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The best advice I can give you

The past twelve months have been amongst the most demanding of my life.

Some very exciting things happened:

  • Changing the World 101 grew beyond my expectations
  • Escape the Matrix and Lead went into beta mode (more on that soon!)
  • I got involved with an incredible NGO
  • I published my first articles
  • And I traveled to four countries

And some very challenging things happened:

  • I broke up with my girlfriend of over a year
  • Five of the people in my life – two still in their twenties – passed away

And through all of the highs and lows I’ve realized something: it’s not the accomplishments and the difficulties that define a life.

It’s the people.

Without friends and family to support me, I wouldn’t have made it through the challenging times very well. Without friends and family to motivate me and celebrate with, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the exciting things I worked on.

What I realized is that it’s all about human connection.

And here is the best advice I can give you: invest in your relationships. Surround yourself with kind and supportive people who help you dream. Three excellent people in your life who you know well will be much more satisfying than three hundred acquaintances.

If you want to find the courage to change the world, if you want to excel as a leader or social entrepreneur, if you want to master a personal goal, or if you want to get the most out of your twenties – invest in your relationships.

Your success will be better, faster, and more satisfying when you can share it. Your struggles will be more bearable when you can be supported by people who care about you.

You know that small handful of people who you really care about? Who support you? Your one or two best friends, your family members, your significant other?

Connect with them. Now. If now doesn’t work, then very soon.

And really connect with them. The demands of modernity – completely filled calendars, high stress jobs with unrealistic expectations, and the hidden pressure to always be interesting and “on the scene” – make it easy to disconnect without realizing it.

The tools of modernity – facebook, Skype, email, text messages – often create the illusion of connection, without the substance.

So take the time right now to pick up the phone and have a real conversation. Book the ticket to see that person you adore but haven’t seen in a while. Put pen to paper and write a playful yet heartfelt letter. Make a date to grab a beer or a coffee with that person who lives on the other side of your city.

And sometimes be the first one to open up – it takes connection to the next level.

And listen. Really listen.

Honestly opening up, and truly listening are the keys to connection.

I could drone on and on about how to network with impossible to meet people, how to publish short articles, how to give a good speech, and how to throw it all to the wind and travel the world for a while – and perhaps on another day I will – but I assure you that it will all be meaningless if you don’t have a few people who you really care about, and who really care about you, in your life.

The best advice I can give for any type of meaningful success: invest in your relationships.

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4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The best advice I can give you”

  1. Rodney June 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Excellent post. Was chatting with my wife last evening about some of the great students that we get to work with (you know a couple of them). Then we focused on the ones that we really liked … but that really seemed to be lacking drive, or spirit or … something like that. Maybe it’s because my relationship with that student is not in the venue of his or her passion. Perhaps if I saw some of these students in their element, I would see this spirit. But the students that I know that are truly great makes every venue their element. Reading your post, I think the lesson for me is to see the best in each student by continuing to give my best; to make my investment in the relationship the best it can be. In turn, I may see something that I wasn’t able to see before. -Rodney

  2. Leonid Morozov June 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Mr. Connell,

    I find great pleasure in finally being able to respond to this post. It is not often that I have the opportunity to sit behind a computer, as you see, I live in the Grozny, Chechnya; I’m sure that a well traveled man like yourself is very familiar with my city and our plight. I am an only child from a Russian mother and an American father. I know it is common to think that all sons of an American father and Russian mother are the result of a mail-order bride transaction, but let me assure you Sir this is not the case.

    My girlfriend Irinushka won a scholarship to study in America at Plymouth State University, where she saw your presentation and attended your workshop. I am certain you will remember her.

    I consider myself an educated person and am wondering if you, with your knowledge and experience, could talk to me about the evolution and the record of policies aimed at promoting development. You may think of this as the issue of development policies under globalization vis-à-vis the relevance of the Western developmental model for a successful balanced approach to development.

    I really look forward to hearing from you as I am a follower of you techniques and philosophies, even from this remote part of the world… 🙂 🙂

    Respectfuly yours,
    Leonid Morozov

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