“Sometimes I wish the apocalypse would get here, already.”
My younger sister said this to me while we were talking about the state of the world.
She’s pregnant with twins. Boys this time. (She’s already got five kids — four are girls.)
The twins should be arriving on Planet Earth sometime around Christmas.
“I totally get that.”
Maybe you’ve felt that way, too?
It’s not that we want to die, per se.
We really just want the crazy-making to stop.
To be free of our dark, horrible despair.
Free of the death, disease and hatred that seem to be gaining speed on a daily basis.
To feel like our lives have purpose and meaning and that what we do each and every day isn’t in vain.
That collective sense of futility we all feel (to varying degrees)? That’s the new normal.
Some of us are sad.
Too many of us are clinically depressed.
We all worry. We’re all completely and utterly brokenhearted.
And yet, we’re still here.
We’re still here because at heart, we’re basically hopeful creatures.
We have this belief — however tenuous — that things will get better.
My sister keeps having babies.
I keep building my business, nurturing my family and growing my life here in Portland.
You’re probably birthing something precious right now, too.
We do this despite our internal struggles with the darkness.
We keep on keepin’ on even though we know that some new horrible and frightening thing will bombard our psyche tomorrow.
(And not just because binge-watching Netflix helps us mitigate the pain.)
Nope. We do this because we’ve got evidence — also shared daily via our media — that there’s a lot of good and beauty in this world.
What if we did something to grow our collective sense of hope?
A few months ago, I wrote about our then-current state of fuckery and suggested that the way we turn this hellish hand-basket around is by cultivating better relationships with each other:
We’ve got to build and deepen our connections with our clients, vendors, blog readers…with everyone we come in contact with. And to do that, we’ve got to actually spend quality time together. To expand our circles of reciprocity and see each other as real human beings.
When we spend quality time together (the kind where we’re not watching TV or looking at our phones), we tend to share more stories. We make an effort to listen to each other’s pain and joy. And we begin to heal our broken hearts — even just a little.
The reality is that most of the time, we just skim the surface with each other.
And I’m just as guilty as everyone else.
I’ll admit I’m a tad addicted to checking my email and Facebook feeds. Even though, 98% of what’s there is nothing but mindless drivel and ads.
It’s that 2% that keeps us hooked. We get an endorphin rush from those bits of “truly important updates” so our fear of missing out keeps us clicking the refresh button.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
You’re a smart cookie. You get that Facebook and Twitter and <insert your favorite channel here> could be used for SO much more than sharing soundbites and silly cat pictures.
Sure, we might occasionally reveal our outrage or sadness over the state of the world. We might also get the courage to have an adult conversation with someone on an opposing side.
But mostly we opt for updating our profile avatars in solidarity to a cause.
And that’s NOT going to be enough to get us past and through all the haunting madness.
(And neither will hoping for an apocalypse.)
We need to put the focus on what matters.
We need to stop spending precious time chasing a bigger list or more fans and followers.
We need to stop pouring so much of our creative energy into growing clicks, traffic and conversions.
What if — instead — you gave at least half of that time and energy to deepening the connections you’ve already got?
If you gave yourself permission to slow down. To write a handwritten thank you note. To share the beauty of someone else’s fabulous thing instead of your own? Or to listen with empathy and your whole self (put down your phone) to a client or colleague?
What if you prioritized your relationships over everything else? And not just with those you know well, but with all humans who happen to cross your path? (Even the ones who bug you. Especially those.)
What’s the worst that could happen?
I’m pretty sure it won’t kill your business.
Will it make you a million dollars? Or help your business grow faster?
Honestly? Probably not.
Do you really need the added pressure of creating “epic” content or “dominating the world?”
I don’t know about you, but my business is about SO much more than “crushing it online.”
I’ve learned that I don’t need my goals to be Big, Hairy Audacious ones for them to matter. (And yes, that’s a bit of a turnaround for me — the mother of the BHAG monster.)
Will shifting your focus like this stop the general trend of insanity out in the world?
I can pretty much guarantee it won’t. At least not now.
But that’s okay.
You and I both do.
The truth is, we can’t help it. (You saw It’s a Wonderful Life, right?)
And lasting world change must start somewhere.
Even if the only change you or I ever create stays within the bounds of our own friends and family (our own version of Bedford Falls), that’s still a gorgeous reason to try.
Also? I’m simply tired of seeing everyone around me feel brokenhearted and helpless.
And one of the best ways to combat that is with action.
Are you with me?
Do you know how or where to start?
Do you think it’s worth the effort?
I’m pretty sure if we give our attention to those who’re already here in front of us, we’ll create the kind of relationships that keep us from teetering off the edge of oblivion.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so.
There’s a Collective Urgency to Bloom Our Relationships
Ever heard of the cooking term “blooming” spices?
Here’s an explanation from FineCooking.com:
Spices are naturally fragrant, but to reach their full flavor potential, they need our help. Cracking and grinding spices is part of the equation. But it’s heat that really wakes up those aromatic oils. Toasting (dry heat) and blooming in oil (moist heat) are classic techniques.
Basically, when you add heat to your spices, you open up the cells of the spice and allow its full flavor to “bloom.”
It’s a way to take what you’ve already got and make it deeper, richer.
In the same way, if we add some warmth to our connections online, those relationships will go from shallow to deep. They’ll have more meaning to both parties.
Because Practice Helps Build Muscles (Especially Mental Ones)
A few months ago in one of my newsletters, I talked about creating a project — a 30-day challenge — that would help folks practice their relationship-building skills online.
The response was bigger than I’d anticipated.
Over the past several weeks I’ve been working backstage, inviting folks who seem to do this online relationship thing really well to join me in sharing their tips and pointers for deepening our relationships.
And we’re almost ready to share this unique bit of fun with the world.
All the details are ready for you. In fact, if you want to learn more and play along with us, you just need to raise your hand here.
Don’t give up hope! Don’t let the world break your heart.
Let’s work together and see if we can bring a little sanity back to our lives.
Also? Please tell your friends.
Share this with your colleagues, your clients, your vendors.
Let’s all be mindful of how fragile we humans are, and how strong we can be.
Let’s see if 30 days of action develops into longer-lasting and beautiful habits. Habits that open up the lines of communication and deepen the flavors of our connections to each other.
p.s. – What other ways could we work toward building and nurturing our collective sense of hope? Please chime in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!