anxiety blocker #3: connect

May 1, 2020

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After five years of being a widower, Walter Baltes had enough. The former inventor, art gallerist and author decided to run a classified in the local paper: “Lonesome 95-year old offers Sunday roast in exchange for good conversation.” A slew of responses filled his mailbox soon after. However, none of the people Baltes joined for lunch did accept his offer to pay for the meal. His interesting company was compensation enough.

We are social animals. Being solitary over extended periods of time is not in our DNA. And yet, many of us find ourselves in situations when we feel isolated and alone. The “lonely-at-the-top syndrome” is a well-known struggle for executives as they climb the organisational ranks.

And like Baltes, we will tolerate isolation to a point. Looking at the global Covid19 pandemic, at first people were willing to go into social distancing and self isolation. However, only three weeks into lockdown and we see the percentage of people being done with social distancing rise in national surveys. When I walk our dog Apple to the park there are groups of  joggers together on the track, there no longer is a 2 m distance respected when people pass each other, and they sit on benches with a friend and smoke a cigar.

In order to thrive in business and in life, we depend on other people. As the research giant Gallup shared: we are seven times more engaged if we have a “best buddy at work.” So how do we do this in these extraordinary times when our need to connect might put others at risk? How creative can you get? And how can you manage virtual overstimulation? Well, even when we don’t get a reciprocal signal, just mailing a letter to a friend, offering a box of chocolates to a colleague who is recovering, or sending a short text to a family member will raise our well-being and sense of connection. You may even choose to reach out to someone that you could never connect with in the physical world. What can you do, right now, to feel more connected?

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