Recently, I have been immersed in preparing to facilitate several client team gatherings next week, in addition to my regular coaching sessions. When my creative juices kick in, it is fun to create an engaging agenda that appeals to various ways people learn. I burrow down into my work, dive into research, read books, plot strategy and design activities. This is solitary work that I love. Just me, my writing pad, computer, and some salted-caramel chocolate coffee (more about the latter when I do a future Musings on addictions I suffer from). What I have learned is that besides the java, the quiet time to focus, and a deep desire to create a learning space for my clients, what truly sustains me is my time with others I care about.
In an effort to replace Facebook with face time, I try to connect in ways that are more fulfilling. Small shifts have helped. Instead of reading about what others are doing, I make plans to go to a museum with friends. In lieu of emailing thanks, I send a hand-written note. If something tickles my funny bone, I pick up the phone to share the laughter. Monthly breakfast with a small group of colleagues is a priority on my calendar. I make time to visit a friend’s mother in the middle of a workday. A client generously shares his insights and advice over lunch. I drive three hours to attend a friend’s art show opening. When one of my sons calls, I drop everything to talk.
Even though my Myers-Briggs assessment labels me an introvert, I realize that I’m really an “ambivert” (shout-out to Dan Pink for that revelation). The balance of being with others, and being alone, is essential. I derive energy from both. Sometimes, I am jolted into that realization. Like yesterday, when I got a phone call from a friend who needed me to help her think through a sticky situation. She knew that I was up to my ears in work, and she called anyway. I loved that. In that moment, I was reminded how powerful and important inter-personal connections are to me. To have friends who share my conviction that relationships are what truly matter is one of the greatest gifts in my life.
This month, I encourage you to reflect on the people you care about in your life. How do you nurture your relationships? Where have you let email, social media, or meetings become a barrier to meaningful interactions? What are some smalls ways to connect more deeply with others? If I can support you in this work, please give me a call.
Sharon Keys Seal