I see the crystal raindrops fall
And the beauty of it all
Is when the sun comes shining through
To make those rainbows in my mind
When I think of you sometime
And I wanna spend some time with you
Just the two of us
We can make it if we try
Just the two of us
-Grover Washington Jr and Bill Withers
I would really like to pose this as a question, “Are we losing the two of us’ in society? At home, at work, at our children’s school, with our aging parents, in neighborhood playgrounds, at our local coffee shop?… But I do not believe any of us need to pose this as a question anymore, we see it and we have fallen prey to it ourselves (unless we chose to live off the grid or are painstaking in our daily routines and rituals). We know we are not there or fully with those we want or need to spend time with personally and professionally and it is harming us.
We have taken a huge fancy to our computer-capable iPhones + Samsungs, our Netflix, our Amazon Prime (are you smiling as if I am talking about your VERY good friends here?) I am, I am in awe of them all.My colleague MacKenzie sent me a very powerful article last week (link below) about loneliness and burnout in the workforce and how it’s particularly impacting in-every-detrimental-way-possible our Millennials and Genz. From anxiety to depression to suicide. Lonely, lost, despair. Our need for strong connections are there, yet our brains are somewhere else, rewired. The casualty, we are losing each other. We are losing the ‘just two of us.’ We need self-imposed, work imposed or family imposed interventions (and sometimes more).
“Why is your phone screen black and white,” I asked my older brother Tony who is the most deliberate person I know about structure, routines, fitness, and health.
“Because the world out there is what’s in color, not the world on your phone,” he responded. He made his phone less appealing and it worked for him. I tried it and it worked for me too until I wanted to take photos and ‘forgot’ to turn it back to grayscale.
Four years ago I launched a company to focus on how to build “the two of us” relationships at work. Even called it Twomentor (cause Rob Base said in his song ‘it takes two to make things go right’ and it takes two, to mentor) By increasing mentoring cultures we can elevate women in STEM fields, drive employee engagement, retention and knowledge transfer.
Four years later, as I reflect on our work, I realize that increasing belonging, connection, decreasing loneliness would also become BIG priorities. The “America’s Loneliness Epidemic” study came out and the World Health Organization classified Burnout as an official disease. We become an engineered intervention to better humanize the workforce and drive connecting.
Time and time I’d see the smiles appear when we ran flash mentoring (think speed dating) sessions globally. A little fun and a little engineering would crack the screens and we would really see each other again, eye to eye, Zoom to Zoom, here to help and to learn from each other. The goodness of people comes out. We were nourishing the psychological starvation we have of a need to connect. HOPE!
iPhones will not be going away. Netflix + Prime will only continue to gain market share and we will share our lists with joy (by the way, thanks to Karen + Renee we loved Fauda, the Spy, Goliath. Handmaids Tale on Hulu was intense!) but we need to understand the casualty of us in the process. Like my brother Tony, we need to share the steps we take to connect meaningfully with ourselves and each other both at home and at work. For me, I just started Yoga and will go on the beach paths of Boca with my family on our new-to-us from eBay Electric Scooters and set next lunch dates each time we meet with my Mom, Mother, and Sister-in-Law ). FaceTime can bring us closer to our relatives from afar and Zoom calls bring us into each other’s offices for coffee. Extra points if we actually turn our videos on and see eye to eye.
Do you have a weekly or daily strategy that helps you increase human connection, enjoy feel the fall crisp air, spend with a mentor or a friend on an ongoing basis for mutual support? Please share your experience.