During a casual banter with a group of friends and their families during one of the many weekend “get-togethers” in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, I was asked, “What is that personal trait of mine that I thought stood out”. I did not have to think too long, “It is about my ability of being connected to all my friends and loved ones”, I replied. For once my wife agreed with me!!
I had actually said it, without thinking much. However, that statement kept lingering in my mind for the next couple of days. I started thinking more deeply on this.
Yes, it is true! Many of my relationships and the years that had passed began to rush to my mind like a torrent.
I have been able to stay connected with my friend, who was my bench-mate in 1975, while I was in Class V. He had moved away from the town that I lived, but we continue to remain in touch. While we enjoyed each other’s company and learnt from each other during the formative years, we had nothing much in common. It is only that human connection and the common thread in the form of a desire to stay connected, that has kept us together.
Remember those were the years before the advent of the email or internet; we used write to each other almost every week and savor the replies to each letter. I had even treasured the letters I received for several years.
When I visited him at his home after more than two decades, his mother told me, “Suresh, I tell Karun that he has had many friends over the years. But you are the truest!!” I felt so proud! But what did I do to deserve that praise? I was not around to support him during the worst times of his life; I was not around to celebrate his success either. But I was just there…in touch with him and sharing his joys and sorrows through letters or phone calls! I was just connected!
When I dwelt on this for longer and delved deeper into this facet of my life, I realize that I have benefitted immensely by just being connected!!
I have always had a battery of friends and well-wishers to support me when I needed, admonish me when I take the wrong step, guide me through difficult situations and advise me on the right path forward!
When I arrived in Jubail, KSA, after a long stay (all my life of 34 years, in Visakhapatnam that small little port city in Andhra Pradesh, never lived away from home, never lived away from loved ones, I thought, the going would be tough.
But again, this habit of staying connected and remaining connected came to my rescue. During that transitional phase, where I was yet to connect with people in Jubail, my connections with my friends and relatives in India and other places became my “emotional crutch”. Soon, I found myself connected but deeply rooted with many, again in this small port city, called Jubail!!
My experience in professional life as a Leader in the organization has also shown me that Leadership too has so much to do with relationships. I realize that a true leader builds strong social networks, a batch of trusted teammates and customers that will help them all to get to where they are going, while he in turn reciprocates.
So, it always pays!! We should find ways to connect. With people you work with. With the loved ones you live with. And with the strangers with whom you share this journey called life!!
It finally boils down to “ABC" - About Being Connected!!