Slideshow image

“Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

People often overlook how necessary it is to make meaningful connections. It is so easy to go through our day without really taking the time to get to know the people in our everyday lives. At Ahead of the Game, one of our strategies is to find that thread that binds us all together. Over the years I’ve found that the best communicators find ways to really connect with others, and that begins with listening and being observant.

The first year our program was running, I had a young woman who attended. For the sake of this story, let’s call her “J”. Now J would often come out to the program but never really spoke. I observed that she would listen in on our discussions, and seemed to be taking in information, but she never commented or put her hand up to participate. I realized after awhile that though she was present, she was not connected.

One day, I walked up to J while we were doing a vision exercise and I thanked her for coming. I told her that it was great to see her. Sheepishly and a little confused, she replied, “I guess you’re welcome.” I told her I noticed that she didn’t ask or answer any questions.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “I just don’t have much to say. I’m not that interesting like the other kids.”

I said, “Well you know what? I think you’re special. I also think you have a lot to say.” She just shrugged her shoulders.

So I asked her what her interests were. She said she still didn’t know. This was where my opportunity to share and connect came in.

Many times failure to reflect stifles our opportunity to grow. When I reflect on an entrepreneurial story of how my childhood gumball machine earned me money when I was young, I realize that I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. As I shared this with her, I suggested that maybe there’s something she was overlooking; something that she was great at it that gave her joy.

Finally, she said, “I like to clean.”

“What would I see if I looked in your room?” I asked.

“It would be really, really clean,” she said with a smile on her face. “At nights I go with this lady who has her own cleaning business.”

I asked her if she knew anyone around her with such a passion for cleaning. She said she had no idea. She had never really thought about it. “That is your gift,” I told her. “Why is it that you wake up longing to want something tidy. Why is it that you get agitated when things are a mess?”

She began to smile.

I said, “ I have this crazy idea. Have you ever put thought into what you’d like to do as a career?”

She began to tell me how much she admired the cleaning lady and how she ran her business. I asked her if she saw herself doing that. She said she had no idea where to start. I said, “Just keep learning and growing and see what happens.”

A year later, I revisited the school where I’d first met J. When I saw her, I asked her how she was doing. She said, “Great! I quit my job.” When I asked why, she said, “I stopped because I opened my own business.”

J, at 18 years old, had started her own cleaning business.


The reason why I tell this story is because of how J and I connected. Before we spoke, she was simply present at our mentorship program. She was physically there, but not really connected our engaged with what we were doing. When she and I spoke, however, we connected on a few different levels.

For one, we connected through relatability. I showed her how I had learned from reflecting on when I was young.

We connected a second time when she opened up about her passion for cleaning. I used this opportunity to steer her passion into something purposeful.

We connected one last time when I introduced the idea of possibility. By asking her what she wanted out her life career-wise, she was forced to come up with something that she could see herself doing. By implementing possibility, J was able to turn a passion into something that had significant impact on her life.

Now, she had grown from an unsure, shy student to a confident young woman with her own business. That was the power of our connection.

So choose to connect and engage with others. By taking the time to just have a simple conversation with one another, you might be the spark that ignites someone else’s success.



Like this post? Want to make a donation? Click here for more information on how you can get involved.