The Connection Cure

Finally! My cell phone screamed, "INCOMING!"
I'd been pacing for twenty minutes waiting for this call, a critical deadline now only fifteen minutes away. I didn't even look at the display.

"Hello! This is Carl."
"Hello, Mr. Godlove. I'm calling from the Childhood Leukemia Founda--"

I cut her off

"I'm sorry. I can't talk right now. I'm expecting a very important call."


And then, something I couldn't quite make out.
     Was it, "Ok."?
     Or, "I'm sorry."?

I still don't know exactly what she said, but there was something in her voice that brought me back. More correctly, it brought me into the conversation for the first time. In truth, I was never actually in the conversation until that deafening silence. I had never connected with her. Hers was just a disembodied voice. Nothing she said registered with me from the moment I realized it wasn't "my" call. The one I'd been anxiously expecting.

Unfiltered Truth
This is what we do to people when we are unkind. Worse yet, lacking connection, we don't care!

In a flash, I felt ashamed. Ashamed for how I'd addressed, or didn't address, the human being on the other end of this phone call. Empathy swept through me. I'm still not sure if it was her tone of voice, her words, a combination of both, or something more profound. But I had been delivered a huge dose of regret about how she might feel as a result of my thoughtless interruption and dismissal. I desperately wanted to make amends, and the ensuing silence gave me a moment of panic. Would I get the chance? Had she already hung up?

"Hello? Are you still there?" I asked.
"Yes, I'm here," she replied in a soft, kind voice.
"Oh, I'm so glad. I am so sorry for my careless response. I want you to know that I really am waiting for an important call about a very stressful issue that's put me on edge. I apologize for how I treated you. I don't want you feeling badly because of my bad behavior. You're obviously working for a very good cause. I'm sorry."
She was so gracious and appreciative, pausing for a moment before replying, "Oh, thank you so much. That was so thoughtful."

I left that conversation a month ago with kind closure, but I've been curious and pondering it ever since. Having just facilitated a corporate retreat, I now know why this life lesson came to me when it did. Without human connection, conversation is as likely to result in conflict as it is cooperation, and perhaps more so.

The retreat was filled with sharing. I was engaged for my ability to facilitate the co-creation of a safe space where truth can gently emerge. It was a very organic process where I led from the center and brought the group along with me through my own willingness to be vulnerable. By the end, these beautiful humans were just that. Beautifully connected humans. Titles and roles gave way to bare humanity as they shared what was causing them pain. As it always does, it emerged along a spectrum obeying a counterintuitive truth - the strongest among them shared from the most vulnerable places, allowing their naked truth to be seen.

As the retreat unfolded, it became clear that central to this suffering was the very behavior I exhibited toward the woman on the phone - thoughtlessness fostered by disconnection. In short, a lack of nurture and care for relationships between operating groups spanning large geographic regions. Within these groups, relationships seem generally good. Between groups, not so much. Relationships, genuine connections, are in short supply. Conversation is mostly reduced to disembodied emails. Phone conversations are rare. And face-to-face is nearly non-existent. Truth telling feels risky and remains buried. And it gets worse.

In the same way that my stress produced an incident of thoughtless, rude behavior on my solitary call, ongoing stress in long term circumstances can produce patterns of consistently bad behavior that destroy relationships, or prevent them from ever being forged. Disconnection perpetuates feelings of isolation driven by self-preservation and fear. In a word, survival.

As dire as this sounds, and often is, the cure is as simple as it is messy. Truth telling sprouts from the seeds of trust. And trust is germinated by connection. If you plant and nurture seeds of trust with real human connection, you have a chance for sprouting truth. A chance to discover what is actually standing between you and your goals. Between the existing and hoped-for condition of your organization and its mission. Give people a chance to be real and genuine and to truly connect with one another. Give them a safe space and permission to be vulnerable, and they will begin to respectfully speak their truth. Uncovering this truth is as life-changing for an organization as it is for an individual. And connection is the key. Connection is the cure.

Born of Stars

Salem, Oregon, August 21, 2017
Thank you, Ganesh!

The first total eclipse across the U.S. in 38 years, millions traveled to witness the totality on August 21st. Many were caught off guard, unprepared for its emotional impact. The Sun, Moon, Earth and Sky, so ordinary and familiar, authored and delivered a profound message that unexpectedly pierced hearts.

Our daughter and her husband flew from San Francisco to Portland to meet friends and drive to a farm in Salem, Oregon for the event. Like many others, indescribable feelings emerged as the mid-day twilight approached and night fell. "Dad, I was teary-eyed. I didn't expect that. The stars came out, the animals got quiet, and crickets and bullfrogs woke up and began to sing." It was an orchestration at a cosmic scale across 93 million miles.

It's easy to forget how truly amazing life is. And by "life," I mean the totality of all that is; our place in it; how we came to be part of it; and how we move through it. From our birth to our passing, it's easy to take the most miraculous things and aspects of our life for granted as they become familiar. This is true not only of our natural environment, but for the people in our lives as well. This incredible eclipse served as a reminder that our sun and moon don't simply hang in the sky. They are in a dance perfectly choreographed to support Earth, teeming with life. And so it is with our lives. The steps are perfect, even when it doesn't feel like it.

This truth isn't ours alone. It extends throughout the Universe. The images the Hubble telescope has gathered over the past two and a half decades paints this perspective on the canvas of the night sky. This inky black void with pinpricks of light, so familiar and apparently static, is anything but. The Hubble images indisputably show how we perceive so little of what surrounds us. What we are truly part of. What, if only we could grasp it, would put all of our fears to rest and allow us to live fearlessly and love unconditionally in the knowledge of our true essence. I have drawn so much inspiration from these awe-inspiring images over the years that I decided to produce the following video. My wish is that you, too, will draw some inspiration from this brief journey into deep space.

This is my original composition (video and music) for Fullscreen viewing with headphones is recommended. The awe-inspiring Hubble telescope images are courtesy of

My message has been evolving since BeYourselfBlog's launch nearly two years ago, but its essence remains the same. We are, all of us, magnificent beings that are part of an immense and beautiful tapestry of life. We arrive here from infinite, unconditional love, and we return to infinite, unconditional love. In-between, we are meant to live our lives to the fullest. To express who we are in all we do, living our truth and being ourselves. Trading fear for curiosity and gratitude is key to living fearlessly and embarking on the adventure to be who we were born to be. This is the purest form of love we can express to ourselves. It is the highest regard we can have for the gift that is our life. For in the end, we are indestructible. Every single atom in your body was once an atom in a star, and each and every one will eventually return to one. It's the way of it. We are born of stars. And we will return to stars.