Connecting, collaborating, communicating. All great words - but they do require us to use another 'c' word - courage. They require us to be brave, to step up and drive change through our influential actions and conversations.
It still surprises me how many of us put networking in the box which has been labelled in permanent pen with the word "Fear'. Said box is then stuffed under our psyche's metaphorical bed and promptly forgotten about.
'Fear'. The well-known best friend and sparring partner of 'Procrastination'.
It has this incredible ability to stop us well and truly in our tracks. Fear eats away at our self-confidence, stopping us from stepping out of the status quo of the known in to the unknown.
Fear keeps us in a space of avoidance, in 'little i' territory, rather than big 'I had a dream' land. It results, over time, in under performance, in stagnation of self and dreams, and keeps us well and truly struggling to get up from the comfy status quo sofa.
Fear stops us from engaging with others, from seeking help and support, from sharing thoughts and ideas - and the thing is, this fear of engaging actually means we are inadvertently engaging with failure.
It's a bit like playing hide and seek with no mates, or going to a must attend party for One. There's no point in having a VIP guest list of 'self plus self', or being behind a red velvet rope, if you are there all alone - with a cocktail of 'humph' in hand. The isolationist approach of not connecting, or refusing to share with others, is a long, lonely and often unlucky road.
Many people think entrepreneurs operate alone, overcoming challenges and bringing their ideas to market out of sheer force of personality.
This is completely inaccurate. Steve Jobs, perceived by many as a loner, is said to have shared with his biographer Walter Isaacson:
Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they are doing, you say WOW and soon you're cooking up all sorts of ideas.
Engage for success. Lead out. Embrace diversity and align yourself with others. Collaborate for mutual success and growth.
Engage with fellow leaders and those who are willing to shape policy and procedures.
Those who are giving 100% to drive business forward in an ethical and productive way.
Above all engage with yourself. Take responsibility, kick fear in to touch and believe anything is possible. Stand in your own unique spotlight. Use your voice, and be OK with being different. Challenge yourself, because it is through this that change happens.
Engage with you because you are unique and brilliant. Engage with others, be brave enough to be yourself and to go where things are strange and at times unknown.
Engaging, connecting and collaborating are the keys to change, growth and success.
As Richard Branson said, "No-one can be successful alone" - so why try?
Announce it to the world.
'I am happy to let the planet know that as of today, I am engaged to collaborative thinking - and success'.
You never know, there may even be a gift registry in there somewhere.