Three levels of connection

Connection occurs between two or more points. Here to there, A to B, Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant Mr Watson. We know that we are here and we are looking to connect to something that is over there. But what, or who, is it? What are we reaching out for? 

There are three points we’re trying to connect to when we look at connection, either as individuals or in organisations:

  1. Ourselves
  2. Other people
  3. The system we are in

In my consultancy and coaching process, I rarely begin with ‘other people’ when discussing connection. It’s not effective if the other two connections aren’t visible or well-established.

Imagine that you close your eyes for a moment, and when you open them again you are looking at a landscape filled with water. There are eight or nine people standing near you, and on the horizon an angry storm is rapidly approaching. What do you do?

“Start looking around for the captain, get the others to take up positions at the ropes and things, and hoist the main braces or whatever they do on a ship!”

Good ideas. Except …

If you look down at your clothes you’d notice you are the captain.

And if you took a moment to look around at your surroundings you’d see you were on a cruise ship.

Which means the most effective actions you could take now in connecting with the eight or nine people surrounding you are very different from your original actions.

We have to connect with who we are, what we care about and the skills and leadership we have before we can start to connect with others in a meaningful, effective, even loving way. And that ‘system’ we are in – the context and dynamics that surround us at any given point – is important in understanding the influences and pressures that will be affecting every person in that system who we will need to connect with.

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