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How to Avoid the Disconnection Epidemic

How to Avoid the Disconnection Epidemic

reflection

    Reflection on disconnection

    In 2009 we are indeed a global community infected by disconnection. On many levels and in many ways. And as a planet and as a tribe living on that planet, it’s safe to say that the Disconnection Epidemic is killing us. Or perhaps should I say, we’re killing us. Metaphorically and literally. Just take a look around at the consequences of our global disconnected-ness. You and I live in a time when mankind is hemorrhaging on many levels; physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and environmentally, and yet despite our condition, we seem to be resistant to learning. We have managed to both progress and regress at the same time. Quite the achievement. It seems that the more educated, informed and  equipped we become (as a population), the more selfish, short-sighted, illogical and destructive we become also. For a species which regards itself as the intellectual superior to all others, we have an amazing knack for stupidity and irrational behaviour. I don’t know of any other species that has the ability to wreak havoc on it’s own kind like we Homo Sapiens do. Modern Man; what an ironic term. If only the dolphins were running the show. Not only are we seeing disconnection between individuals in homes, schools and workplaces but also on a much larger scale, between cultures, countries, religions, generations, governments, political groups and so on. And no, I’m not talking about normal healthy ideological, philosophical, theological and political differences here, I’m talking about large-scale attitudes, choices and behaviours that continue to create division, devastation, destruction and mass disconnection.

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    When I’m the boss of the world, I’ll address it.

    Until then…

    That may take a while, so in the mean time… what can you and I do to create a greater level of connection with the inhabitants of our own little cosmos? Of course we probably won’t create a global shift or be the genesis for some kind of cosmic awakening in the next week or two (although… ), but in the interim there’s a bunch of stuff you and I can do to create a much greater level of connection, understanding and harmony with those lucky enough to be in our own personal orbit.

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    Talking with, not at

    While there are many variables that will impact on and affect the kind of connection we do or don’t create with the people in our own atmosphere, there is no more important “connection tool” than that of effective communication. And as obvious and fundamental as this sounds, it is often our inability to communicate effectively with those in our world (family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even strangers) which lies at the core of the disconnected reality that so many of us inhabit. Effective communication happens when we have a genuine desire to connect with people in a meaningful and productive manner. For too many of us, talking regularly equates to neither communication nor connection. Some people want to create a deeper level of communication, understanding and connection, while others simply want to talk at people and massage their ego. Ever seen what happens in parliament? Gold. Talking at people will create disconnection while talking with people will create connection – or at the very least, open the door on a healthier and more productive relationship. One is all about being heard and imposing one’s thoughts, ideas, beliefs and will, while the other is all about listening, understanding, empathising and of course, creating connection.

    Here are some no-brainer “connectors”…

    1. Work to build trust and respect. If there’s no trust or respect there can be no real connection. What often appears to be connection is in fact acting and/or manipulation on one person’s part. Simulated rapport I call it. We learn this kind of stuff in basic retail sales training. It’s not connection; it’s role-playing.
    2. Ask the right kind of questions. Ask questions that will generate meaningful dialogue; open-ended questions, not yes-no questions. Ask questions which demonstrate that you’re interested in what the other person has to say.
    3. Work to increase your awareness and to become an active listener. If you are serious about creating connection with someone then give them one hundred percent of your attention in that moment. Yep; all of it. Don’t be anywhere else (mentally). This is not always easy for us as our cerebral landscape tends be a very busy “place”. However, it is a very valuable skill to develop. Do your best to understand the other person’s perspective and thoughtfully consider the intended meaning of their words. Don’t be like many who simply wait for a gap in proceedings to launch their own self-indulgent monologue. As a general rule, listen more than you speak.
    4. Read the non-verbal communication. In any conversation, the words are only part of the message and sometimes, a small part. What people don’t say will often tell you more than what they do. Listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
    5. Speak their language. All the talking in the world will result in zero connection if you’re both speaking different languages. And we see this all the time; the boss and the employee, the mother and daughter, the teacher and the student, the tech-dude (Johnny) and the non-tech-dude (me). Lots of words but no understanding, no connection and no positive outcome. While most of us understand English, we all speak our own “language”. What will motivate one person will intimidate another. What will make me laugh will offend my neighbour. What will make complete sense to you could be totally confusing to your parents (think computer). Know who you’re talking with and learn their language if it’s connection you’re after.

    Acknowledge their feelings. You don’t need to agree with people to understand them, to respect their point of view or to create genuine connection. Having the same philosophy on everything is not a pre-requisite for connection; if it was, we’d all be in a bunch of trouble.

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    The Last Bit

    The disconnection chat, is indeed a much bigger one than the mere morsel I’ve given you to chew on today. It is something that impacts on virtually every area of the human experience (great and small), and something that I believe needs to be addressed in a practical, humble and honest fashion if we are serious about undoing some of the damage we’re living in today. One individual can’t save six billion, neither can she change the mind of the global power brokers or single handedly steer the S.S.Humanity. However, when enough individuals get together, the few become many and we begin to see a shift in power and a practical, positive consequence in our physical world. That is, real change. So if you’ve been impacted by disconnection on any level (and welcome to the club), my suggestion for you is, rather than allowing yourself to be a victim of disconnection (yep, it’s a choice), work to become a connector. Genuine transformation and connection works from the inside-out and today (like every day) is an opportunity for you to become part of the solution, rather than a perpetuator of the problem.

    Every day I choose to create connection and to be part of the solution because I have that choice and that power. I encourage you to join me.

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    As always, love your thoughts.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on October 14, 2019

    12 Inspirational Speeches That Teach You the Most Valuable Life Lessons

    12 Inspirational Speeches That Teach You the Most Valuable Life Lessons

    The most valuable thing an experienced person has is their experience. People make mistakes, learn from them, and adapt their life around them to become better people. Those people would then tell tales to others to help teach those lessons so that others would not have to make the same mistakes.

    People still tell these stories today but in a slightly different format — they use speeches to express their experiences. Here are some valuable life lessons you can learn from some of the greatest inspirational speeches:

    1. JK Rowling teaches us to not fear failure no matter how bad things become

    It is a well-known fact that JK Rowling’s now-famous Harry Potter series was turned down by several publishers before it was finally picked up. Those publishers are likely kicking themselves in the pants right now. However, before that, JK Rowling was in a fairly dire situation and was on the brink of failure. Despite being turned down time and time again, she kept trying. Her efforts paid off. Harry Potter is now a ubiquitous character in today’s world culture. Despite failing over and over again, Rowling kept trying and fulfilled her dreams. You can watch her deliver some valuable life lessons in her Harvard commencement speech video above.

    2. Steve Jobs teaches us to never settle

    Steve Jobs had a fairly tumultuous life. He co-founded Apple, was kicked out of the company, came back, and then re-defined the mobile phone space with the iPhone. Even if iPhones aren’t the rage they once were, its iconic value is forever written in stone. One thing Jobs never did was settle. He lived life on his own terms and was rewarded for it by being dubbed one of the most revolutionary voices in technology of our time. In the Stanford commencement speech above, Jobs explains how you should never settle for what someone else wants out of your life. It’s your life and you should do what you want with it.

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    3. Admiral William H McRaven teaches us to make our beds every day

    Anyone who has gone through the basic training of a military service will tell you it’s pretty difficult. However, every seemingly obnoxious step is actually a life lesson in disguise. This even applies to flawlessly making one’s bed every single morning. As Admiral William H McRaven teaches us, recruits are taught to make their beds every morning to remind them that even the little things in life matter. After all, how can you be expected to handle the biggest obstacles in your life if you can’t even handle the small and the mundane like making your bed every day? You can watch the entire speech in the video above.

    4. Author David Foster Wallace teaches us that we’re a part of a greater existence

    David Foster Wallace found fame in 1987 with his book The Broom of the System. Nearly 20 years later in 2005 he game a commencement speech at Kenyon College that is worth listening to at least once. In his speech, he reminds us that was are but a part of a huge, dynamic, ever changing interaction of life forms. In order to truly experience life, we need to leave our personal bubbles and interact with others even if it’s in an unpleasant way. Wallace states, “It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.” You can watch the whole speech above.

    5. Stephen Colbert teaches us that life isn’t something you can plan

    If there is anyone who knows about improvisation, it’s comedian Stephen Colbert. In his commencement speech at Northwestern University in 2011, Colbert reminded students that you cannot plan life. Life throws too many curve balls. There are too many unpredictable things that can happen. The most successful and happy people are not those who have a plan, but those who can roll with the punches and overcome the obstacles. He goes on to site his time as an improv comic and how all of the actors working together to create a scene out of literally nothing are all working for one another. He states that like improv comedy, you don’t know what happens next in life. You just make it up as you go along. You can watch the whole speech above.

    6. Kurt Vonnegut teaches us to not sweat the small stuff

    Some of our younger readers may not know Kurt Vonnegut. He is a famous author that found of of his success during the middle of last century. In 1999, Kurt Vonnegut was at Agnes Scott College giving a commencement speech. During the speech, he mentioned that in order to live a more complete life, people needed to let stuff go. He argued that you cannot reasonably expect others to forgive you for your mistakes if you cannot forgive others and that you cannot live life fostering a personal vendetta against others.

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    7. Neil Gaiman teaches us that success can be distracting.

    Neil Gaiman is most known for his work in a number of literary mediums including journalism, comic books, and novels. In 2012, Gaiman gave a speech at the University of the Arts where he talked about success. He stated that when you become successful, you may be unintentionally swayed from performing the actions that made you successful. Gaiman recalled his early success and how he felt pressured to answer emails all day long and it actually prevented him from writing as much as he wanted. So he reminds us to keep doing what makes us successful and to not let others get in the way.

    8. Barack Obama’s life lessons teaches us that you really can beat the odds

    We know that not everyone likes Barack Obama but that doesn’t mean the man can’t deliver an amazing speech. In this 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convenction, Obama reminds that it is possible to beat the odds and become something great. He cites his own upbringing as an example and how he was never expected to make it as far as he did. It shows that when you’re passionate about something and when you try hard enough, you can accomplish almost anything. It’s important to note that Obama talks about this in 2004 and would become the President of the United States just four years later.

    9. Robin Roberts reminds us that we each have the courage to overcome challenges

    Robin Roberts knows a thing or two about courage. She is a breast cancer survivor and has done battle with a rare blood disease called myelodysplastic syndrome. Her sister once had to donate bone marrow just so Robin could remain alive. She was also ESPN’s first African American broadcaster in the early 1990’s. She’s a woman who works in an industry predominately populated by men. So when Robin Roberts takes the stage at the ESPYs and delivers a short lecture on having courage, we would do well to listen!

    10. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that some things are more important than success

    We all know the story of Martin Luther King Jr. So much so that we have a day of the year to celebrate him as a national holiday here in the United States. Most of us have listening to segments of his famous speech where he told the world about a dream he had. The main message of his famous speech is that racial inequalities needed to end and he was absolutely right. However, he also reminds us that there are things that are more important than success such as equal rights and treating each other with respect and kindness. If you somehow made it through school without watching the famous speech, we’ve got it linked above.

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    11. Jim Carrey reminds us that even if you keep it safe, you can still fail so you might as well go big

    Jim Carrey delivered a commencement speech at Maharishi University recently that went absolutely viral. You may know it as the one minute video that will change your life. They weren’t lying but they weren’t telling the whole truth because the speech was actually 28 minutes long. During the speech, Carrey talks about his father who wanted to be a comedian but decided to take the safe route and become an accountant. As it turns out, his father was laid off and his family ended up poor anyway. With that, Carrey tells us that you can still end up failing even if you play it safe so you might as well swing for the fences and do what you want to do.

    12. Bill Murray teaches us that it’s the hard times that determine if someone really loves you

    You may have heard the story about Bill Murray crashing someone’s bachelor party and delivering a speech. It turns out the speech was both short and fairly epic. During the speech, Bill Murray challenged the bachelors to travel around the world with the women they love and go to places that are difficult to go to and deal with. He says if you can get back to the United States and you still love each other, then you should get married right then and there. It’s a great message. It’s easy to love one another when times are good but do you still love each other when the times are bad? If so, that’s true love according to Bill Murray.

    Final thoughts

    Inspiration comes from everywhere and from anyone. There are a countless number of speeches and stories that can teach us an incalculable number of life lessons.

    All these speeches almost share the same message: Don’t be afraid to fail and keep trying.

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    If you also want to live your best life like the above successful people, this is what you should start doing:

    You’ll Only Live Your Best Life Once You Step Out

    At the end of the day, everything is inspirational. It’s just a matter of finding the message that we need to hear to change our lives.

    Featured photo credit: Miguel Henriques via unsplash.com

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