The importance of creating deep connections

Partnering_Plus Wonder
Plus Wonder
Jean Oelwang
by Jean Oelwang
18 March 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 investing in deep connections and deepening our most important relationships.

There is no perfect answer to where you can find meaningful connections. The good news is that opportunities exist everywhere, but only if we take the time to slow down, connect, and be present when we meet new people.

Many of the partnerships in this book met randomly – in school, at work, on a blind date, in a poetry slam class, in an art gallery, in a courtroom, in the African bush, in their own families, and, if you happen to be as fortunate as President and Mrs. Carter, as neighbours at birth.

What’s important is thoughtfully investing time in identifying and nurturing a diverse group of deep connections and deepening those important relationships.

Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks, says, “The most important decision you’re ever going to make is who you choose to spend your life with, personal or professional. We are nothing other than the summation of our relationships. So, choose wisely.”

Deep Connections also help you define your purpose. They keep you on track when the going gets tough, and in turn they create far more resilient and meaningful relationships.

While purpose and partnerships constantly reinforce each other, they often have the added benefit of bringing down the flawed barriers we put up between work and life. As Beverly Joubert, co-founder of Big Cats Initiative, told me, “When you find your core passion, it becomes a part of your life – not just ‘work’ that separates you from the rest of life.”

We’ve created a false myth that work and personal relationships must be kept separate. When you step back and reflect on this idea, it makes no sense whatsoever. We spend over 33% of our lives at work; if we fail to invest in deep connections that can bring greater meaning to a third of our life and beyond, we’re missing a major opportunity.

Opportunities exist everywhere, but only if we take the time to slow down, connect, and be present when we meet new people

When we apply the same skills we use in building friendships to a work setting, our connections at work transform from being transactional and goal-driven to having true depth and purpose.

Ultimately, these deep connections will create better businesses as well. Richard Reed started his business with his three best mates, and 18 years later, they are still best friends. Yet he still gets asked whether it is weird doing business with his friends. He always replies, “Isn’t it weird not doing business with your friends?”

Creating deep connections increases the opportunity for diverse thinking and more robust approaches to whatever challenges we decide to take on. Of course, there is no set number, shape, or size of deep connections.

The breadth of partnerships I’ve studied has shown me that the skills to build a strong relationship are consistent, whether in a friendship, business partnership, or romantic partnership (or, in some cases, all three in one). Some people have one deep connection, while others have a handful – the number is not important; the depth is. There is also a depth continuum across relationships: some at one end as your deepest connections and others at the opposite end, those with whom you might have a fleeting relationship.

Nurturing your deep connections will help make all your relationships as meaningful as possible, approaching every interaction with trust, respect, and curiosity as second nature. Our deep connections bring us meaning, love, and got-your-back friendships – a chance to become the best possible version of ourselves and to create significant positive impact. They are also the key to many of the collaborations that have changed the shape of our world for the better.

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.