Great Escape Podcast episode 44 - Don't be lonely, community is important


-One of the challenges, joys of doing a regular podcast, especially solo editions, is that you gotta come up with something to talk about, and sometimes you're sitting there thinking, "I have no idea what to talk about." And today's episode really just came out of itself. It's been just such a day.

I've had several conversations today with friends, business colleagues, who are struggling for all sorts of reasons. But actually, when I thought about it, I realized that part of what I was struggling with as well today, is that human beings are tribal, social creatures. Through most of our history we lived in small communities, something like 70 to a 100 people. We knew everybody within our community, we work together, we live together, we play together. And something that happens in modern life is even though we're more connected than we ever were, Facebook, Twitter, all of these things, email, mobile phones. Actually in many ways, we are less closely connected with anybody. So when we begin to feel isolated, we begin to feel a little bit depressed. Not necessarily even in the clinical sense, but sometimes, very much in the clinical sense. When we feel that isolation beginning and we see all of this stuff going on around us, especially if we start looking at things like Facebook where it looks like everybody's having a great time the whole time, apart from, we've all got that Facebook friend for whom everything is always is going horribly wrong. And essentially what they are trying to do is create people coming back and saying, "It's okay, we love you." That's what they're trying to do. So we end up in this isolated place and I've had a hour-long session with one of my coaching clients today, and she was just absolutely struggling. She's been working on her business incredibly hard for a long period of time, hundreds of pieces of content made, product out there, some sales but not a lot. And actually the key problem there is not to do with the business, it's to do with the fact that she's run out of steam. She's burned herself out. She's put so much effort into getting to this point, she got nothing left, with which to then, having launched the products, start marketing, making connections with people and doing things. Another friend who is just really struggling with addiction and, you know, it's something that many of us have struggled with in one way or another over the years. But just feeling really really disconnected, doesn't feel like they'd got anybody they can talk to. Just not wanting to head down that rabbit hole of self-medication again. Other friends today on the phone say, "Oh, just can't get started, "just feeling really lonely "or really down or really distracted." That must be be my problem today, I had three jobs I really, really needed to do and one job that I wanted to do and so far I've gone about... I've got two of the ones that need to be done done, and one of the ones that I wanted to get done is currently about four hours behind schedule, so. Yeah, it's. But what I wanted, what ended up happening was just trying to reach out, make connections, send an email, have a conversation, phone somebody instead of send them the message so that there was that bit of two-way connection. So the point of all of this rambling about people being lonely or people being disconnected or finding it difficult to get motivated is actually we need to take time to create real connections with people. To join up, to physically sit down and have a conversation with somebody. Or not even if it's, it doesn't even need to be an important conversation, it just needs to be a connection, a discussion about life, the universe, everything, nothing, football, really doesn't matter. Because as human beings, we are wired to connect. We're wired to talk, we're wired to communicate, we're wired to want to feel like we belong, even if we're introverts, we still need to know that we belong in a particular community. And that's something that in today's society, especially those of us who are trying to start our own businesses or running our own businesses. Being an entrepreneur is an incredibly lonely route to go down. You're constantly pushing yourself to do the next piece of work, you're constantly pushing yourself to work out what the next piece of work is. There's no boss telling you what to do and that's, can be really really challenging. I think my solution to this is try and build time into your week, and I'm talking to myself here as much as anybody else, where you're physically connecting with people, where you're physically sitting down, having a coffee, without necessarily there being an agenda, just time spent with other human beings, rather than necessarily just time spent watching the TV. Because if you're both watching the TV, you're not interacting with each other, it's an essentially a passive activity. You may as well be on your own because you're not creating that connection unless it's with your spouse, your partner when you might actually be snuggled up together in which case there's physical contact happening. If you've not had, I was going to say a meaningful conversation, perhaps the important thing is a meaningless conversation, a conversation that isn't predicated upon work, isn't predicated upon a business transaction, isn't predicated upon a negotiation towards an outcome, with another human being recently, it's almost certainly time to go and try and find an environment in which that happened. And certainly when I left the church, when I stopped having faith, one of the things that I missed was not so much rocking up to church on a Sunday morning and sitting through a service, what I missed was those conversations that happened with people afterwards. Those conversations with the people I felt were my tribe. And I think that's what I'm observing in all of these conversations I've had with people today and seriously, it's eight or nine conversations with different people today who've all said, "No, I'm feeling disconnected, "I'm feeling depressed. "I'm feeling lonely. "I'm feeling like I'm on my own. "I'm feeling like I can't get motivated." The common thread through all of them is that there hasn't been that sense of connection to a tribe or a community. And so that's something that I think we really need to make sure we build into our lives. Whether we're entrepreneurs, or whether we're working in another place, or whatever it is we're doing, we need that sense of connection. And it's one of the reasons why I have my office here, I don't work from home. I could work from home, it would be cheaper, but actually it's quite nice having the other people in the other offices down the road, down the corridor even if they do seem to be banging doors at the moment, I don't know if you can hear that. If you can I'm sorry. It's nice to have people that you can go and connect with and have a conversation with at the water cooler or by the coffee machine. Nip to the cafe at lunchtime together and just have a conversation with no agenda. Just human beings connecting with one another and feeling like they belong in this place. Even if the only thing that we have in common with one another is that we both have our offices in the same building. At least we can moan about people banging doors, or whatever it is. So there it is, there's my challenge for you. Work out how you can make more contact with other human beings without agenda this week.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Great Escape Podcast. You can find other episodes at all the usual places on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify, or at the website, And if you'd like to contact me to talk about any element of this episode or others have covered, please go to, and you can find all the ways of getting hold of me there. And if you're stuck in a situation and you can't find the way out, please go there, send me a message, and let's see how we can work together to get you unstuck and moving forward with your life again. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family, other people you think might appreciate it, and comment on episodes, or send me a message, I'd love to keep the conversation going.

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