MD Anthony Madigan asks what role connection has to play in today’s divided and uncertain world.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen more disagreement, tribalism and antagonism than there is in the world right now. Wherever you look there are deep divides: social, political, environmental – the list goes on.
It’s no coincidence that there’s more uncertainty than ever, too. There’s always been a fear of forced change, but now there’s the deep uncertainty that comes with the loss of many traditional anchors that make life manageable and navigable, that allow us to get on and do our thing. Whether it’s restrictions on movement, reactions to election results, or even what’s ‘true’, it sometimes feels like we’re freewheeling in a world without foundations.
And we’ve all experienced some kind of distance in the last year. From family, good friends, colleagues, customers and clients. You don’t know what you have until you lose it, and I think we’ve all felt the loss and maybe come to a new understanding of the value of these human connections.
Change must come
What has forced this disconnection on us will pass (the causes of deep uncertainty will be slower to change but more of that in a minute). And we will be able to reforge the connections that are so important. But as we do, big changes are needed. Because this lack of deep human connection isn’t new. People have been suffering with its effects, in different ways, for as long as there’s been organised society and collective work.
The problems of disconnectedness in society are way beyond my powers to solve (but the last year has at least made me think about what more I can do to build relationships with people in my community). No, it’s connectedness with work and what that work creates that I’m concentrating on here.
Filling an empty space
There’s a gaping hole where the beating heart of business should be, a fundamental lack of purpose and deep human connection. It’s an empty space that breeds and feeds uncertainty, and it’s been diminishing lives and suppressing business performance for too long. We’ve felt the loss of connection in our day-to-day life; imagine what it will feel like, what we can do, when we put deep human connection at the centre of our whole lives.
Imagine the power of those connections across traditional divides: between bosses and employees; between the drivers of change and the people who have to go through it; between companies and customers; between ‘business’ and ‘the people’.
Imagine the reassuring islands of certainty that we can create, where people understand the difference they are making with their work and feel part of (and not a victim of) the change they’re going through.
A new era?
With new, deep human connections we can bridge the divides that are holding business back, and perhaps we can learn how to bridge divides with people in society who aren’t our natural collaborators. Perhaps we can enter an era of building purposeful common ground, the kind of satisfying and fulfilling existence that makes life and work worthwhile.
Of course, I believe that shaping and communicating powerful stories is the way to forge deep connections. And that’s what we at Write the Talk are committed to doing in 2021 and beyond: working with businesses to build human connection through deep-running narratives. There’s a lot at stake. Are you with us?