Informed by connection

It’s so easy for those born into affluence to tell the man struggling with poverty to resist a “handout”, to just bear down, work harder and to himself up by his bootstraps. No matter that the advice giver has never been exposed to the reality of that person’s circumstances at anything close to an intimate level.

It’s so easy for the politician to put forth a “kick in the ass whomever I don’t like or fear” doctrine–and sign-up for a “more boots on the ground” plan–when they’ve never worn those boots or never had had to look family members of those killed or maimed by those strategies in the eye.

It’s so easy for the sober person to tell the addict to just say “no” and to simply employ greater willpower to get themselves on a path to recovery. It all sounds so obvious to anyone who has not experienced the powerlessness, disconnection and shame that fuels addiction.

It’s so easy for the CEO to assuage shareholders by promulgating off-shoring plans, store closings or mass layoffs, when the people losing their jobs are merely numbers in a press release or anonymous names on some list of those affected by their actions.

And at a far more mundane level, it’s so easy for the marketer to create seemingly brilliant new marketing strategies without taking the time to understand consumers’ wants, needs and motivations at a deeper and more personalized level.

If you are anything like me you may find it easy to stay stuck in a need to be right, without trying to connect with the person on the other side of our self-righteous. And that’s a huge miss.

Data and logic are great. Detachment and hypotheses generated at a safe distant can be useful to achieving objectivity. But more times than not the best decisions, the innovative plans, the work that ultimately matters must be informed by connection. Connection with our partner, our families, our teams, our customers, by anyone affected by our opinions and our actions.

And not surface level connections. Risky connections. Emotional connections. Vulnerable connections. Connections that risk our being wrong, looking stupid, failing miserably.

Informed by connection means being willing to go beyond what we’ve always done, what we’ve always believed and what is expedient or popular. Informed by connection may shake us to our core or merely compel us to say ” you know, you were right, I was mistaken.”

Informed by connection demands humility.

And we could all use a bit more of that right now. At least I know I could.




One thought on “Informed by connection

  1. Steve,

    Love your posts. I especially like this one because your point about being right without trying to connect is something I’ve been struggling with. It wasn’t as clear to me as it has been over the last couple weeks as I go through Seth’s #altMBA3. Thanks for reinforcing the idea for me.

    Have you considered sharing a personal, real-life example of how you came around to an informed connection and the impact it had?



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