My current job affords me the opportunity to travel to distant lands, experience new things, and meet lots of interesting people. In fact, last month I had the privilege of bouncing around the west coast, Alaska, Hawaii, and a few stops in the Pacific Rim. Each stop was very different, yet each was very similar. The differences were cultural and made the experience all the more meaningful; the similarities were grounded in a shared philosophy that bound us together. Because the team of which I am a part is dispersed globally, I was able to reconnect with a few familiar friends, but it was the unfamiliar that made the trip that much more worthwhile. In fact, there were two hands I shook that I will remember most.

During the most distant stop on the trip, I was greeted by a man I had never met. When he shook my hand, he told me that he felt like he knew me. He knew me through my writing. He knew me through this blog. He knew me from the Question of the Day I began offering a growing audience throughout this year (via my LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook Group). Truth is we had never met, so clearly he didn’t know me at all…or did he? He was visibly interested in spending more time together and building upon the relationship he had with me. And though I had far less knowledge of him, he made it clear that he was an inspiring leader and the type of person whom I would benefit from getting to know. We talked as long as we could, but our respective responsibilities made sure our engagement was cut short.

Two stops later into the trip, I found the shoe on the other foot. We were in Los Angeles at a speaking engagement and I looked behind me to find Simon Sinek. Now, Simon has been one of my favorite authors and speakers since I stumbled across his work in 2010. In fact, I would go as far as to say that, through his teachings, he is one of the top five individuals who helped me to shape my leadership philosophy. I had met him in 2013 when I took a few of my favorite Shipmates to Brooklyn to hear him speak. Our interaction that day was brief and I gave him no reason to remember me. I had every reason to remember him. I have read his books, listened to his talks, and modeled my Question of the Day after his Notes to Inspire. I knew him. I know him. Or do I? We shared lunch and spoke about a few of the many interests we shared. Just as I did when I was the one who provided the familiarity, I enjoyed the time we shared immensely in large part because Simon was familiar to me.

Familiarity facilitates trust, trust provides the foundation for relationships, relationships give life meaning, and a life without meaning isn’t much of one. The meaning of life is not familiarity, but a meaningful life includes plenty of familiarity.

  • What are you doing to connect?
  • How meaningful are the relationships in your life?
  • Whom do you feel as though you know?
  • What unknowns are you turning into knowns?