with work tasks. You also need to be available as confidential support for everyone on your team. Further, teams need to be given space to bond with one another without you (the boss) being present.
I recall feeling somewhat lonely when I first became a Supervisor. This separation wasn’t easy for me. At the time, I learned the best anti-dote to this feeling of isolation was to connect more with my peer group. That is, other first-line mangers/supervisors in my organization.
How are you creating moments for connection with your peers? What ideas have you discovered that work well in a hybrid workplace setting?
Pathway 2: No time for fun - and everything feels like work.
You're busy. You are running your household. You are running a busy team in a challenging business environment. You are attempting to maintain a semblance of balance between work and home. And you need to make sure you are looking after yourself too!
With this all going on, it is so easy to throw fun right out the window!
There have been times during my career when I was working way too hard, and exhausted. Too exhausted for fun. The catch-22 here is that fun was the exact thing I needed for my mental exhaustion and to re-balance myself.
Are you missing out on fun both at home and at work because you are too busy?
Something needs to give so that you can edge fun back into the equation.
How long since you had a good belly laugh? The kind that brings spontaneous tears to your eyes and leaves you breathless?
What can you stop doing and replace with a fun activity? Or what activities can you bring fun into?
Laughter really is the best medicine.
Pathway 3: Less 'water cooler' action.
When it comes to remote and hybrid working arrangements, this topic could be an article all of its own!
There are pros and cons when comparing face-to-face and remote/hybrid working scenarios. The aspects of work affected include: productivity, mentorship, and the potential for innovation.
This is because some things work better when we are face to face, collaborating in a room together. Success in these areas, when in a remote work setting takes creativity, and often, more planning time.
There is also an important human connection aspect missing in remote working scenarios.
That is the inadvertent, incidental conversations that take place at the 'water cooler'. Or as you are dashing between meetings, or to the coffee shop.
These are the snippets of conversation about your personal circumstances. The activities from last weekend, your kids' school play, the water leak in the attic last night.
While it is possible to schedule in some 'zoom' time for these kinds of chats, it's not quite the same.
Look for ways to periodically meet face to face where possible. This applies to interactions with your team members, your peers, and your supervisor.
Pathway 4: You are not spending enough time being creative.
As well as being social creatures, we are at our core, meant to be creative. Without fulfilling this part of our natures, we become disconnected from ourselves.
I know you are busy, but it is important to recognize the need for a creative outlet in your day. You will find it so helpful.
You don't need to be a Picasso, or a Mozart, try something more accessible if you are just getting started. Baking, writing poetry, or trying a mindful coloring book are all ideas to consider.
And by all means, pick up that paintbrush or that sheet music if that feels right!
Pathway 5: Not enough time for yourself.
It is a paradox that being with others 24/7 can leave you feeling alone and disengaged.
When I look back to the start of the pandemic, what seemed fun, all being at home together, was soon too much.
I remember craving time to myself!
One evening we'd forgotten milk in our online grocery delivery, and as an essential for my morning latte, I went to pick some up. A short drive in my car, with the music cranked up, had never seemed like so much fun!
Finding time to tap into your own sense of self, and your own thoughts and intuition is critical.
There are many ways to introduce a self-care practice that allows you time alone also. Some examples are, meditation, journaling, or a regular soak in a salt bath.
Understanding the source of your disconnection is a first step toward change.
Are there other pathways that you can name that have led you to feeling a craving for connection?
What other solutions have you found that work well?
For more ideas, check out my blog post 5 Ways to Cultivate Connection.
Supporting you on your leadership journey,