People typically say that an organization’s greatest asset is its people. I disagree.
Your organization’s greatest asset is not your people. It’s the relationships between your people.
Like a group of jellyfish with a chaotic tumble of tentacles everywhere, humans are deeply entwined and connected.
I remember the first time I realized that everything in the world comes down to relationships. I was a freshman in college. Heading through the lobby of my dorm, I overheard two of my dorm mates returning from class and talking about boys.
I chuckled to myself, thinking that here we were at this higher institution of learning, and what was foremost on our minds was what this or that person said or did, and whether they liked us. (And I’m not judging; I spent many a conversation talking about boys — it’s all part of the experience, right?!)
While I found it an amusing social observation at the time, that insight would stay with me forever.
In the 20+ years since, I’ve seen the same thing over and over. Not the dating scene specifically, but the importance of relationships in endeavors of any kind.
I’ve heard stories of technology that never came to pass because the two lead scientists didn’t get along. I’ve seen personality conflicts slow down collaborative efforts. I’ve seen the time, energy, and potential wasted by office politics.
I’ve also seen high-trust, deeply connected teams produce amazing results. I’ve seen how far genuinely taking a personal interest in the people on your team will take you as a leader. I’ve seen the power of shifting how we communicate. I’ve learned that healthy interpersonal relationships are the glue that holds projects together.
It’s not just about individual people. Team dynamics matter. Skilled communication matters. A group of superstars won’t necessarily make the best team. Early 20th century Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne said, “As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven.”
Connection is at the heart of everything we do. It really does make the world go round.
Connection even makes things go around the world…
In my time as a scientist and engineer, I learned that even rockets and satellites don’t get off the ground without relationships. From the overarching vision, to the teams creating the initial requirements and specifications, to the teams designing and building the parts, to the teams assembling and integrating those parts, to the launch teams and beyond, many thousands of conversations take place. Those conversations impact the quality of the end product and the success of the mission.
It’s not just with satellites. Take any industry, any family, any community, and you’ll see that the quality of the relationships of those involved directly influences the quality of the results.
The willingness to create nurturing, sustainable relationships is a key starting point. Don’t panic if it feels like that doesn’t come naturally to you. While the capacity for true connection is innate in all of us, our life experiences and conditioning have often taught us to focus on competition rather than collaboration. We forget that in the bigger picture we're all on the same team — humanity, earth, and cosmos. But we have the power to choose something different.
Remembering your innate capacity for connection starts with creating a nurturing, sustainable connection with yourself.
How willing are you to create a strong, powerful, loving relationship with yourself? From that grounded and secure place, you may be surprised how much more willing you are to build strong, powerful, and yes — loving — relationships with others in every area of your life.
You won’t be best buds with everyone. That’s ok. This is not about people pleasing or giving away your power. This is about reclaiming your power.
We all have different purposes, different roles, and different people we resonate with and who resonate with us. And, you can learn to accept and respect the common humanity shared by every single person on this planet.
Remember those serenely chaotic jellyfish? What if we could all bring that kind of calm and resilience to our everyday lives, even in the face of struggle? If we bring that into ourselves, we can radiate it out into the world and feed stronger and healthier connections with others — because we are all as interconnected as the jellyfish.
I know I’m here in this world to build grounded leaders, connected humans, and powerful teams that change the world.
What does that mean to me?
You don’t have to be in an officially recognized “leadership position” to be a leader. We’re all leaders. Every day we have opportunities to respond instead of react, to take personal responsibility for our thoughts and feelings, and to lead ourselves into aligned and powerful choices for our lives. When we’re grounded in who we are and why we’re here, and when we trust that the universe has our backs, we’re connected to infinite sources of inspiration and creativity that expand what’s possible in the world.