When I moved to Raleigh, I didn’t know a soul here. I didn’t have a job here, I didn’t have new co-workers. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. It was incredibly isolating.
So I decided to change that. My goal was simple, but not easy – one conversation with a new person each day, and coffee or a meal with a new person each week. I kept that up for years. As an introvert that needs people, it was both a challenge and fun.
And it worked. I soon had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, from many different segments of society. It worked so well I quit doing it.
These days, I have a set of coworkers I love, but that I spend most of my daylight hours with. Instead of walking the streets all hours of the day and night in pursuit of my work, these days I do most of my work at our Community Engagement Center, so in effect the streets come to me. I feel rushed a lot, and always behind, so it’s easy to not prioritize outside meetings or meals.
It is incredibly isolating.
I hate that it is so easy for me to feel so busy that I don’t have time to prioritize relationships, when the reality is, those relationships are my work.
Facebook makes this both better and worse. Better, because I have friends I first met nine years ago in one of those weekly coffee meetings that I have been able to keep up with, see their kid’s pictures from recital, and hear about how they have learned new things, developed new passions, heard about their marriages, their divorces, their hopes and their struggles.
And it makes it worse, because some of those people live six blocks from me and I haven’t laid eyes on them in more than a year. Because I still feel “connected” to them. It’s maddening.
Not only is it bad for me – it’s bad for business. Love Wins Ministries was born as a result of those conversations years ago. So many of the projects I have developed over the years began in conversations over coffee. Much of what actually fed me and kept me alive in those early years came about because of those meetings.
So I intend to make 2017 the year of intentional connection. This is the year I begin having intentional meetings to develop relationships. It is the year I begin to commit to coffee dates again, to meeting new people, to finding new opportunities, to learning new things. This is the year I commit to lean in to the hard work of relationships – because, as I am fond of saying, all of us are better than any of us.
So, if I haven’t seen you in ages – I want to have lunch. If we are really only “Facebook friends”, I want us to be real friends. If you only see yourself as one of my “fans” – I hate that term, but more and more people are introducing themselves to me that way – please let’s really connect. And if my assistant reaches out to you with a lunch invitation, please know that means I thought it was important, and that you are important. Because honestly, if my assistant doesn’t schedule it, it probably isn’t going to get scheduled.