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Reaching Back

Last week I found myself thinking about a friend and colleague. We met in the late 80’s, when we were both starting out in the in the development finance field. We worked for different lenders and collaborated to provide start-up financing to a cooperative owned by Vietnamese fishermen in Boston.

The fishing cooperative did not survive. Our relationship as friends and colleagues flourished. As our careers grew we attended each other’s weddings, celebrated births and provided space to solve challenges and rejoice in victories. Over time, our careers moved in different directions and we lost touch.

One thing the research of Rob Cross and others has demonstrates again and again is the more broad, open and diverse our networks, the better our results are as leaders. If we circulate within a closed, insular network we tend to interact with others who are paying attention to similar things.

Due to the speed at which life is rushing towards us, many of us tend to surrender to letting our daily schedules drive our connectivity with others. We migrate toward sharing information and engaging in real time or virtual conversations with those in our current work and life spaces.

Falling into this pattern can limit the diversity of our thinking because we are not exposed to new ideas. We may also discover we are spending time with those who drain us instead of intentionally interacting more with those who inspire us.

As I work with leaders to think through how they can pro-actively make a shift in their networks, our minds often turn to new connections to initiate or deepen.

We tend to overlook re-connecting with those from our earlier careers or days as a student. Most of us have lost touch with at least one person who once inspired us to live and lead in a way that is consistent with what matters most.

Last week I re-connected to my colleague through a common friend. We are getting together in April. I can’t wait.

We now work in different arenas and spend time with people who are part of different networks. I hope that spark between us remains and we will, together , see new possibilities in our life and work.

How about you?

Go ahead.

Reach back.


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