Networking gets a bad rap because so many people don’t really have a higher purpose when they are doing it.
The traditional exchange of business cards and elevator pitches ends up being a false trading of superficial data where both people are trying to get something out of the interaction.
Real networking and real contribution occurs when we choose to be a net giver, not a net taker. Whether you are drumming up business or looking for a job, the most effective, successful, long-term winners in the networking game are those who contribute to the people they touch and reach.
Next time you are at a networking event, or riding on the train, or at an event – rather than waiting your turn for your pitch, ask the other person about themselves. Be genuinely curious. Discover how you can be a point of contribution for them. If you contribute strongly, there will always be room for them to ask about you as well.
Want to learn more about networking and other tools for developing relationships? Join us for our monthly networking workshops and practice your networking by giving to get. Learn more and sign up here!
There’s a lot of buzz these days about neuroscience and how it relates to learning and growth. You may have heard of “train your brain” apps, games and challenges designed to boost your social and emotional intelligence.
The idea is that by doing these brain exercises, your brain becomes “stronger” and thus, you become more satisfied and enriched overall. But does a stimulated brain really bring you more career satisfaction and happiness overall?
It’s no secret that social and emotional intelligence play an important role in transformational growth and living. As coaches, we see the way a positive, growth-focused mindset can enable a person to tackle life’s challenges. It can strengthen our relationships, drive us in our careers, and help us reach our leadership goals.
The best leaders are transformational leaders. They focus on growth and work toward a shared vision with their employees. They understand their employees from a social and emotional perspective. They display empathy and honesty, and they focus on a shared human connection. In short: they relate. They get it.
Transformational leaders also have high social emotional intelligence. They can work with and adapt to a variety of people and personality types at work. They don’t get bogged down in day-to-day drama and petty disagreements. They aren’t about their own egos and being right all the time. They are about fighting FOR a path that’s right for the company. They understand their own success is reflected in the success of their team and the group as a whole. They might not be the smartest person in the room, but they know how to bring out the best in those around them, so they have the smartest team.
These emotionally intelligent leaders also experience immense career satisfaction. It’s not because they make the most money or because they have the most power. (Although, they’re almost certainly the identifiable leaders in the office.) It’s because they’re continuously growing and learning new things. They seek new challenges and new experiences. They never stay static.
So how do we get there…?
Complacency Results in Dissatisfaction
As human beings, it’s very easy for us to become complacent and comfortable in our jobs, in our relationships, and in our lives in general. We engage in soft addictions: social media, “zoning out” in front of the television, going out and drinking, or spending money on things that bring us a quick, temporary high but then leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled. We look for fleeting entertainment and cheep satisfaction.
We’re comfortable, but we aren’t stimulated or engaged.
Even those of us in great roles in our jobs can find ourselves wondering, “Is that all there is?” We might get a high when we’re facing a deadline, pushing ourselves to set up a new sales system, or leading a meeting, but most of the time, after a few years of working the same job (even doing the things we do well), we feel like we’re simply phoning it in.
Think of it like training for a marathon. When you’re actively training for a marathon or race, you have to push yourself a little more each day. It’s exciting! You’re striving for your goals and you see results. You have to build new muscles, increase your stamina, and work hard on your speed and distance.
Conversely, if you simply go out your front door, lace up and run the same route every day, eventually you’ll hit a training plateau. You won’t stretch and grow those muscles and keep your body training. When it comes time to run your marathon, you’ll be slow and undertrained. You won’t reach your full potential.
How do we break out of these patterns and habits to achieve career satisfaction—and satisfaction in our lives as a whole?
The Lesson: We must challenge ourselves to grow!
Neuroplasticity: Behind the Scenes of Personal Growth & Satisfaction
The concept of neuroplasticity is one of the most widely accepted theories on social and emotional intelligence, learning and growth. Our brains, just like our bodies, must be continuously stimulated in different and new ways. We have to constantly grow and learn to form new neuropathways and keep our brain functioning at peak condition.
In a comparative study of London cabdrivers vs. London bus drivers, the cab drivers were found to have greater grey matter in the hippocampus of their brain. Why? Because they were constantly learning new routes and responding to new stimuli. Bus drivers, on the other hand, were routinely going through the same experience and thus, showed less activity.
Similarly, when Dr. Itzhak Fried at the University of California, LA replayed a video clip for patients, their neural networks showed the same activity as when they first viewed the clip. Patients also began firing the same neurons when showed associated clips, such as a person along with a landmark. As we form memories and repeat similar experiences, our brains use the same neural pathways. So, to form new neuropaths, we must discover and seek new experiences.
We are designed to transform. We have the amazing gift of neuroplasticity—the ability to build new neural circuitry, new selves and new lives. We can literally change our brains and our minds and what we believe, who we are, and how we live. We can transform.
Our brains are never “happier” than when we are learning new things, stretching, just beyond our current capacities. This is where we build new circuitry and develop mastery.
The real secret to staying engaged, stimulated, and emotionally and socially growing is to continuously seek new experiences. We must stretch ourselves and push ourselves outside our comfort zone. Sure, there are apps, games and other “brain training” you can do to work out your brain, but true growth comes from fully engaging and constantly challenging ourselves.
When you walk into a room, do you find ways to listen to everyone there? Do you try to understand their vision and relate? Are you pushing yourself to grow and work on shared benchmarks and milestones?
Find ways to up your social and emotional ante by rolling up your sleeves and jumping in. Embrace new experiences and push yourself beyond your boundaries.
Want to improve your sales? The Wright Sales Program is a hands-on, experiential program that provides sales professionals with an opportunity to boost their sales performance through the application of social and emotional intelligence to their selling techniques. [Learn more!]
Who doesn’t love vacation?! Whether exploring a new city or town, or hiking through an eco-adventure, it’s so exciting to add to our life experience, connect with different people and cultures, and open our eyes to new encounters.
Read this post if you find yourself wondering…
Is it too soon to travel together with my partner or significant other?
Am I ready to travel with my new boyfriend/girlfriend?
We’ve been together a while, should we “test” our relationship by seeing if we travel well together?
If you’re dating someone new or even if you’ve been in a relationship for a while, you may be wondering, “Is it too soon to travel together?” Either way, the question of travel is pretty inevitable. From a friend’s destination wedding to discount cruise tickets you just can’t pass up, the chance to travel will arise at some point—and sometimes sooner rather than later.
While you may love traveling alone or with friends, traveling with a significant other can be a whole different experience. You may be wondering, “Is there a certain point we should reach in our relationship before we’re ‘ready’ to travel together?” Or even, “Is there a timeframe when we should plan to travel, just to see if we travel well together?”
In reality, just like there’s no such thing as “the one” or “rules” in dating, there’s no hard and fast rule about when you should travel together. Some dates lead to travel plans that very first weekend. Other couples might not have the desire or opportunity for vacation until months or even years into their relationship. It’s about knowing what you’re comfortable with and understanding a few things about the vacation mindset.
Sharing an Escape from Reality
Vacations are new experiences, where our regular habits and routine don’t apply. While this is an awesome time for learning, growth, and exploration together, it can also give us a false sense of how our relationship is “back in the real world.” Let’s just say it can sometimes be hard to see clearly through vacation euphoria or vacation stress.
When vacation euphoria takes hold, everything seems almost magical. We’re suddenly without the stress of everyday life with all its complicated conflicts and emotions, and we’re no longer confined by our routine and restrictions. Instead, we’re experiencing each moment anew.
This vacation high is very exciting and different, but it can also be a challenge to explore your true feelings about each other when you’re in this adventurous state. On vacation, we might connect in ways that don’t completely apply “back in the real world” where we have bills to pay, work to deal with, and a myriad of other things on our plates.
Into the Unknown Together: When It Gets Real
On the flip side, think back to your last long car trip or extended layover at an airport. Chances are, it wasn’t your favorite memory. Traveling together can be stressful—you’re navigating in a new place, deprived of sleep and jet-lagged, and charting unfamiliar territory. After three or four hours in a car, everything can seem amplified, and even your favorite person in the world can grate on your nerves. Stress may cause us to revert back to considering if it is, in fact, too soon to travel together, while you’re already well on your way!
It’s hard not to be upset when someone forgets the map or tickets, or you find out your flight’s been delayed and you’re going to miss a connection. No one reacts well in these situations, so don’t view these as make-or-break “red flag” moments. Give your relationship a little space from this stress before passing any major sweeping judgments.
Vacation provides an extended period of time together where you can pick up on interactions you might not get to see during “normal” dates. Certain personality traits and interactions can be amplified. It’s also a great time to explore your own reactions and feelings to different things that occur in the vacation environment. For example, you may be surprised at the thoughtfulness or kindness you notice in your date when he or she interacts with new people (or you may be dismayed when the opposite happens).
At the same time, in this “artificial reality,” you might notice certain interactions and traits in your partner and wonder why you’ve never seen them act that way in your day-to-day life together. It’s good to make note of those things as well. You might find the person you’re with becomes very different when they’re away from home.
Exploring, Dreaming & Doing—Together!
Vacation can also create time for that dreamy space where you can imagine your future together. Vacation can help you understand how compatible the two of you are in terms of embracing new experiences. Instead of wondering if it’s too soon to travel together, talk to your partner and ask how they imagine their ideal vacation.
If one of you likes a laidback country trip with lots of nature and outdoor time, while the other prefers a busy city trip with food, culture, and museums, it might not be a deal-breaker, but it can mean you’ll have to find other people and different ways to fulfill those travel preferences. Maybe you’ll plan an occasional “culture weekend” with a friend instead of your significant other, or go surfing with your buddies instead of your girlfriend. Maybe you need to take a trip home, but sometimes it might be best to go alone and spend time individually with your family.
Even on vacation, it’s ok to plan some alone time for yourself, if you or your date prefer an occasional break. It’s important to be cognizant of the fact that everyone needs a little downtime, even if you’re head-over-heels for each other. You may have to establish some boundaries and be sensitive to each other’s yearnings and needs, as vacation often means a concentrated amount of interaction with each other. Listen to the cues your partner is putting out and don’t hold back to establish your own needs and boundaries.
No matter what happens, vacation is a really great time to engage, embrace conflict and really get to know each other. You might not get along perfectly, but it can be a great time to explore and understand your boundaries and how you interact in a different environment. Use this as another opportunity to unlock who you are and what you want out of your interactions and life experiences.
Let us know how your dating is going! Tune in to our podcast every Wednesday to talk about dating, relationships, and how to bring out your best self. To continue the conversation on engaging with others and to discover ways to bring out your best self, click here to learn more about our next More Life Training.
Rachel Zwell is one of the core coaches in the Year of Transformation program. She is an emergence coach specializing in empowering individuals to increase their fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives, to achieve their professional and personal goals, and to develop their leadership skills. She coaches and mentors people to develop self-awareness, vision, strategies, and to build skills in social and emotional intelligence. She believes in full engagement and aliveness, and trains people to see and overcome the barriers that prevent them from living fully.