The first time I lived in London, I believed, for three whole years, that I didn't have any real friends or community. I compared it constantly to my "ideal" life in Brooklyn that was constructed entirely around a sense of community grounded in shared cultural heritage and a particular set of social justice values.
Then I moved back to the states, to Alexandria, VA and I missed my London friends. The "new" London friends. They were good friends. They missed me. They wrote me real letters. (Facebook was just catching on, but still, they wrote me letters and cards! British people are SO good at letters and cards).
The realization: I wasted so much time and emotional energy mourning my life in New York that it made me unwilling to be fully present, open and appreciative of my life in London.
This realization + deep work with my friend, coach and hypnotherapist, Laura Palmer, helped me to let go of the artificial external barriers to human connection (accents, sense of humor, cultural differences) and connect with human beings anywhere. I am fully open (on most days -- we all have our bad days), to being deeply connected to people who come into my life.
Being someone who moves every 4-7 years, quickly becoming fully present and establishing human connections have become my most essential life and career skills. Ease of human connection that transcends artificial social constructs is key to positive and successful transitions of all kinds, and my personal practice in this area helps me to provide a deep and authentic level of support to my clients who are embarking on a big life and career change.
So, here are a few quick lessons that I've learned to be able to plop yourself anywhere (new city, new country, new job, new leadership role, new networking environment, etc) and quickly establish authentic, rich connections that lead to genuine relationships:
Our lives and careers uproot us, transport us, lead us down windy paths and present us with unusual detours. With each turn, we have a choice: to connect deeply with those around us, or not.
Jen Walper Roberts is a leadership and transition coach who supports mission-driven women to thrive in leadership, life and in their work to make the world a better place. Jen has led Conspire Coaching since 2011 and continues to develop coaching communities of mission-driven women in North America and Europe. She currently lives in Leeds, UK with her (very handsome) British husband and four strong-willed children. If you're facing a significant life or career transition, or are stretching into a significant leadership role, contact Jen to save time, energy and mental spiraling.
We conspire with mission-driven women to lead, succeed and thrive in their careers, lives and organizations.
Individuals: We envision women who are enlivened, empowered and emerged. Our members have clarity of purpose and lead from strengths.
Community: We bring communities of women into the practice of seeing each other's strengths and potential. We envision multiplying communities of women-fueling-women's success and impact.
World: We conspire to unlock the potential energy & contributions of 51% of the human population. When this potential energy, thought power, and talent is unleashed, we will solve even the most difficult problems and transform the world.