Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to my son give a speech about leadership. In his short remarks, he said that leadership is about interconnectivity, empathy and attitude.
Of the three, he emphasized interconnectivity which is really community. We don’t necessarily have to have research to tell us that we’re social beings who need each other to be happy but there is plenty of it to support the obvious. Feeling connected is one of our basic drivers throughout life.
Happiness may be surprisingly contagious. Psychologist James H. Fowler studied the data of 5,000 people over 20 years and found that happiness benefits other people through three degrees of connection, and that the effects last for a year. He says: “We found a statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends’ happiness, but between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends’ happiness.” (PBS: This Emotional Life)
And staying connected enough to have empathy may be our biggest challenge as a culture. It’s one of the tangled strings in the tangled ball in our texting, friending and posting society.
But here’s the hopeful part (attitude!). It’s all evolving. There are smart, empathetic connected people who know the value of Facebook, Instagram and all things social media but who are actively giving a generation permission to remember that now, more than ever, we still need to get to know people face to face. Adding to the quality of other people’s lives adds to the quality of our own.
It’s fairly brave to swim in a slightly different direction. To say it’s ok to embrace something new but to pay attention to the thing that makes us click and makes us whole. Purpose.
Here’s to Ignite Good. Check out their mission. I dare you not to be inspired.