Why Connections Will Change Your Life

I raced for the airport parking shuttle, threw my bag on the rack and collapsed in the seat. The hectic schlep is too familiar. The stranger next to me smiled, “How’d it go?” Ugh, what’s this guy want? What ever he’s selling, I don’t need.

I’ve been on that shuttle many times texting, returning calls, trying to remember if there was anything in the fridge to cook for dinner. The last thing on my mind is connecting. But for some reason, I played along.

I opened my heart and shared:

“Actually, quite well. I work in the call center space, and connection and empathy is fundamental. I saw more of that on this trip. I think they’re getting it. I also write a leadership blog and more people are engaging. The momentum is exciting”

His connection energized my thinking. I suddenly felt better about the progress. I took a shot. “Did you make the sale?” He laughed and beamed, “sure did.” And then he went on, “but I’m worried.

I’m in healthcare and the entire landscape is changing. I’ve been in this field forever, but may need to change. I’m not sure how I’ll replicate the income and my kids are still small. It’s all I’ve known.”

I felt sudden compassion for this stranger. This fleeting connection mattered. The 7 1/2 minute conversation energized us both. No cards exchanged. No romantic intentions. No next steps. No asks. Just two tired strangers offering the gift of connection. Next week, I’ll take that shuttle again with connections on my mind.

Creating Powerful Connections

Connections aren’t just for the people we love or those we lead. You can influence small corners of the world through fleeting connections.

  • Look up
  • Open your heart
  • Trust more
  • Ask
  • Share
  • Respond

Where have you found joy in random connections? To whom can you offer that gift?

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Posted in Communication, Energy & Engagement and tagged , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

25 Comments

  1. Karin,

    Such a great reminder. Making that human connection wherever you are can make a difference and be enlightening. It is an amazing thing to watch. For the past few weeks, I have made an extra effort to ask a simple question or make a simple statement, and it has been amazing to see how someone’s facial expression changes and how engaged someone becomes. Really noticing someone has changed me in how I interact and in what I have learned about people.

    Great post! Thanks. Jon

  2. For some reason I can’t think of any off hand, but I know I’ve had more than a few in airports, airplanes, and Starbucks. It seems to be a great way to get a check-in on if you can succinctly explain what you personal goal and vision is and how much you enjoy what you do. I also usually learn more on how to actively listen and ask the right kind of question to be sincerely inquisitive without getting too personal.

  3. Karin,

    Your post really moved me, not only did you make a connection with this stranger, you made connection with yourself.

    ……. you engaged, you exchanged and you were changed.

    Truly loved this post. It teaches us so much about ourselves.

    Lolly

    • Lolly, thanks so much. That’s what struck me while I was living it… I was connecting with this stranger and myself at the same time….. and that felt remarkably energizing.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Karin! I’ve been there. In fact, for a while, I think I was spending more time in JFK than in my living room. Without connection on the road, I was going to miss out on being human and instead be “that woman” who flew too much and only cared about herself.

    I appreciate that this brief encounter helped you to focus in on what’s going right instead of being called to the dark side of what’s going wrong that’s so easy to fall into. Great reminder to be open to connection – thanks!

  5. Karin- I am telling a real story. My late brother was visiting a patient. On his way out his eyes met with a man with tears in his eyes. My brother connected with him. It turned that the man’s brother was hospitalized and was in need of O- blood- same as my brother’s. Without hesitation my brother donated blood to him. Years later, the man gave my brother a lucrative contract.

    Minutes of connection can be worth years of hard work

  6. Steve, thanks fantastic. I need to do more of that.

    Your magic is not just in the connections, but in the sticking with folks and investing. I spoke about you in my keynote last week. How early in the blog there was Steve (occassionally my Dad too, but always Steve), who read and commented consistenty… when no one else was looking.

    Thanks for coming out the woodwork to make a connection… but mostly for encouraging and believing in me. Not sure if I would have kept at it, if no one was interacting. Sometimes it just takes one person to support our courage.

    Namaste.

  7. Karin,

    I love this post! Being the “people person” that I am. I will never forget moving to GA, meeting our new neighbors, visiting our neighborhood stores … introducing myself and Ken to as many folks as possible as I am the extravert and Ken is the introvert, I took on the mission first hand. Ken stated, “You remind of my mother, how can you just go right up and meet new people, spark a conversation …” I am glad to say that now I see Ken getting right out there striking up those conversations, getting connected. Be the spark, you never know WHO you will impact.
    Nancy

  8. Awesome story Karin! My wife and I made a similar connection during a cruise. I often get in trouble for making friends, big trouble on our honeymoon as I played water volleyball too long one day, but we connected to an awesome couple. We stay in touch with them to this day and have vacationed with them, on purpose this time, again. Thanks for reminding me, you don’t have to a reason to connect with someone. As Keith Farrazi would say, “Never Eat Alone.”

  9. Happened to me this morning on the train platform. An elderly couple taking their first train trip. They wanted to connect to gain some insight into how this train thing really works. “When do they take our tickets?” “Can we get up and walk around?” “Are we allowed to bring our coffee on the train with us?” All reasonable questions and with each of my responses, I could see the angst fall out of their faces, replaced with confidence. Nice gift to me…starting my hectic day that way.

  10. “Where have you found joy in random connections?”
    – Right here Karin 🙂

    To whom can you offer that gift?
    – Anybody you think who might need it. I think it’s a gift for yourself as well. A little break from your own issues possibly, and if given genuinely without the need for a return, you can’t help but walk away enriched.

    • Dallas, Agreed. You are another person whom I’ve met through this blog that’s making all the difference. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to nuture connections with people around the world. I continue to be inspired by your creativity and gumption. Namaste.

  11. What a beautiful post, Karin! And such an important reminder to notice the small as well as big things in life. I tend to put on my ears and listen to music as soon as I take my airline seat…the message is clear: not available for conversation! And yet time after time, I hear wonderful stories of how great contacts are made while on cross-country flights. Why do I hesitate?

    It takes energy to focus our attention on others. It means I have to pull away from a pre-occupation with self. I am not allowed to be self-indulgent.

    And yet, when I do reach out I find the very reasons I hesitate are precisely why I need to do it…after all, it’s not all about me.

  12. Karin, Thanks!

    Fortunately for me, I read this early in the a.m. Your post inspired me to double-back and restart my day. I blew past at least 4 opportunities to connect in the first 20 minutes of the what appears to be a normal action packed day.

    How did I know that I missed a connection… I could see it in their eyes and hear it in the infectious enthusiasm of their “GOOD-MORNING, Phil”. In my restart I learned that they each had something relevant to share… enriching my life and validating their own.

    So, Thanks – for causing me to slow-down just enough to not miss my connections. -Phil

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