I had the pleasure of being connected to an amazing group of people for eight days in Kelowna, BC, and it during this time I got to peek under the covers of the real meaning of connection. In this world where catch phrases are common place, such as integrity, connection, authenticity, leadership, and the like, I find that the meaning of these words can be lost on us. Simon Sinek in his book, “Start with Why” reminded us if we were not truly connected to the meaning of our message, or our words, despite being able to artfully craft a positive message, the real impact will be lost on the world. I really got the meaning of his message as in certain circumstances if I am invited to share something deep and meaningful, the environment I am in will determine if I will or not.
What I am referring to is the energy or underlying emotion that is connected to the request is warm and welcoming then I would feel compelled to share openly and honestly, but with the same request in an energy that was not so welcoming, even the same words were used in the invitation to share, I would find it more challenging to open up. I feel like the underlying emotion behind connection is love, as one of my favorite religious passages states, “ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” In this passage I see where connection can be won or lost dependent on the limits of our ability to love fully and completely.
The environment we were in Kelowna was meant to challenge our ideas and paradigms of life and limitations found therein, and what I discovered for myself, others experience may be different, was that the limitations that were found only existed when I was closed off and or felt separated. When I was grounded, connected to the others, I was more confident, bolder, held a bigger heart in my chest, and more aware and inspired in the strength I saw in the others around me. I was more connected to their ideas, opinions, breakthroughs, and strengths, and they I believe to mine. There were tears of joy, tears of letting stuff go, tears of frustration when the breakthroughs were just on the cusp of occurring, and the space to grow was made available to all due to our connection with each other.
One of the leadership challenges I went through under normal circumstances would of stopped me in my tracks as I would of rationalized my way out of it, but with a team all around me the uncertainty was 80% less, as I drew strength on the friends around me. On the same token, I also witnessed the power of presence where I lent my strength to fellow teammates simply by being there, nothing more. Such a rewarding and humbling experience. I also was painfully aware of the loss of connection when we all left for our homes at the end of the event and realized how much we had come to rely on each other for support, how the others strengths lifted us up and allowed us to step into our own strength. I have come to realize how important being a part of a bigger picture is, and not just in a leadership position but as a part of a community. So where does SAM come into this, what does SAM have to do with connection? As you know, SAM stands for (S)tabilize your life, heart and mind by choosing a powerful grounding emotion, value or character strength. I choose love, and as I have discovered for myself, love is the foundational emotion to all that good and wonderful, it connects all. The (A) is SAM for (A)ction or the steps taken in respects connection, and again, with love at the helm, the decision are easily made on how we wish to connect. When it came to connection, love was the emotion for me that allowed me to put my fears aside and become more, love also encouraged me to put my opinions aside long enough to listen to the ideas of others so I could learn from their experiences.
The (M) in SAM in to (M)ove is the direction we wish to head in once the first two steps have been addressed. What is unique or special about this process is where we wish to go almost always changes once we focus on being grounded emotionally, leading us to a place where love and connection are the bonds that create a remarkable life. My journey has been one of getting back to what matters most, trying to get rid of the layers of dust I seemed to accumulated on the lenses of my life so I can see clearly every day that love is all I will ever need.
C. David Gilks Your Fellow Traveler
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