Monday 24 October, 2011
There are a few phrases I remember very well from my training because I heard them so often. One of them was a challenge that could be heard in the silences which sometimes followed people’s contributions to the group: ‘Make a connection, people. Make a connection.’ Each time he said it, Karaj was asking us to connect with each other. Nothing else. Just connect. He always urged us to look for the humanity in people and this was allied to that.
Finding something within ourselves, which connects with what another person has said, goes way beyond demonstrating that we have been listening. It is about making the most of an opportunity to share time and space with another human being in a way which makes a strong, supportive and powerful contribution to their life. It can be as easy as one word or one gesture. Such opportunities are precious because they make tangible the notion that everything is connected to everything else.
Less intense examples occur when I find myself holding the door open for people or stopping on a busy pavement to let others pass. When they walk by me, certain people smile or offer some acknowledgement, whereas others don’t even look up. Sometimes people are clearly busy or preoccupied, but on other occasions I am left with the feeling that an opportunity to connect has been missed.
I had that feeling recently after being directed to the website of another coach. I discovered that he had taken extracts from my website and used them, word for word, on his site under the section on personal development. I take my work seriously and I was annoyed at what appeared to be unethical behaviour. Here was someone offering to help people with their personal development when the words he was using were not even personal to him. I wrote to him expressing my disapproval. He replied, explaining his reasons and apologised. I thanked him for responding and wished him well.
Had he contacted me first and asked to use what I had written, I would have gladly given my permission. I would also have made clear how important I consider it to draw on one’s own personal development in order to support others with theirs. Had he got in touch we could have talked, exchanged experiences, learnt from each other. We could have connected. Instead, the opportunity passed and what remained was no basis for the kind of relationship which could otherwise have been built.
I expect a higher standard from my fellow professionals. The same was expected of me during my training. Karaj often pushed us to our limits, with the intention of showing us how good we are. And when you have produced quality once, it becomes very difficult to allow standards to fall. It was to my training journals that I turned during the writing of this post. I looked through forthcoming entries for the word ‘connection’ and found the following:
- As more and more connections are made within the group, the group becomes stronger and stronger.
- He didn’t want solutions, he just wanted to talk, to connect. The connection is often all a person needs to allow themselves to sort out their own issues.
- There was minimal communication but the connection was ever-present.
- We all struggled and Karaj took us to task in a very serious fashion, demanding that we look deep in ourselves to make a connection with Ishwar.
- A simple comment from Ishwar about Imogen’s artwork was enough for me to make a connection and, therefore, a contribution.
Those reflections give an indication of the essence we can experience by connecting with someone. It takes very little effort to look inside us and find a way to do so. We may still choose not to, and sometimes that is a wise choice. But if we are presented with an opportunity to connect, it is worth considering the powerful changes we can set in motion and the positive difference we can make when we contribute to people’s lives. It can be a real privilege to make a connection.