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Usually, I write posts here and share to Facebook. Today’s post started as sharing a Facebook status, became a Facebook note and migrated over here. One of the things I enjoy about Facebook and twitter is the opportunity to learn the story behind the person even those friends whom I don’t have a lot of opportunity to spend time with.

When I teach networking or coach clients on becoming connected and connectors, I am often asked “how much should I share with people, online or offline?” What you share is completely up to you, but I challenge you to share of your SELF, not only your professional story, but your personal story. What makes you the unique human being that you are? How will I know YOU if I don’t know your story? And how will I decide if I like you and trust you enough to do business with you or refer business to you if I don’t feel like I really know you?

We are in a business culture still crawling out of the “old-boy’s network” mentality of school ties and common opinions. But we are moving toward a culture of shared visions and common values. We once sought out communities of “like-minded” people. Now I see more communities of “like-spirited” people. You might learn how someone thinks without knowing their story, but will you know how they feel?

I find that whether I am focused on inviting peace into my life or my world, or focused on inviting wealth into my life or my world - connecting with other people is the key. And those connections are most easily and enduringly created through shared story.

Here is the original post - comments welcome as always.

This remarkable observation was shared by a friend of Laura Kessler who then posted it to her Facebook wall:

“This is America, where a white Catholic male Republican judge was murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20 year-old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon, all eulogized by our African- American President.”… via Rabbi Wolpe

It seems to me that this is another demonstration of the power of personal story in creating connections and the power of connections in bringing peace.

I have long believed that being connected to our world and the other people in it is the way we connect to our highest, best, brightest and biggest selves. As I said in an interview with Dafna Michelson during her unbelievable project, The 50 in 52 Journey, it is harder to wage war against someone to whom we feel connected. I cannot hurt those I feel connected to without also hurting myself. And the more I know about someone’s story the more likely I am to find the commonalities, the shared humanness, the connection.

As one of my friends, wordsmith and thought provocateur, Katrina Plumb shared with me, “The frog in the well has never seen the world.” (That is a loose translation from the Japanese and she says that the original may well have been “has never seen the ocean” but you get the meaning.) We can hide in our wells and spout our opinions and biases, but we won’t have a view of the world. We can choose our friends from those with whom we have the most obvious and superficial commonalities, but our world will become narrow and superficial.

Without that view of the world and the sense of being connected to it, it is easy to say “those people” and then hang all our insecurities, fears, grief and blame on that group. But when we open ourselves to sharing their individual experiences, dreams and disappointments they become first a person and second a person of another race, religion, political party, or other “subset” of humanity. We no longer identify the person as “white female” or “gay Catholic” or “Republican Veteran”  but as an individual of value.

Another dear friend, James Stafford, shared something one of his spiritual leaders said to him, “An enemy is just someone whose story you don’t know.”

I’ve heard people comment that technology is making the world “smaller” but really, it makes it possible for me to connect to more of the world and when I do it makes my world bigger. Whether or not it makes it better is up to me. It is up to me how I interpret my story - do I tell it with love or with hate, with acceptance and tolerance or with vengeance and resentment? It is up to me to connect to the stories of others and to listen long enough to find the ties that bind us together as human beings.

To change your world, change your story. To create a world of love and acceptance, abundance and joy, share stories of love and acceptance, abundance and joy. Because if you tell a story of hate and vengeance, violence and retribution to the world then that is what your world will become.

To find a friend, hear their story. To be a friend share yours. If you share enough you will find the connections that make up the foundation of friendship. If you reject their story based on obvious differences your life will be lacking a friend and the world will be one connection further from being united.

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