Laughing, Learning, Leading, Loving and Living Large all play a critical role in making our lives and personal relationships as good as they can be. Arthur F. Coombs’ delightful storytelling in HUMAN CONNECTION: How the “L” Do We Do That? is all about becoming the best “you” possible using these five tools.
Coombs is an excellent storyteller, weaving a very personal narrative with historical examples of how it takes connection with others to be happy and fulfilled. He takes us under his wing, and unabashedly shares the most poignant moments in his life, including both his failures and successes. He also includes motivational stories and quotes from his family and friends as well as famously wise men and women, from Gandhi and the Buddha, to Coco Chanel and Marianne Williamson.
Laughing is the first key to forming a solid connection with others and also “the only way to get through life…” quotes Coombs, adding “…laughter can kick off positive thoughts and feelings that lighten the mood and put things into perspective.” Coombs offers wonderful examples of how humor not only alleviates stress, but makes us feel good, and then he keeps us smiling and laughing throughout the book as he covers the other four L’s as well.
Whether you want to be a good Leader at work or at home, the capacity for Laughing, Learning, Loving and Living Large are all interconnected and Coombs deftly makes it all sound seamlessly doable, from loving ourselves, to unconditionally loving others.
Reading this book will inspire you to Live Large — abundantly, wholeheartedly, to the fullest — and also give you the tools to do so.
Arthur F. Coombs III is a best-selling author, speaker, leadership guru, and single father of four, who is known for his visionary and innovative practices. Here, he answers my questions on HUMAN CONNECTION: How the “L” Do We Do That?
What would you like readers to take away from reading your book?
If we want to have a meaningful impact on those closest to us, at home or in the office, we must genuinely connect with them…in person. Not just through email, texting, or social media sites.
Technology has made our lives easier in many ways, but when it comes to human connection, nothing beats doing life together in real time.
Yes, life in community gets messy. We hurt other people’s feelings. We get our feelings hurt. We disagree. We argue. We sometimes say and do things we regret.
But when we continue to try, when we make connections and develop deeper relationships, we grow exponentially. We learn about the world around us. We bond with others. We heal. We mature. We become better versions of ourselves.
Why is connecting with others in person so important?
With genuine human connection, you can have more profound, more fulfilling relationships if you focus on five L’s: Living, Laughing, Learning, Leading, and Loving.
Living: Making an effort to be physically present, to interact and share with others on a regular basis is a critical step.
Laughing: Laughter is a beautiful and healing expression of joy. Whether you are 2 months or 102 years old, laughing is how we communicate: “I want to know you. I feel safe with you. I trust you. I feel connected to you.”
Learning: Being open-minded and willing to listen to another’s point of view or feelings without necessarily accepting them is a gift to both people. Connection demands that you are eager to teach and be taught.
Leading: If you want to lead others well in any capacity, you must first care about them. Whether you are leading or being led, true human connection is vital.
Loving: Love has many languages, takes many actions, and has endless forms of expression. Learn what moves you and perhaps more importantly what moves those you care about. Choose mercy. Choose compassion. Choose forgiveness. Choose each day to be genuinely kind.
We were not created to live and work alone. Authentic human connection is everything. And it begins with you. Without genuine human-to-human connection, you will never live the rich, wholehearted life you were meant to live.
In your book, you explain how we “Create Our Own World.” Can you provide a little insight into that concept here?
It sounds so cliché, but you truly are the masters of your own destiny. It seems we all commit to ourselves to improve and yet most will admit they are not living the life they truly want. How many times have you made the same commitment to change for the better only to see it die a quick death? Many make promises to lose weight, stop smoking, start their own business, eat healthier, exercise regularly, be a better parent… you get it. I applaud the verbal affirmation. It is a start. However, there are no quick fixes, magic pills, or secret shortcuts. Real transformational work is hard, exhausting, and will involve sacrifice and uncomfortable choices. Two cues:
1: Break the goal down into small, doable, daily tasks. Instead of the abstract goal of “losing weight,” commit to specific small actions you can do every day that will propel you towards your overall goal.
2: When you stumble on your small committed action (it will happen), no sweat! Just get back to it tomorrow. Recognize that stumbling and getting back up is part of the process.
You are the source of your fortunes. Your dream is clearest to you and you alone. Let the dream drive sustained action. You have a fresh 24 today. What will you do with them? What world will you create?
What is a “Story Holder” and why do you think it is so important to be one?
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
Just like those tree-climbing fish, society often tells us that we are not enough. We are not smart enough. We are not tall enough. We are not pretty enough, thin enough, fast enough, strong enough. Enough, enough, ENOUGH! When we pile on our own negative perceptions and feelings for others on top of what society tells us, we are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that will most definitely come to pass.
You must bask in the light of others and allow them to share from time to time. You must give them the emotional space and comfort that allows them to drop their mask and talk to you. You must listen to your friends’ stories and savor and celebrate their authenticity and empathize with their pain. Hold their stories with reverence. Let your friends know you can be trusted and are worthy of hearing their stories. And when appropriate, laugh with them. Let them feel they are enough. Let them feel your trust, loyalty, and love.
You quote Brené Brown saying “…we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” How does one truly love themselves?
There are many things I do that promote healthy self-love. I sing and dance in the kitchen making my kids cringe and laugh all at the same time. I laugh at my mistakes. I make many. But the quickest and easiest tip I can give anyone that is struggling with self-love is to do a random act of kindness for another.
My natural reaction to stress, depression and my own selfish funk is to turn inward and shut myself off; I want to stay focused on my burdensome to-do list, and I want to be left alone. But then the lyrics of the song “Have I Done Any Good” by Will L. Thompson start dancing through my head, and I remember that the fastest antidote for self-loathing, discouragement and depression is to do something for someone else. I promise it truly works. I’ve tried it over and over, and it has been a foolproof method for creating healthy self-love, optimism, and cheerfulness.
How would you define true or real love?
The best definition I can give you for true love is “Love is wanting the happiness of another with no ulterior motives.” It is that simple. Hard to do, but that simple.
What is the secret to Living Large, as you describe a genuinely fulfilled life?
Do not let your past enslave or define you. Do not worry about the things you cannot control. Embrace and even encourage honest mistakes. Happiness is a choice, and anger, resentment, and jealousy are as well. Choose wisely. It is yours and yours alone to make. Your reputation means little; what other people think of you is not nearly as important as what you think of you. People and organizations who use shame, guilt, and judgment to create fear, intimidation, and control are not worth my time and energy. No matter how hard I try to please, plenty of people are not going to love me. There are only two things that are truly important to me — my time and my relationships. I protect closely what I do with my time and who I do it with.