Army 1st Lt. Barry Klinger, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, makes a friend while in the village of Altimur in Logar province, Afghanistan, June 20. Klinger and his Soldiers, along with Afghan National Policemen and Czech army Soldiers, visited the village to assess the local needs and warn them of upcoming artillery training operations they were scheduled to conduct in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jaime’ DeLeon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Public Affairs Office)

Army 1st Lt. Barry Klinger, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, makes a friend while in the village of Altimur in Logar province, Afghanistan, June 20. Klinger and his Soldiers, along with Afghan National Policemen and Czech army Soldiers, visited the village to assess the local needs and warn them of upcoming artillery training operations they were scheduled to conduct in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jaime’ DeLeon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Public Affairs Office)

If there’s one thing that binds us together across time and borders, it is our common endeavor to survive against nature , and sometimes even each other.” – Cody A. Mann

My 17 year old son wrote this line toward the end of his English essay on Three Cups of Tea. In addition to being very proud of that young man, his quote struck me as very relevant to what is going on in the world today.

Connection.

Man was born to connect. He is biologically hardwired to connect with others. Did you know that?

There is growing evidence that our social nature – our connections – are what have allowed us to dominate as a species…and that the more resilient humans – the bloodlines that last the longest and run the deepest in history – are the ones who are more socially intelligent and adept.

Being social, or said another way, the ability to connect with other humans, is a damn powerful skill. Think about all the times you meet someone random, and then at some point, you feel a connection to them that runs pretty deep, even though you can’t put your finger on why.

We follow, do business with, and believe in the people we have connections with. But get this…

“We have a massive blind spot for our own social wiring. Humans are adapted to be highly social, but the organizations through which we live our lives are not adapted to us,” explains to Matthew D. Lieberman in the book, Social.

This means that most people, most organizations, and even our most basic institutions are not structured to support the sacred skill of human connection. Just look at how transactional our society has become today. Connections are so casual and shallow.

And if you can’t say it in 140 characters or less, through a mobile device, no one says it.

Here is the good news…

If you accept and integrate this reality – the importance of connection and the fact that hardly no one pays attention to it – you have a tremendous strategic advantage over others.

I’ve done a lot of work and research in this arena of connection, as a Green Beret, author, trainer, and entrepreneur. I’ve achieved countless strategic outcomes (financial, military, policy, advocacy, educational etc) by making connections with other relevant human beings.

I encourage you to do the same.

Two of the most powerful ways to do this are through listening and storytelling. Not, only are they the most timeless forms of communication; they trigger the brain’s happy chemicals of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin which are essential to human connections.

Listening, really listening, is a skill. Think about the people in your life who were good listeners. How did they make you feel? People who listen well validate our identity and make us feel valued. This promotes a major connection.

Storytelling is very similar. When we tell stories we impart important details into emotional context in a way that adds meaning and memory to our life. And that leads to powerful connections. According to the late Steve Jobs, storytellers are the leaders of these troubled times.

The world is going to continue to get more complex, impersonal, and data-saturated. The leader who can make authentic connections across time and space in this sea of chaos is the one who will lead and dominate the 21st century.

If you haven’t worked with me on learning to make connections, I hope you will.

Follow me on twitter, check out my website, and read my book Game Changers for a good start on how to make powerful connections.

Until next time, Keep Leaving Tracks,

De Oppresso Liber,
Scott Mann

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About The Author

Scott Mann has spent most of his entire adult life leaving tracks, and his mission in life is to help others do the same. His Dad, Rex Mann, refers to this as giving back to causes higher than yourself. He doesn’t know why he loves it so, but he does. He has served our great country for 23 years in the U.S. Army, most of that as a Green Beret doing missions all over the world. He fought three combat tours in Afghanistan, as well as in many other conflict zones such as Iraq and Colombia. His last few years in the Army, he was an architect and original implementer of the Special Operations Village Stability Operations (VSO)/Afghan Local Police (ALP) programs in Afghanistan. He also designed and implemented the popular SOCOM Academic Week training courses. Scott has commanded troops at several levels. At his last rank, lieutenant colonel, he made the tough decision to pass on his promotion to colonel and pursue other passions. It was one of the toughest but most rewarding choices he ever made. He is now the founder and CEO of the Stability Institute, where they broker knowledge and connecting stability professionals on complex stability issues around the globe. In concert with Institute President Howard Clark, he has built a vast network of stability practitioners who collaborate on unique solutions for government organizations, large corporations and even small businesses and individuals. As an entrepreneur, he built a multimillion-dollar real estate portfolio and property management company with his brother, who is his best friend and partner. They buy, turn around, and operate mobile home communities all over the state of North Carolina. He is blessed to put his entrepreneurial experience to use by mentoring transitioning Green Berets and other veterans in reaching their goals and dreams in the civilian sector. As an advocate, he is also the founder/CEO of Patriot Families, a nonprofit organization helping military families and wounded veterans at a grassroots level cope with the rigors of military deployments and family stress. He serves on the board of advisors for Stay in Step Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Center in Tampa, Florida, and Spirit of America, a nonprofit supporting our warriors and diplomats with stability missions abroad. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in Political Science. He has a Master’s Degree in Operational Art and Science from the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College. He lives in Riverview, Florida with his wife Monty and their three boys Cody, Cooper, and Brayden

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