Ep 124: Along the Spectrum: Connection
Building connection is one of the foundations of leadership. After all, leaders need to connect to their people in order to work well. In this episode, Adam Quiney continues the Along the Spectrum series to talk about the quality of connection and the vulnerability that manifests in various ways. Adam gives a different take on extroversion and introversion as you’ve never thought of before and then shares how leaders can lead and navigate effectively through people of connection. Don’t miss out on the important information ahead. Tune in and develop your leadership at a foundational level in this discussion!
Listen to podcast here:
Along the Spectrum: Connection
Here we are having conversations with the intention of causing leadership in the world. That means that we don’t want to just give you more information about leadership, we want to have you go and be a leader at this moment. That’s where leadership exists. Leadership never exists in the future. It never exists in that thing you’re going to do at some point, sometime. It’s always right now in the moment. One of my teachers once described, “The edge only ever exists at the moment,” and this is true for leadership. Leadership is out on our edge. Our intention in these conversations is that they are a call forward for you to step into your leadership. That being said, in the next episodes, we’re going to be talking about these qualities of being. This is part of our series, Along the Spectrum.
Connection Along The Spectrum
In this episode, we’ll be talking about connection. I’ve talked all about causing leadership. Our conversation is going to be a little bit more about seeing qualities of being in people. This is the foundation for being able to develop someone’s leadership at the deepest level. Most of the time when we’re working to develop our own leadership or that of other people, we’re working at the level of behavior or personality. Behavioral approaches would be, how do we change the behavior that’s showing up? How do we change the way someone is doing something or the way they’re showing up in a meeting or a friend always talks over people in the meeting, how do we change that behavior? When we look at someone from an ontological lens, which is what we’re doing now, and indeed in all of our conversations here on the show, we’re looking underneath what they’re doing to a more foundational place as our start.
The way we look at that is, “What would have this person showing up this way and who is this person underneath the way that they’re showing up?” If we start to do that, then we can start to create real transformation and shifts in the way they show up in the world as a leader, as opposed to it adjusting or addressing problematic behavior. It’s a little bit like if you notice that there’s a wound on your finger and you’re like, “The wound hurts when I get lemon juice in it so I’m going to put a Band-Aid on it,” which will work in the short-term unless the underlying issue is that wound is showing up because you have flesh-eating bacteria. You’re going to need to keep putting more and more Band-Aids on the wounds that keep showing up or decide you’re never going to cook with lemon juice ever again. Those are your only two options.
We’re working at getting underneath here. This is why most leadership falls down, why it fails to create much of an impact beyond changing things on the surface. This is why I stress that ontological perspective that getting to the foundation of who someone is before we begin to even look at what there might be to do. This is a bit of a reminder that the spectrums of being are effectively an ontological model that I’ve created over the decade of being trained, training others, leading and being led in the development of leadership. The best way to think of our essential nature, which is what these qualities are, I like the metaphor used by a man named Tim Kelley, who wrote a book called True Purpose. He described our essential nature as being like a beautiful light bulb that each of us is born with floating behind the back of our head.
Everyone’s light bulb shines its own beautiful colored light. When they enter the room, we get to see more of that color. When they leave the room, we noticed that we get a little bit less of that color. While we all get the benefit of seeing that when you enter and leave the room, you never do. You cannot see the shift in the room that happens when you enter and leave it because you carry that colored light with you everywhere you go. It’s been with you from the moment you were born to the moment you die. As a result, you never get an experience of your own light. You simply cannot distinguish it. It’s like trying to see the thing that you see the world through, like trying to see your own eyeballs or trying to bite your own teeth.
It inherently cannot work. What we can do is give you a bit of reflection here and help you start to see it. What I’m intending to showcase in that metaphor is why it’s challenging for us to see this ourselves and why the question, “What is your zone of genius?” is nonsensical. Our zone of genius are these qualities. Someone who brings the being of connection into the world with them, that is their zone of genius. We mistakenly often think, “My zone of genius must be collating papers or doing research,” but that’s at the surface. That’s a behavior. That’s a level of doing. Our zone of genius is a function of a way of being around whatever we are doing at the moment.
The Quality Of Connection
We’re going to talk about the quality of connection and I want to preface this by saying that the way the spectrums are set up is we distinguish a whole bunch, 25 in total, different qualities of being. You might hear or see yourself in the description of some of these qualities of being, but it doesn’t mean that you were only one. Humans are legion. We are a myriad of qualities. In the mileage of training, often we look to about five core components. It doesn’t mean you don’t have others, but that gives you a nice round perspective of yourself. Just because you’re like, “I resonate with the connection piece that you are talking about,” doesn’t mean that you may not also embody brilliance, which we’ll be talking about on the next episode.
If you’re like, “I don’t know which to choose.” You don’t have to. You can see yourself in multiple parts of these. What we’re intending to do is not give you a way to prescribe a particular way of being to someone, but access to relating to people in a broader, more profound, deeper way. Without further ado, let’s talk about this quality of connection. The connection is the quality of being connected with everything and everyone. Those who are in connection are natural connectors in a room. When they come into a room, that room feels more connected. Conversation tends to magically start to happen when these people come into a room.
People with this quality are curious about people around them and they love to dive in. Connection, as a quality, loves to explore connectivity at any depth. Although people with this quality may have learned to hang out in one or another particular level of depth. For example, many people often complain about the surface of small talk, or like, “I hate small talk. I don’t want to do it.” This is an indication that this person is more comfortable connecting at a level of depth, but it doesn’t mean that connection is not available or possible in the small talk. It simply means it’s unavailable for this particular person. People who are connection become especially tuned to a particular level of place that’s comfortable for them.
What I’m intending to point to here is that’s the range they’ve learned to be comfortable in. The quality of being of connection is available at whatever level of depth of intimacy you are engaged with someone at. Those who are connection have a natural capacity to get and be with people on a deep level. This level of connection and level of depth can be scary. It can feel incredibly intimate or intense or vulnerable. If you’re one of these people, you may not know what to do with it. You may have been talking to someone and felt you both drop into this level of depth. It may only have been a feeling in your stomach or something you noticed in their eyes. In these moments, we can get scared. We can get frightened and we can close from that connection that is innately ours. We feel this thing, we’re like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” We close somehow. We can close with our words and simply with our breathing. We can feel a constriction in our chest. Closure can happen in any number of ways.
The point is that energetically, however it’s manifested, when we get afraid of that depth, we close and this can leave the other person feeling hurt or confused, “Why did this person pull away from what was there at that moment? What’s going on? I felt a level of connection with this person I never felt and then they withdrew.” People who grow up as connection, people that grow as this quality can often find themselves getting in trouble with their teachers. Their innate ability and desire to connect with others means that focusing on whatever is being taught in a classroom can be tedious. It’s like, “Why are we focusing on boring, disconnected Math when I can talk to this person beside me?” The teacher can get frustrated with these people. “I put you anywhere. You’re always yakking away. Pay attention.” Rather than the teacher celebrates the connection that is there, work with that and find a way to cherish that, but also pull the students’ attention back to what they’re there to do at the moment instead, what comes across is shame or making them wrong for who they are innately.
This is one of the many ways in which we can start to develop a shadow, which we’ll talk more about. You can see even in that simple interaction that what is taught inadvertently by the teacher or by parents is that you are wrong for the way you are. The child doesn’t understand. All they know is, “What’s natural for me is to talk to this person and that’s apparently wrong. I better shut that down in these situations.” It can also be challenging around people of connection growing up. It can be challenging for the adults around them because the child may simply want to be in connection with the adult. The adult may be focused on something else, “Be a gone child. Let me do my work.” This is another example of how we can learn that connection in certain places is wrong.
Shadows Of Connection
Let’s talk about how the shadow of connection forms. If we think of our particular quality of being as being a certain type of light, that light will naturally cast certain shadows. As humans, we’re myriad. We have an infinite potential to develop, grow and come into the world. Yet our shadows align. They follow a set, not prescribed, not necessarily a certain way pattern, but there’s a predictability to the shadow that arises out of any particular quality of being. For connection, here’s how the shadow forms. First, connecting deeply is not free. When we truly connect with someone, they’re revealing all of themselves to us and we’re revealing all of ourselves to them. There’s a nakedness to that level of connection.
When we do this, people sometimes will hurt us. They may make fun of us for our vulnerability. They may pull away from us feeling suddenly shy or naked themselves. When people hurt us or pull away from us, we may make meaning out of that. We feel it on an energetic level and we may decide, “I was too much. I was too intense. I shouldn’t have asked those questions from genuine curiosity because it made that person pull away. I hate people pulling away from me because I want to connect with them.” Whatever it is, we can learn these lessons inadvertently. We learned they are connection. What’s innate for us is too deep, too intense, too dangerous, or unwanted or unsafe, “When I let people see me that much, I get hurt.”
This training can also be as simple as an adult telling us to leave them alone or a teacher telling us to stop talking. All of this is an indication to a young child that they need to turn down the connection that is innate to them. In this way, we learn what I call the under-expressed shadow of connection. We withdraw. We go inwards. We practice connecting more deeply within as opposed to without. We avoid connecting with people that look a certain way or in certain situations that are similar to that old original training. In situations where we’re in a classroom, we may learn never to connect with people there. We show up in a classroom very stoic, very quiet, very isolated. We love to connect, but in those situations, we don’t because that training taught us that.
On the surface, this looks like introversion. We find ourselves exhausted when we are around large groups of people because we are in active resistance to the connection that is most natural to ourselves, rather than be able to distinguish, “Here I am resisting what comes most naturally. That’s why I’m so exhausted and drained.” We relate to ourselves through the label of an introvert. We conclude that this is the way we are. Therefore, we’re not good at being around large groups of people. We need to learn to adapt to this by getting our needs met. This is the nail in the coffin of our shadow. We create our shadow in response to certain stimuli and stimuli come in the shape of circumstances, situations, places, people, whatever something external.
We forget that we created that reaction, that particular shadow, and then it becomes automatic because it’s safe. Every time we’re presented with that stimulus, we show up in that way. We get nice labels for it, like introverts or extroverts. Finally, we conclude, “I am this way and therefore, when I’m around large groups of people, I am drained.” The irony of this is that it’s not. Yes, you are drained around those people, but it’s because you’re an active resistance to what is innate for you. If you were able to fully open, to get over the fear that’s been placed within you, and simply allow yourself to connect in the way that is most innate for you, there wouldn’t be anything draining. Like there’s nothing draining about my dog, simply being a dog. If I tell my dog to be a cat and it tries to do that, that’s going to be draining for it because it’s not a natural shape energetically for it to hold.
Let’s talk about the other side of the shadow for connection. The other’s shadow comes in response to our fear of the experience of disconnection. No one likes that awkward feeling. When you feel disconnected and clumsy in your connection with someone, but to someone who is the quality of being that is connection, this experience is far more than uncomfortable. It’s experienced like existential pain. The reason for this is that the awkward uncomfortable feeling of being disconnected is like a negation of what this person is innately.
If you imagine, you are connection and then you’re with someone and you feel a severance of that, it’s like an upfront to the soul of who you are. This is experienced as though to be disconnected for someone who is connection is to be rendered null. It is the negation of their very self. Awkwardness and disconnection, which is a natural part of being a human can feel so heavy and weighty. It becomes very scary. This is part of when people are like, “I hate small talk.” This is often their shadow expressed. It’s that fear being expressed because small talk can feel awkward and a little disconnected at times. We’re learning how to be with each other in those moments. For someone who is connected, that is like, “I feel awkward. This is horrible. I can’t be with this feeling.”
In order to deal with this fear and this discomfort, the overcompensating shadow gets formed. How this looks is people become superficial and overly chatty. The focus becomes not on connecting in the face of whatever is showing up. Meaning, if what’s showing up is awkwardness, “How do I be a connection with this person?” Instead, the focus gets put on the doing of connection. The doing of connection looks like a conversation, chatting, being interesting and allows you to not have to feel the underlying experience of disconnection. It’s like a treadmill you’re running on. You don’t notice that you’re not moving forward. Over time, you run faster and faster to avoid noticing this truth. This tends to occur and show up like extreme extroversion. We’re chatty, entertaining, telling jokes and the life of the party, but underneath we’re exhausted and we’re constantly on.
There’s no time when we can take a breath because we can’t allow for that because that would be a lull on the conversation, which would have us and possibly the person across from us feel a little awkward. There’s no real room in this for people to simply be and the irony of the overcompensating shadow of connection is that while it looks on the surface like deep connection, it keeps connection out. There’s no room for it. Our shadows tend to move us to both poles. In each of these cases, you can see that underneath what is missing is the absence of what would be the scariest, real connection in those moments. When we isolate and then call ourselves an introvert, what we’re resisting is connecting with someone in however that connection looks in that moment.
When we’re showing up as that extreme extrovert on the other side of the pole, there we are, avoiding connection inadvertently. The irony is that we are trying hard to get the connection that we step over it. These are the nature of our shadows. I like the metaphor of being on a life raft. It’s like we’re on a life raft and we’re desperate for water. We’re getting thirstier and thirstier. We can feel our tongues’ heaviness and the rubbery quality of it in our mouth. We reached down and scooped up a handful of saltwater and we drink it. In the short term, we go, “It feels so good. I can feel my tongue lubricated a bit. I can feel it moving around. My lips have some ability to move. Finally, my esophagus, stuff went down it.” In the long-term, that keeps us further and further away from what we most needed.
This is how our shadows work. We are doing connection more and more. On some level, it seems like we’re getting what we need while in fact keeping it and moving it further and further away. This is the irony of the labels of extrovert and introvert, is that people who relate to themselves as an introvert and then structure their lives in accordance with that label, what they don’t realize is that who they are at their core is connection. Because of how they relate to that introversion thing as a fixed object and “That’s how I am,” they structure their lives in such a way that they forever keep what they are most craving out, which is connection.
Leading People Of Connection
How do you lead and work with people of connection? First, we need to recognize the shadows and recognize that both of them are costing the person something. On the surface, we may not see that. On the surface, most of the time we’re empowered by our shadows because that’s what we’ve had to do. We’re like, “I am connection and I like that I stay home on Saturday and paint miniatures. I’m content. I get my projects done. I do a ton of work, but on some level, it’s costing me the connection, the relationships, the intimacy that I crave. I may not be present to that craving. It’s below the level of my conscious thought because that’s how the shadow manages to keep going.”
We want to recognize that. We want to see the possibility that is available. If this person that we are trying to support got that who they are is connection and showed up that way rather than in their shadows. If you have a team member who is connection and you notice they’re yakking and filling more time and space with more and more talking, one of the ways we can support someone like that is to be like, “Can I stop us for a sec? Would you take a breath with me?”
You would only do this if you were supporting them and developing their leadership, and then you might reflect like, “I noticed you’ve been talking and talking and I feel less connected to you as you keep talking. Can we pause and sit as we take a couple of breaths?” Often, for the extroverted part of the shadow, we want to reflect that lovingly to them and invite them to keep stopping and ask them like, “What are you present to in this moment?” They’re going to be like, “Blah, blah, blah,” and you are like, “Can you stop? Can you use maybe a single word to describe it? You seemed very frantic and fast.” That’s one way we can start to work with us.
Part of what’s important for us as leaders are to cultivate a willingness to sit in the discomfort, awkwardness and disconnection. If you’re someone who says, “I don’t like small talk,” and you want to develop the leadership of someone who is connection, that’s your work. You’re going to have to learn to be with the awkwardness that is small talk. That is not yet being fully connected with someone, the awkwardness that is learning how to be with a new person and discovering them. Small talk is the equivalent of dogs tentatively smelling each other’s butts. With humans, the way we do it is with conversation. Small talks like our butt talking, “Here’s my smell.” If you have that reaction, “I hate small talk,” that’s an indication that your connection and that part of you is not fully expressed yet.
To be able to develop someone’s leadership who is connection, you’re developing in them the ability to be in the awkwardness of disconnection without trying to fix it. In order for you to support them to do that, you’ve got to be able to hold it. You have to start with that work yourself. Finally, be on the lookout for places where your team members are overly reliant on a particular aspect of shadow to excel in their positions. Our shadows aren’t bad. It’s simply that they become automatic. We tend to get into careers where our shadows help us thrive. We want to be cognizant of when we are operating from our shadow, not lobotomize our shadow, not like, “That part of me that can be glib and chatty is wrong.” It’s not.
We want to make sure that you’re cognizant of it and able to choose whether or not that serves the moment, as opposed to just allows you to not feel uncomfortable. Team members that are regularly relying on their shadows to get their job done will inevitably find themselves burnt out. I have a friend of mine who’s a coach. He’s quite popular. He’s very charming, funny, hilarious. He does speaking too. I was at an event with him. I noticed this a few times, but I noticed how fast he talked and part of who he is for the world truly is connection. When I was with him, I was present to how little spaciousness there was. I could see this because this used to be me. It still can be when I get afraid, that’s the nature of our shadows. They show up especially when we’re afraid.
We were at this event. He was emceeing it. I saw him later on in the night and said, “What’s going on? Do you want to talk?” I noticed he was on his phone, eating dinner. I was like, “Would you rather, I just leave you some chill time.” He’s like, “Yeah,” which is fine. Maybe he doesn’t like me. That’s also a possibility. What I was most present to is that this individual does not have the capacity to feel his cup filled up simply in connection with someone. There’s no room for him to have a chill time with someone, or at least unless there’s a certain way that someone looks. This is not a criticism of that person. It’s more an opportunity to see how the shadow can work and how it can lead to burnout. We turn it up, and then we’re exhausted or we turn it down, and then we end up isolated, depressed, feeling like a flatline in our life. Be on the lookout for these qualities.
That’s a bit of a long one now. I wanted to lay a lot of foundation. The next episode will be a bit shorter. We’re going to go over the quality of brilliance. As of the recording of this, the door is closed for the Creating Clients Course. I want to tell you a little bit about this course because it’s life-changing and of value to a lot of people. You can begin signing up for that now or reach out if you’d like a conversation about it. What I notice is that most people that are entrepreneurial recognized that there’s some aspect, some degree of their job that requires a willingness on their part to sell stuff. We feel we relate to sales as like this thing we have to do. The most empowered relationship to it is like, “I don’t love it, but I’m willing to do it because I love my job.”
Ideally, I wouldn’t have to do it. I’d hire somebody to do sales for me or I would push that off my plate. That’s the Holy Grail because then I can do all the stuff I love doing over here, as opposed to having to do this thing on this side. The promise of it is that it will create in you a new way to experience and be about sales. What that is we are developing in you the capacity to simply have sales, be a natural expression of you developing a relationship with people. This is not how people tend to approach sales. People tend to approach sales with like, “I got to connect with someone and I got to connect to the right person and then I got to figure out how I’m going to interject this conversation with them, and then I got to figure out how to get them to say yes.” That is shitty.
You may have already had that experience and it’s crappy because there’s no room for connection there. You’re already thinking about how you’re going to pitch to them. What we’re creating in this course is a degree of freedom in your life. We’re looking at sales as a gate that you can walk through to create a breakthrough in the places in your life where you are not yet fully expressed. What you’ll find happens over this ten-week course is that you start to breathe easier when you think about filling your practice. You start to have an experience that, “This is a lot easier.” A lot of the anxiety goes away because instead of worrying about all this stuff, you start to look at, “How could I connect a little more deeply with this person?”
From there, once you’re connecting, you start to think like, “How can I serve this person a little bit more?” You’re never fixated or focused on, “How do I get this person?” As you do this, this course brings some coaching and some training. A lot of the work I do is coaching. This course provides training as well as some coaching. You’ll learn something that I see stepped over a lot in most entrepreneurial training, especially coach training and people going through this course are developing mastery and ability to not do sales and be okay with it, but the ability to see and cultivating themselves a way of being that naturally has results and sales occur. If you are in any service-based profession, if you’re an entrepreneur of any sort and you’re like, “I hate sales. That sounds cool. I would like to have it be something that I become a clearing for having happened,” this is the course for you.
It’s a low cost of $1,000. We start proper in January 2021 and it runs for ten weeks. If you’re curious or you’re like, “I’d love to know more about this,” or anything along those lines, you can do two things. You can go to AdamQuiney.com/ClientCreation. That’ll take you to the page on the course. That’ll give you a little more explanation of how this all works. You can also reach out directly to me if you’d like to have a conversation about it. Even though we haven’t even yet started proper, we’ve got about eleven people in the course at this time, and they’re already generating tremendous value. Many of them would be happy to talk to you.
If you’d like, “I’d love to talk to someone as they’re going through this or witnessed them,” you can ask me for that too and I’ll find someone who can put them in touch. You can get into a conversation with them. Don’t sleep on that. It closes fast and it will change your life, I promise you that. I hope you enjoyed this episode. We’ll see you on the next episode where we’re going to talk about Along the Spectrum: The Quality of Being a Brilliance. Bye for now.
About Adam Quiney
I’m an obsessive perfectionist, high-performer, former lawyer, and now an Executive Mentor. I know what it’s like to succeed easily and quickly. To blindly put my happiness in the hands of achievement.
All the success, money and possessions in the world couldn’t cure my boredom. Couldn’t produce a loving, intimate relationship with my wife…and definitely couldn’t fulfill me.