What if we knew you?

The 5 simple words above give rise to an avalanche of thoughts that I believe can deliver us to a fairer more equal world... How so then?

I have been told on many occasions in the past that humans are social creatures. For me this is true. I like the company of others, I enjoy speaking with others and the richness that it brings in many ways. I believe that others also enjoy this activity, but that for many reasons there are barriers in society today whether real or not (bearing in mind if you believe they are real then they are real) that get in the way of simply talking to others around us. This is not to say that I am uncomfortable with my own company as I am not. I think we ought to love our own company, spend time with ourselves too. Maybe the subject of another post...

So... many of us could do with knowing more people. The most obvious examples of this are when we have something to say or tell people. We know this 'thing' we want to say, if only it reached the ears of those that needed to hear it would improve their lives in some way. This could be a charity, a local event, a social enterprise, a new service or business endeavour. It could be we are looking for help or support in some way, or to assist another. The list is endless and the number of people we know are rarely sufficient, unless we are very well connected.

There is a saying that I heard through my entire life 'you can never ever know enough people', i.e. it is always good to meet and connect with new people. I believe this and it is on this basic premise this blog post is about.

The more people that we are connected too and the more we focus on people and the relationships the more happens, it is basic maths. If one out of every 2 people you asked to do something took action, then asking twice as many would double the results. I hear people say all the time, 'how can I reach more people?', 'how can I get more people to know about this?', 'how can I share this knowledge, quickly, easily and at low cost?' ... It's not easy, it can be expensive and most of the really important local stuff that would be interesting for us just doesn't get out to enough ears because there is no simple mechanism to make it happen. Most of us end up resorting to some local newspaper advert or trying to persuade some editor that our piece is more important than all the other equally deserving articles... But... What if we started to practice 'what if we knew you?' thinking...

The difference between a stranger and a friend is just 'Hello my name is Chris, you are?'... Or it could be... 'Chris, this is Dave... Dave lives just around the corner, he likes cycling, have you met before?'. A smile and a few simple words is all it takes to break down the barrier between two people who never met before. Such a simple thing and yet we walk past so many people each day without a thought. But what if we changed our thinking? What if we saw each new connection as a pathway to a myriad of new exciting experiences just waiting for us to open up and discover... What if we decided to be proactive and connect people so that we removed the barrier for others?

Each new person we connect with provides us with an unending array of possibilities. I will continue this discussion in another post and just list them here for now... A new contact can result in any or many of the following; a customer, a supplier, a collaborator, a connection to a whole new array of networks, a friend, a supporter, a business partner, a mentor, a spouse, a referrer... I put it to you, every single connection is valuable, I'll say it again, every single connection is valuable, and it is our responsibility to discover and unleash this potential!

So how do we unleash this potential in each connection? What would it look like? Is there a simple roadmap or set of behaviours we can practice or adopt? ... Yes, 'what if we knew you?' thinking! It is not complex or difficult it just requires us to change the way we see people, consider some of the following :-

Talk to each other again
It is such a simple thing, spend more time talking to each other again. We invest a lot of time watching what others 'programme' for us on TV whilst so much richness walks past us each day locked in other people's heads. We collectively have all the knowledge we need to change everything for the better we're just not sharing it. Everything starts with a conversation. By talking to people we start the journey of discovery. More conversations please!

Each of us is on a unique journey
Every one of us is unique, and I don't mean physically. Each of us has a unique journey in life, like no other. Our experiences, feelings, emotions and thoughts combine to create a truly unique entity. This is the same for us all, the more we know someone the more we can truly 'connect'.

Understanding each other by telling our story
For us to function as an effective, integrated, interconnected community we need to understand people's stories. This means having the courage to tell those stories as well as the desire to listen. We are all fascinating because everyone of us has a unique story. It is the beginning of the 'age of storytelling' and there are so many untold stories in the world... Most of us go to our grave only sharing our story with a handful of people, and probably only a few episodes at that. We are all amazing people, and each of us has a story that needs to be told, and heard... How many biographies are there in the world compared to people? The best stories are like as not never told, let's change that!

Respect for each other as humans, compassion, solidarity
By sharing our stories we become teachers, educators, students, and we all benefit from our combined experiences. We also begin to respect how people have arrived at where they are, what it is like to be them, and their view of the world from their perspective. We develop compassion for those who have endured trials and pain, and solidarity with those who share in our challenges of life. This further deepens and strengthens our sense of community.

Non judgemental
Through understanding we begin to comprehend different perspectives and views of situations and circumstances. It is often very easy to think that the way we see the world is how it is and that those who see things differently are wrong. The would be role models in our society demonstrate how not to do this daily. Rarely are we able to see all the angles on a given subject, listening to others and understanding that a different view is possible is one of the first steps in building rock solid relationships and opens up the opportunity for dialogue, growth and healthy debate.

Learning about each other's strengths
None of us can do everything, nor would we really want to. Conversations give us the chance to discover other people's strengths and abilities. Often I am astounded by the diversity of knowledge, experience and gifts that people have. Often these are not measurable in terms of our accepted methods practised in education today and yet are essential to a healthy community. What a difference it would make to the way people value themselves and their happiness if we celebrated the strengths they have as opposed to comparing against some list that other people have deemed are 'most important'. These rarely have any bearing on real achievements in society, the world is full of people with few qualifications who have gone on to do some amazing things.

Discovering our passion and those of others
I cannot think of anything more important than helping others to discover their passion. We can only do this once we know people. A sad truth is that the vast majority of people are conditioned onto the conveyor belt of life and then spend their entire life working for others doing something they would rather not be doing. Many of us experiment with what we love through our hobbies and pastimes and yearn to spend more time there only to be controlled by the system, left only to wish and wonder what life might be like if 'money were no object'. We have all experienced the energy, enthusiasm, excitement and pure joy of seeing someone who is doing what they are passionate about. These people don't work... They are doing what they believe they are here to do. What if that were you? Why can't it be you? Do you know someone in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing? ... Not only is it sad for the person who is not fulfilling their own potential, but think about every other person that would be touched by that energy and enthusiasm... The missed opportunity costs... How absolutely amazing would it be if we were all following our passions?

Recognising our gifts, gratitude for them, sharing the practice
Often in today's busy, competitive world where we are measured by what we have, it is easy to be self deprecating and constantly beat ourselves up. Low Self esteem exists everywhere we look today. I hear constantly sentences like 'it's nothing, it was a long time ago', 'it's nothing special, loads of people can do that', 'It's easy I've been doing it for ages'... You get the picture. To be able to recognise our own strengths and abilities is the first step, once we have practised gratitude and recognised we are amazing, we have the freedom and the ability to help everyone else recognise theirs.

Supporting each other and helping us all move forward
'What if we knew you?' With a much deeper understanding of people, their background, history, journey so far, and passion going forward we able to help people at a completely different level. Once we know people we can signpost to other connections who are givers not takers and we can all pull each other upwards.

Collaboration together, doing what we love!
Once we liberate ourselves from the learned behaviour of competing against everyone else we can begin to enjoy the benefits of collaborating with everyone we now know, doing what we want to do! We are all part of an interdependent world. Not one of us can make it on our own. We all have a place (not just humans, everything on the planet), we can all make a valuable contribution and we can live happily in harmony, sustainably, with enough for us all. Why not? If we can think it, then we can make it happen!

Personal development through discipline and thought
When we begin to witness and believe our own value and follow our passion things change. Work and play intertwine and the boundaries become less distinct and blurred. Energy levels and enthusiasm increase but something else too. A desire to deliver the best we can possibly do. Not the best compared to someone else. The best that we can be with the resources and people that are around us. This requires discipline, thinking, personal development and commitment to our endeavour, a responsibility to ourselves and those we serve and to make the best contribution to our community that we are able.

... So in conclusion

What if we knew you thinking, the idea that by getting to know people who are local to us once again that we can bring about huge changes. It all starts with a conversation... It all starts with a simple 'hello...'

Link4Growth hosts events at different times of the day in the community to enable local people from any walk of life to come together, meet, talk, listen, learn, share and connect. These are free to attend (just buy your own refreshments). To find events locally or to enquire about hosting an event in your town, visit the LinkGrowth website.

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