I recently returned from a 7 day backcountry mountain biking trip in Colorado and Utah with six delightful women. It was truly an adventure- just us ladies with minimal personal items as we had to carry everything on our bikes and backs. We were out in the wilderness with no cell coverage or internet so phones served only as cameras and for an entire week there was no calling kids and family, no email, no texting, and definitely no Facebook! We were truly off the grid and disconnected. And a fabulous thing happened during the trip----we all really connected.
I didn’t know most of these women prior to the trip, and signing up to do an intense week of travel with 4 strangers appeared to be a huge leap of faith. Yet as we rode up to 12,500 feet on that first day over a mountain pass- all of us huffing and puffing and wondering if our lungs might explode- we quickly became a team, supporting and encouraging each other.
Through long days in the saddle and cozy nights in tiny huts, we shared many laughs and stories; by the end of the trip we were confessing more about our private lives (and private parts) than we all have in decades! Without the distractions of life and technology it was easy to give each other the time and the presence to connect and get to know each other.
This experience with six unique women --each with different backgrounds-- also revealed how similar we are in our base desires and needs. When we’re disconnected and looking at people on the surface through a superficial lens, it’s easy to assume we are so different. But strip everything down to the basics and we are all one. After many long days on our bikes together I only saw the things that we all need…shelter, sustenance, love and support from others.
You don’t need to head out into the wild to find connection; it can be found in your daily life if you allow it in. Connection requires showing your true self to another and allowing them to feel safe enough to do the same. You can do this today with a few simple practices:
1. Turn off your devices. Next time you meet up with a friend or colleague, put your phone away and give them your full attention. Listen with intention and see if you learn something new.
2. Ask new questions. “How are you?” does not always encourage true dialogue. Try asking something like “What has been inspiring you lately?”
3. Find something in common. Notice your own internal dialogue. Are you always looking at how people are different than you? My grandfather, a practicing surgeon into his mid-70s, once told me a secret to his success: he always tried to discover at least one thing he had in common with each patient who came through his door. His advice has stayed with me over the years and reminds me to do the same in my work and personal life.
Let me know how you connect!