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Being Connected – Real-life Applications of a Concept

How do you apply the concept of Being Connected? In my guest post of January 13, 2015 I explored the concept of Being Connected. Today, I will focus on the differences, relationships, and demarcations between meaning, identity and the process of giving meaning to something. In doing so, I will answer the following questions:

  • In what kinds of situations will my knowledge of the concept of being connected be helpful?
  • How do I apply it?
  • What can be achieved with it?

The best thing to do in order to answer these questions is to differenciate between the different connecting states.

1 – Connected

Two people take stroll, hand in hand. Verbal communication is virtually unnecessary in order to change directions, to cross the streets or to stop in front of a window. They act as a unit, just by exchanging signals mostly invisible to others, and through short comments and looks. In this state of connectedness they are absolutely aware of each other, and they are completely tolerant of the other’s impulses to act. They share their path which they walk conjointly. They see it as a common path that would not be as rich and fulfilling without the other. They want to walk this path together. They want to take care of each other. They want to keep track of their concordant goals. They respect each others individual needs and whishes which they encounter as part of their route. They gladly take over a part of the path for the other. If they meet in order to get ahead they are both prepared. Both know where they want to go, what is possible to achieve. Both have alternatives, a plan B. They are considerate of each other. They find their goals quickly. The most important thing is to savor their time together. Being connected means that cooperation produces energy, is an enjoyment and saves safeguards their livelihood.

2 – Not Connected

People walk, side by side. Sometimes they talk. They indicate should they want to change directions. They are aware of each other in order to be able to keep the distance. They avoid collisions. Impulses of acting are verified and checked, and tolerated should they be in accordance with the own impulses of the respective person. Compromises are acceptable as long as benefits are created. In case they meet to share a part of their path, the way already travelled by the other is verified and checked. All that has happened since is pondered with regards to their own goals. Walking alongside each other is fun and entertaining, but it is no loss to be separated. Both know why they decided to share their path. If these conditions do not remain to be true they part ways. Not being connected means that cooperation can produce energy, can be an enjoyment and may safeguard their livelihood.

3 – Disconnected

Encounters are avoided actively. If a meeting does occur, actions are aimed against each other. The other person is lured into traps and one-way streets. Competition is a means to let the other come off badly. Others are bested. Compromises are nearly impossible. Mistakes of others are exploited. If disconnected people, for some reason or another, have to walk together, they impede and obstruct the other’s way as effective as possible. Thougts revolve around the possibilities of doing harm to each other. Being together is tiring and wearing. Being separated is a relief. Both know why they avoid each other. If an encounter cannot be avoided help of others (mediators, lawyers, judges) is needed to clear things up. Being disconnected means working together consumes energy, depresses and ruins the existence.

We all test each and every situation in our lives whether we are connected. In a functioning, beneficial and pleasant social relationship we switch between states between 1 or 2 at times. One moment we are deeply connected, the other we just walking side-by-side, until the next meaningful interaction creating energy. In a sick, faulty relationship we reach state 3. Energy-producing interaction? No such luck ! The concept of meaning is too complex for us to understand, or to retrace why we connect, why we do not connect or why we disconnect. More important than understanding it is to simply be aware of it and derive consequences from it.

I meet a lot of people that are not connected or disconnected. In their relationships, mostly in their respective working environments, they consume a lot of energy and still never get anywhere. They live on borrowed time. At first, the individual losses are too small to recognize.

Deriving consequences from one’s own connecting state is easier than most people think. Alternatives include altering the relationships to colleagues instead of quitting a job. Being connected has a lot to do with working together and the specific conditions of the work field. Thus, it may be helpful to apply for a different position inside the company. Also, switching the working area may be a solution.

These are examples of first steps to working with a connected mindset. A more radical approach would be to reduce working hours to 80% in order to pursue more fulfulling projects in the other 20%, as a reader of my book did. Six months later he was self-employed and connected. Today, two years later, he still is happy about his decision!

The next step is to recognize the connecting state of the other. Recognizing is relatively easy, what is hard is:

  • Respecting and tolerating the connecting state of colleagues and
  • deriving consequences from it and verbalizing one’s own perception.

What is needed is:

  • an atmosphere of constructive debate, enabling a company to deal with the consequences of disconnection
  • an avowal to solidarity and support for people that are disconnecting, because they lose their social and emotional footing within the company
  • constructive and lossless ways to go separate ways if disconnecting cannot be stopped
  • a permanent striving for attentiveness for opportunities to turn disconnected people into connected people
  • critical reflection and a reality self-check as soon as a colleague disconnects. This way, disconnecting becomes a resource for all

Being aware of connecting states and turning this knowledge into action improves the chances of personal fulfilment significanty. Through my book, my blog and my talks I get to know a lot of people doing small steps at first, then bigger ones on their individual way to being connected. The only thing I can remember are success stories;)!

Just watch your colleagues and their use of smartphones. If attention is turning to the small display a state of disconnection has set in…


This topic is explored more extensively in my book »Affenmärchen – Arbeit frei von Lack & Leder«. You can buy it or read it online at www.affenmä I would be happy if you share your thoughts and experiences here in this blog.

Recommended reading on the concept of being connected (mostly German):

Bernd Geropp – Ist die Katze aus dem Haus … so arbeiten Ihre Mitarbeiter eigenverantwortlich und selbständig (2013) – redline Verlag
Thomas Höge, Tatjana Schnell – Wirtschaftspsychologie 14. Jahrgang 2012 Heft 1 91 – 99 – Kein Arbeitsengagement ohne Sinnerfüllung
Niels Pfläging – Die 12 neuen Gesetze der Führung: Der Kodex: Warum Management verzichtbar ist – Campus
Schaufeil, W. B. Saalnova, M., González-Romá V. & Bakker, A. B. (2002). – The measurment of engagement and burnout: a two sample confirmatory factor Analytik apporach. Journal of Happiges Studies, 3, 71-92
Dr. Andreas Zeuch – Feel it! So viel Intuition verträgt ihr Unternehmen (2011) – Wiley
More links, with a heavy focus on the concept:
Grundlagen der Betriebswirtschaft mit Menschen: Sinnkopplung
Die Verwirrung mit der Sinnstiftung

Gebhard Borck was born in 1971 and has been an entrepreneur for over 15 years, contributing to development as well as change and OE projects as a coordinator, manager and consultant. He has worked in England, Spain, Italy, USA, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. His clients value his work as a knowledge worker, irrespective of the label assigned to him, be it consultant, coach, facilitator, mentor, moderator, organization developer, project manager, speaker, sparring partner or trainer. His book "Affenmärchen – Arbeit frei von Lack & Leder" explores as well as questions common business economics theories and practices. In this book he develops his own theory based on a meaningful connection between people and labour. His speeches are provocative and entertaining, and showcases of his vast hands-on experience.

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