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Connected but not connecting

There’s a force ripping friends apart and keeping you from making new ones. It feels literal, keeping your mouth shut through embarrassment and confusion when you so desperately want to speak, to connect with other people.

When you were in school, many students let this force drive their every action. It ruled their lives, controlling what they wore, what they ate, who they hung out with, the parties they went to, and even whether or not they took their degree seriously or just skated through. “C’s get degrees” after all, why try any harder?

Those kids then graduated or otherwise got “real jobs,” filling the padded rolling chairs that many will have for years after the cushions have worn through. They’ll be sitting in those same chairs longer than they ever sat in school and with the same tired cushions longer than they ever had those same, worn friends.

This force is more present in their lives at work than ever before. Sometimes it goes unnoticed and unnamed, passing as unspoken law and masquerading as professionalism. You feel it when you ignore the strangers down the hall who you’ve seen every day for years. It’s what keeps you silent when a brave coworker pitches their dreams, making you worry for your own job instead. It’s the force making you believe that good employees work through their lunch and don’t get to know others personally.

When your own emotions are on the line and others are rewarded for drowning their originality, this force can feel oddly comfortable. But beware, like sitting sedentary at your desk and car and then your couch for a lifetime, it’s a comfort that can kill.

It can kill your creativity, your pride in your work, your ability to make real friends, your passion for what you do and why you got into it in the first place, and perhaps worst of all it can kill your legacy. Live by its empty comforts and time will slip you by, leaving you with a life lived hiding in the shadows. A legacy of mediocrity.

This is what fear looks like. This is the force that can unconsciously rule our lives and if it’s left unchecked it will continue ruling your life even after you know exactly what it is.

There is something you can do about it though. Actually, there’s a lot of things that you can do about it and that’s what makes you brilliant. If you’re struggling to see what that is there’s a trick that can help you unlock that brilliance and beat back fear: invite someone to lunch.

Going to lunch with the people you work with can open up real connections. Not the kind of connections that live only on LinkedIn, endorsing others for skills because you work together despite never having supported them in real life in the first place. Far too many of us are connected digitally but we’re not connecting.

Invite two people to lunch if it’s easier, invite a whole team to go out with your team if that’s less weird. Tell them the truth: tell them you want to get to know them, that you want learn about what they do and make some more friends in the office. Tell them you know you sound weird asking and you might just share your first laugh together.

Taking a break and spending it intentionally with others can change everything about your work. But be intentional about it, make it meaningful. Get to know someone and just learn about their life and their work. Find out about how wonderful they really are. Learn about all the ways that you’re actually connected and that neither of you knew of before. Go somewhere awesome together, enjoy a fantastic lunch.

Make it intentional. Make it meaningful. Try to make a real connection and you really can change everything. It’s why why the team at an app that encourages people to eat lunch together thinks that we can change the world.

Will you join us and stand up against fear?

 

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