coffee with friends

The Power of Connection, Listening and Branching Out

Posted on Posted in Learning, Successful Systems

At many times along our journey we all feel lost and aren’t exactly sure what barriers hold us back.  What I have found most powerful in my life to better understand myself and what is holding me back as well as what could be, is building relationships.  When you think about relationships all kinds come to mind, those with our parents, partners, coworkers and friends.  When breaking through your own barriers there are two important things to remember about relationships: listen more than you talk and every day presents an opportunity to develop a new relationship.

One of the benefits of moving several times in my life has been that I have had to make new friends.  I count this as one of the biggest blessings of my life.  Through forming deep relationships with people who really “get me” and that I genuinely understand, I have learned how to be a better person and have exposed myself to how effective different viewpoints can be.   In cultivating friendships that were more temporary or of a peripheral nature, I learned how much we can all evolve and how fun some relationships can be at certain times in your life.  Not every relationship has to be lifelong, nor does it need to offer the same benefits as others.  What it does need to serve is the growth of both individuals.  Net, the key is to dive deeper into your relationships, by increasing your level of engagement and genuinely listening to what the other person is saying.

That being said, when you look to broaden your horizons and meet someone who can open a new door or present a new outlook, you need to be purposeful about it.   What is it that you want to learn more about, what do you want to share, what are they passionate about, how could you help each other etc.?  One of the items I have always been passionate about is career fulfillment, who has it, how did they achieve it and what do they do differently.  Learning more about this from others helps me in my work as a human resource manager as well as building my tool chest toward being a successful life coach one day.  Moreover, as I work to get to know people better, I try to reveal more of my real self.  This introduces vulnerability into the equation, allowing us to connect on a deeper level.  Additionally, it enables me to see if there is a natural connection that both parties want to be a part of.

As you read on, you’re probably thinking that this isn’t the first time you have been told to build relationships.  Perhaps you have read “Never Eat Alone,” by Keith Ferrazzi, an excellent book about the power of networking and building strong support systems.  If you have not read it, add it to your list.  What this book specifically encourages you to do to live your fullest life, is to meet new friends and colleagues as often as you can.

I admit it, I love hanging out with people I know really well and who have known me a long time.  It’s comfortable, reassuring and necessary to re-fuel my soul.  Nevertheless, it doesn’t expose you to new ideas, perspectives on life, your own barriers to obtaining fulfillment …you get the idea:)  The challenge in the adult world of initiating friendships is where to meet new people, what to do together and what to talk about.  To these questions, I say follow your interests and be curious.   Furthermore, follow the “health, wealth and children” communication strategy that Ferrazzi touts in his book.  This means, share your unique perspective on how to help the other person build a healthier life, a richer life or a better life for their children.  Finding common ground and helping each other with the issues that impact everyone can be an amazing relationship starter.

As an example, a few weeks ago I was at a work conference where everyone had to present pictures to the group to share more about themselves.  A coworker I barely knew had a few pictures of my favorite books in his presentation.  Later during our work dinner I initiated conversation about his pictured books and we continued to talk for a couple hours about our love of personal finance, odd thing to bond on yes, friendship in the making, definitely.  After the conference we shared our favorite blogs, books and thoughts on personal finance.  To follow up on the connection, we’ll have lunch and continue to build on the discussion of wealth creation through our own experiences.  By taking a leap to share interests outside of work and delve deeper, a relationship is on its way to improving both our lives.

Beyond coworkers, you can meet people in coffee shops, conferences, meetup.com, on your favorite blogs, church events, vacation, etc.  The world is full of people who are interested in connecting and genuinely sharing in the experience of life.  Ultimately, there is work to be done. You must actively go out there to build relationships.  You also need to have an idea about what it is that you have to share, what you are going to learn may not become evident until the relationship develops.  Now go out there and find a new connection to stretch yourself or deepen an existing relationship to extract more learning and meaning from it.

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