Creating space for spontaneity and wonder to flourish

The Elders
The Elders | Benny Gool
Jean Oelwang
by Jean Oelwang
7 April 2022
According to Jean Oelwang, the founding CEO and president of Virgin Unite, the world needs a relationship reset, which must start by understanding how to build deep connections in all aspects of our lives.

Jean’s debut book, Partnering, reveals how some of the most successful people of our time became great leaders through the building of strong relationships.

Below we share an excerpt from Partnering about the importance of creating magnetic moments and how by keeping connected and strengthening your ecosystem we can keep wonder alive, create space for honest communication, spark unlimited joy, and build a wider supportive community.

On July 18, 2007, Nelson Mandela marked his 89th birthday by launching The Elders, a collective with the shared goal of tackling tough global issues.

He was joined by leaders whom he and his wife, Graça, had selected back on that morning in October 2006 at their home, including Archbishop Tutu, former US president Jimmy Carter, former UN secretary - general Kofi Annan, and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson.

Image by Benny Gool
Image by Benny Gool

The founding ceremony took place at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa, where many anti-apartheid heroes had been imprisoned at the height of South Africa’s apartheid government.

Musician Peter Gabriel brought the crowd to tears by closing the ceremony with his song “Biko,” written about the anti-apartheid hero Steve Biko, who was assassinated by the brutal apartheid regime in 1977.

I remember standing by the stage, basking in the moment, and thinkingWe did it! We’ve launched this amazing collective into the world. The hard work is done. It wasn’t.

Much of my life, I’ve mistakenly believed that relationships should form spontaneously, without the need for effort and planning. As you may have realised by this point, this isn’t the case.

Deep connection is not a gift bestowed by the universe. It requires what I now call magnetic moments. These are intentional experiences that allow for people to be present together. Magnetic moments give space for spontaneity and wonder to flourish.

Creating them takes thought, planning, and effort, but they are worth it because of the way they increase the depth and meaning of the connections you form.

All the author’s proceeds from Partnering will be donated to Plus Wonder, an independent not-for-profit initiative to inspire people to forge partnerships in service of a greater purpose. Order Partnering today.