I write a lot about the power of connection. It’s the foundation of many leaders’ stories of success. And, as they say, success leaves clues. So, as a detective, on the hunt for the best pathway for my own success, I have spent a lot of time studying. The most common theme among the most successful people that I admire (note, my definition of success is based upon the message that Zig Ziglar was so famous for:
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
The part that has recently been more relevant to me, is not as much about how connected one is, but how connectable.
Before I get into this, there are a lot of precautions we all must take to ensure we’re taking care of ourselves. I do not condone helping others at your own expense, or letting others take advantage of your kindness, however, I do believe that the gateway to happiness toward a successful life is in the giving back to those who find themselves seeking answers to questions and puzzles you’ve already solved. To me, it’s much more efficient that way!
So, what do I mean by being connectable? Here are two short stories:
1. When I sent an email earlier this year, to my favorite author, Seth Godin, I was sending it for myself – not knowing whether he would receive the email, but knowing that I needed to share my gratitude for the way his work and his example has molded and shaped me and given me hope to make a difference. To put it simply, I wanted to connect to him. And, it could have been that I just sent the email, and went on with my life, knowing how busy, popular, important he was. But that’s not what happened. Within 15 minutes, I had a reply. This is what being connectable, what being a leader worth following, what realizing the value of the people around you (the connections you make, simply by being alive), is all about.
2. Several years ago, I was still figuring out my place in my community. I looked out, as many people do, looking for answers. I don’t struggle to find people I can learn from – there’s a book that can help me learn anything I want. But I admit, I found it difficult to find a mentor locally, as I was designing a life I felt was worth living. I discovered something that was disappointing to me at the time – there was little accessibility to connect with the leaders of the community. Quite honestly, I saw a very closed environment. I sent a couple of emails, and tried to connect with some leaders via Facebook and LinkedIn, but my requests went unanswered – I eventually canceled the requests, because I felt embarrassed that I would even have asked for their time.
But there was one person who was accessible, and it’s quite possible he is one of the busiest people I now can say that I know, because he was connectable. I had not met this person yet, but we were connected on Facebook. I could see in his interactions a person who was accessible – connectable, and who would help me get some clarity on my path. So, I sent a Facebook message (I didn’t have his email), and I hoped for the best. Sure enough, I had a response from him later that day. His name is Bill Mutz, and he was just elected Mayor of Lakeland last month. And, to be quite honest, it is probably because he’s been willing to take the time to listen, to be connectable to a lot of people over the years.
I get the feeling that this is something new, trending, and challenging to the status quo leaders who have, for years, made deals in the back room, with their known contacts, getting it done their way.
I argue that today, the connections you have are only the beginning, and that being connectable is the way to succeed in a world seeking connection, and transparency.
So, be connected if you must, but the real work starts when you’re ready to be connectable.
Also published on Medium.