Fostering Meaningful Connections
Scientists estimate that it took 17 million of years for the Grand Canyon to become the wonder that we know it as today. 17 million years! Can you imagine that?! It took 17 million years for this “Wonder of the World” to be endowed with the title “Grand.” Such a large number is, for me, inspiring, because it allows me to go much easier on myself when I don’t right away get the “grand” outcomes that I’m looking for. How can I expect to do anything “grand” without putting in “grand” time? I’m encouraged too, by seeing the pain that the canyon experienced over the years by the constant erosion caused by the Colorado River. If not for the persistent flow of activity by the River, the Canyon not only would no be Grand, but it also would not exist.
All of this tells me that Grand things take Grand time, and that if we persist it promises to be painful, as pieces of us that no longer serve us are taken away during the flow of the process. This letting go can be difficult; it’s far easier in the short-term to keep things as they are, but life constantly reminds us that in order to have what we have never had we must do what we have never done, which requires a sacrifice, a giving up of what no longer serves us.
For the Grand Canyon, this giving up is of rock and sediment; for you and me, maybe it’s old thought patterns. Maybe it’s old habits that are keeping us down; or well-meaning friends, family, or colleagues that are discouraging us from growing, keeping us from operating on a higher level. Maybe it’s an old dream, or maybe it’s our current job that’s holding us back. The feeling of comfort, security, and stability is perhaps the greatest poison for innovation; for the comfortable person has no reason to seek anything more, to seek anything greater for his or her life. Leaving the security of the known for the unknown is simultaneously the scariest notion and the beginning of a fantastic adventure story. No story worth hearing ever began with “Once upon a time the world was safe, and nothing terrible happened…the end.” If that’s your story, and you’re happy with it, good for you. As for me, and as for those who are no longer content with being “good” but rather wish to become Grand, we’re hungry for something more. We’re not comfortable being comfortable anymore. And to leave that comfort requires giving up what no longer serves us. We’re operating from a different level now.
The good news is that we don’t have to go it alone. The Grand Canyon would not exist if not for the relationship that it fostered with the Colorado River 17 million years ago. This tells us that our own greatness will not exist without building important and meaningful relationships.
My mentor, John Maxwell, says that as leaders we should seek not to be a reservoir, but rather a river, allowing the benefits of our accumulated knowledge, skills, and experience, to flow through us, rather than stay with us. I like this metaphor because it encourages us to build relationships much like the Colorado River. If we show people the way to greatness, they will want to follow us. But first it requires a connection.