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Leading Yourself: Intentionally Connecting with Others

In his book, “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” author John C. Maxwell talks about five connection principles and five connection practices. One of the connection principles that really resonates with me is “Connecting Always Requires Energy”.

I personally define energy as that extra effort needed to make something important work, even when we don’t feel up to exerting ourselves. It is the electricity required to turn on a lamp, the stamina needed to complete an exercise workout, or the sincerity and intentionality that nudges us to start or cultivate a relationship.

So, what can that energy look like in our day-to-day relationships and encounters – times when we are really intentional about connecting with others? Here are just a few of my experiences that required a little energy, but I reaped the rewards of either starting or deepening relationships in the process:

· One year my family purchased assorted bread and pastries from Panera Bread® over the Christmas holidays and took them around to neighbors. In our ever-busy lives, this small act allowed us to slow down and meet new people in our neighborhood.

· I have been known to call people, hands-free, when I am driving for 30 minutes or more. Instead of listening to music mindlessly, I re-purpose the time to connect with someone who has been on my mind just to say hello or let that person know I care. It’s also a wonderful time to return overdue calls from friends.

· At a previous Toastmasters of West Georgia club meeting, I acknowledged two members specifically during my prepared speech. After establishing direct eye contact, I said to one: “It is great to see you again. Thank you for being a member of this club.” To the other I said, “I really do envy your trip to Africa and hope you had an amazing time. Thanks for joining us in person today – good seeing you.”

I have countless other examples, but hopefully you get my point and are already considering accepting the challenge, especially during this holiday season.

For starters, think about what connecting with energy could look like for you today or this week. Is it calling that friend or relative you have not spoken with for weeks or months? Is it re-engaging a co-worker to say that while your viewpoints and approaches differ, you respect her work and contributions to the team? Or is it talking with someone at your place of worship, water aerobics class, or social club who might want to know more about you? The possible scenarios abound.

As I close, I’m reminded of the French Proverb that says, “Rome was not built in a day”. I find it amazing how much this proverb applies to our relationships too: if we take the time and energy to build those metaphoric “cities”, we can enjoy a magnificent array of experiences with people we respect, care for, and love.

Written by Leslie K. Nelson, Pivotal Connections, LLC

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