We are social beings. We were made to connect.
The first connection is to ourselves. How well do you know you? The real you. The you that is inside you. The you that you were made for.
An aspirational reason for being. A deep conviction about what is important to you.
Purpose (Ben Renshaw)
The first step to knowing yourself is to discover your purpose. When you discover your reason for existence, it becomes the true north that shapes your entire being. It frames your thinking and guides your actions. It fuels your passion, builds your resilience and grit. It is the “turbo boost” that propels you forward.
After discovering your purpose, you need to identify your values. Values are like guardrails that keep our hearts and minds on the straight and narrow path. They “dictate” how we behave and inform our conscience what is acceptable (or otherwise). I’ve not seen “wrong or bad” values but I have seen the lack of it.
Purpose and values are “eternal” in that they don’t change with the seasons. Together, they provide an anchor for us when the storms of adversity hit. With purpose and values, we can then develop our vision.
Our vision for the season may vary, but it is always aligned to our purpose and values. Ben Renshaw describes vision as “a big picture of a compelling future state. Vision lifts you up from here and now and inspires you to move in the direction you want to go”. When Alice was asked, “where do you want to go?” She responded, “I don’t know”. The Cheshire Cat said, “then it doesn’t matter which road you take” (Alice in Wonderland paraphrased). How sad, but true.
Purpose, values and vision are outcomes of an inward connection. After connecting inwardly, there is a need for an outward connection.
The outward connection is our connection to the world around us. It begins with the basic unit of a nation - our families.
I am thankful for my family connection. We laugh, eat, share, cry, disagree (thankfully no fights!) together. Through the good and not so good times, we are still family. It requires intentionality. Simple things like making time for meals, catching-up with one another, sending an encouraging text message etc. It doesn’t happen automatically, it requires intentionality.
The next level of outward connection is to our community. Whether it’s your neighbour next door or someone in your condominium vicinity, a badminton group or a church member, a support network or an online interest group; these are all communities that we “do life” with at some point in our lives. They add (wonderful) colour to our lives and serve as our extended family.
The third outward connection is to the world at large. In our current season of crisis, the entire world has been affected. Borders are closed. There are more planes on the ground than in the air. More people at home than ever. Whether you are in Asia, Australia, America or Europe, we are all experiencing the same effect of this virus. Reminds us we’re in this together. No one individual, let alone a nation, is exempted. Rich or poor, educated or streetwise, young and old; we are in this together.
The outward connection presents opportunities for us to express ourselves while engaging with others. It allows us to express our most human qualities such as empathy, collaboration and kindness. Skills that surface through meaningful interpersonal interactions.
Our final connection, and perhaps the most significant one (in my opinion), is the upward connection.
Upward connection begins with faith. I am a person of faith. We may come from different faiths, but you need to have faith in someone or something - even if you’re an atheist - you need faith to not believe.
My faith reminds me how fragile our lives are. How things on the earth appear to be eternal when it is in fact temporal. We have seen in recent days, how nations, stock markets, powers at be, conglomerates, etc. are subject to the same pandemic. It reminds me of the need to keep the main thing, the main thing. To not be caught up with unnecessary things. To let go of less important things. It also reminds me that we (mankind) don’t have it all together. We don’t have all the answers. We need someone greater. We need to look upwards.
My faith gives me hope for the future. Hope to see a better tomorrow. Hope to see all of us coming out of this crisis stronger. Hope to see people returning to work. Hope to see malls and parks filled with laughter and voices of people. Hope gives me something to look forward to. Hope gives me a reason to wake up tomorrow and be thankful for the air I breathe.
My faith teaches me to love. To know that I am first loved and that I am also to love others. It teaches me to consider the needs of others before self. To be concerned about those around me who are in need. It opens my eyes and helps be aware of my surroundings. It moves my heart to be thankful for how much I have with every meal on the table. Love teaches me to be grateful and generous. To give to those in need not out of compulsion or guilt, but out of genuine and sincere love.
“No man is an island”
May we always be reminded of the need to connect. We all can have an inward, outward and upward connection. Don’t procrastinate. Make that connection today.