We live in a connected world!  Have you ever taken a moment to consider the multiple meanings of that phrase? From a technological perspective our connections will expand exponentially over the next two years. The growing Internet of Things movement will drive this expansion.  In 2017 Gartner Research shared that between 2016 and 2017 the number of devices used to connect to the internet had increased 31% to 8.4 billion. The forecast is that by 2020 that number will reach 20.4 billion.  From a political/economic perspective it is safe to say that every economy is connected and a political decision designed to impact one nation’s economy will evidence a rippling effect worldwide effect (How tariffs aimed at China could ripple through emerging-market currencies)  But let’s consider some equally, if not more important connections, those we have with our faith, our families, our friends, and others.
Now more than ever we need leaders who connect with their faith. However, let’s remember that faith is not a religion, rather it is a belief in something far greater than yourself.  It is being able to look inside yourself and understand the truth that guides your life and what you do on a daily basis.  It is knowing that everything you do is connected to the life of another, and it is considering that knowledge in your daily actions.  It is surrendering control, It is being a servant leader.  (Unsteady:  The Importance of Faith in Leadership)
“No man is an island” wrote John Donne in 1624.  It is family that grounds us and it is family that often serves as our first retreat from the world, but how hard do we work to make that connection?  I think Carin Kilby Clark sums it up well in her blog, Why Keeping Your Family Connected Matters.  “Keeping your family connected matters because it’s what grounds us. The relationship between a parent and child is just like any other — it requires attention, purpose and is hard work to maintain to avoid becoming passing ships. When you create a family, when you bring a life — or in my case, multiple lives — into the world, you have a responsibility to ensure that they are not just in the world, but that they understand how they belong to the world. And that connection starts at home. It starts in your family. It starts with you.
Likewise, the friendship connection begins with and must be maintained by you.  How important is it?  Some studies (Why Friends May be More Important than Family) say that our connections with our friends become increasingly important to health and happiness, especially as we age.  Lead researcher William Chopik at the University of Michigan ’studied 270,000 people in four countries and found that people reporting strong bonds with friends and family had a higher overall level of happiness.  This wasn’t a surprise as previous research revealed that good relationships with your friends can make you less stressed, healthier and better able to cope with rejection.  A conversation between Charlotte and Wilbur in E.B.White’s book, Charlotte’s Web leaves us with a wonderful example of our need to connect with others and the love and sacrifice that often is associated with a friendship.
“Why did you do all this for me?”  Wilbur asked.
“I don’t deserve it because I’ve never done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte.  
“That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
How “connected” are you and have you been working to maintain and strengthen those connections?  There’s a challenge to embrace this week!  Have a great one!