A friend called today, stressed out. She said, “I’ve been going nonstop. I keep promising myself I’ll get away for a few days as soon as I get ‘caught up,” but that never happens. I always feel I’m a day late and a dollar short. Any suggestions?”
I told her about a movie One Day I saw in the hopes it might give her some perspective.
If someone asked me to describe it, I would say, “It’s about the fickleness and fate of timing. It’s about putting off what we really want to do for a someday that may never come. It’s about the illusion of thinking there will be a perfect time to do what calls us and connect with who calls us – one day when we’re not so busy, when we have our ducks in a row.”
In this movie, two people meet cute at graduation. They’re on their way to a date when his parents show up early. This unexpected intervention turns these would-be soulmates into a same-time-next-year friendship.
The movie chronicles the ups and downs of the passing years as they find themselves and what they’re looking for (or not). One becomes romatically interested in the other, only to discover the other is in a relationship. Their life together is a series of missed connections.
My friend Mary Loverde, author of “I Used to Have a Handle on Life But It Broke,” says, “All life is a connection bid.” She believes the health of our relationships – and the wealth of our life – depends on whether we respond to connection bids.
Connection bids are when someone reaches out in an attempt to close the gap between us. It’s a way of saying, “We’re one, not two.”
A connection bid can be as simple as asking, “How was your day?”
As mundane as, “Want me to pick up a cup of coffee for you while I’m out?”
As easy as greeting you when you come home or walk into the office.
As short as a text asking, “Whazzup?”
If you acknowledge the person reaching out and respond positively – you’ve connected.
If you ignore them, turn down their offer, or promise to get back to them when you’re not so busy – you’re disconnected.
As that movie showed; many of us are so caught up in our crazy busy lives, we don’t recognize, make time for, or honor connection bids when they come our way.
We don’t realize that what we really want – what really matters in the long run – is often right here, right now, right in front of us.
When I saw that movie, I thought of all the times my young sons had offered to help and I had turned them down.
I would be taking groceries in from the car and Andrew would say, “Want some help?” I’d say, “No thanks, hon, I’ve got it” without even realizing I was shutting him down.
I’d be working on a new book and Tom would ask, “Want some water?” I’d say, “Thanks, I’ve already got some.”
Arrghh. They had reached out and I hadn’t reached back. I had dropped the connection ball.
Thank heaven we have a good relationship but I wish I could go back and say “YES, I’d like some help. YES, I’d like some water. Thank you for offering.”
There’s a different version of this “disconnection” that unfolded in one of the most poignant interviews I’ve ever seen.
Journalist Rita Braver interviewed Steve Martin on CBS Sunday Morning. Steve is a genius, yet based on their discussion, he wasn’t a very happy man at the time.
Rita started with questions about the evolution of his career, starting from when he was the #1 comedian in the world. (Remember the arrow in the head, a “wild and crazy guy” and “Excuuse Mee?!”)
He frequently appeared on the Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live and had top-selling comedy albums. Yet he walked away from it because, as he told Rita, he felt he couldn’t “top himself.” The pressure of being funny all the time became too much.
He transitioned into acting, (remember Parenthood and The Jerk), wrote books and plays, hosted the Emmys and won Grammys.
Yet, the entire time, Steve confessed he never really felt he had “arrived.” He was always onto the next new thing.
Toward the end of the interview, Rita looked at Steve almost tenderly and asked, almost as if to reassure or comfort him, “So, it’s really turned out okay, hasn’t it?”
Martin shrugged and said, “If only someone had told me that 30 years ago, I could have relaxed and enjoyed it.”
Wow. The poignancy of his remark and his regret have stayed with me for years.
It seemed, for Steve, the jury had always been out. He had never stopped, looked around, and realized he had a good life right there and then. It seemed he had never deeply connected with the people and experiences he was having. That happiness was always “out there,” somewhere in the future.
To bring this message home, could it be you already have a good life right here and now that deserves to be noticed, appreciated, imprinted, connected with?
Are there people reaching out who want to connect with you – and they’re waiting for you to reach back?
Have you been promising yourself you’ll connect with them when you’re not so busy, when that project is finished, when things slow down at work?
Please understand once and for all … YOU’LL NEVER GET ALL CAUGHT UP.
Take the time NOW to complete those connection bids.
Reach back to friends and family members who are reaching out to you.
Instead of putting off someone or something that is important to you, take time to do it today.
The happiness we seek is not out there somewhere in the future.
It is right here, right now, if we just take the time to stop, look around … and connect.
– – –
Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of The Intrigue Agency and 3 time TEDx speaker, helps people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her books have been featured in NY Times, on NPR, and presented to NASA, Boeing, Intel, Cisco, YPO, Accenture, Nationwide, and Capital One.