There was a day recently, when I needed to leave my desk and clear my head. I was intending to do one of those “it is solved by walking” walks, where more clarity and creativity ensue. But, when I ran into a neighbour and stopped to chat, I realized what I’d actually needed was connection.
I continued my walk with a different purpose in mind. The lightness and happiness I felt after that brief conversation reminded me how important connecting with others is and what a profound difference it can make in our outlook and attitude. I’ve seen someone’s face transform when I smile at them on the bus or on the street. I’ve also seen shocked delight, as if they haven’t been seen and acknowledged in quite some time.
In the realm of my work, I’ve always understood the value of connection. I have often commented that you don’t have to be the cheapest or even the smartest or the most skilled. If you take the time to make a connection with a client, that’s the thing that will stick. That’s the thing that we all want. Connection equals trust. In business and in life.
That day, I decided that my mission on the walk would be to connect with others. And when your aim is clear, what happens is fascinating.
First off, I noticed how much more caring my eye contact became. It wasn’t just a glance of acknowledgement as someone passed by—“yes, I notice you here on this sidewalk with me.” It was more of an “I see you, fellow human being, and let’s use our eyes to connect here in this moment.”
I also noticed how bereft I felt if someone didn’t make eye contact with me. It felt like a missed opportunity. And, as much as I love our current technology and how it enables us to be “connected” to one another, I did notice that the people who were on devices were completely inaccessible to me. Almost as if we existed in different realities (kind of true!).
But the most profound part of my short experiment happened when I encountered others who seemed to be on a similar mission. I had two instances of long, meaningful eye contact with no words, but with what felt like full appreciation. Love, even.
I arrived back home after that 20-minute walk feeling completely renewed and invigorated. My experience begs the question: What if we took the time to connect with everyone we encountered (strangers and intimates) in this way every day? How different would the fabric of our lives be?
Your assignment for today: Go out in the world, show up behind your eyes, and see what happens!