Connection, Attention and Trust

May 15, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m just coming out of a mind bending, heart expanding retreat with Orland Bishop, Rachel Bagby and the Barr Fellows Network.  It was one of those experiences that is hard to put into words.  For lack of a better word, and I hope Orland doesn’t mind this, it was more like being with a shaman than with a facilitator.

Orland led us in an exploration of intention and attention as he invited us to question how we relate to reality itself.  He led with the idea that our relationships – and therefore our human experience – can be radically redefined if we make it our purpose to truly understand the other; and to do it with radical acceptance.

We also entered into a fascinating conversation about money, and the way the whole game depends on a perception of scarcity.  This part of the conversation reminded me of one of the best episodes of This American Life, The Invention of Money – take the time to listen to it!  But it also brought to mind this most relevant quote from a recent post by Seth Godin:

The scarce resources in the connection revolution are connection, attention and trust, not molecules, atoms or strawberries.

Everything is changing and very few people understand what all these changes will mean.  At least here in the Global North, we have been saturated with “stuff,” and more and more of us are coming to understand (or at least experience) that there is no happiness there.

In a world increasingly defined by the internet, what we lack is authentic connection.  In a world of one thousand facebook friends, what we lack is real trust.  In a world of e-mail and pop ads, flashing billboards, guerrilla marketing and product placement – the hardest thing to have is each other’s attention.

Connection, attention and trust – the virtues of relationship are in scarce supply in a world of stuff.  It is in this context that I become most hopeful.  For this is precisely what we are cultivating among the Barr Fellows.  Passionate, effective and purposeful leaders are ever more willing to transcend their organizational constraints and do the not always easy work of connecting with one another, giving attention to the whole they are cultivating and actively nurturing a field that is defined by trust.


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