I’m referring to the emotional connectedness that is a fundamental human need, of which most of us aren’t getting enough.
Intimacy is about closeness, getting beyond formality and making a genuine and authentic connection with a person or community. It’s also about the vulnerability that comes with engaging in a way that is honest and real; the exquisite point of connection and mutual understanding.
With these definitions in mind it’s not surprising that many of us are craving more intimacy. So much emotional distance has crept into our daily lives. Technology allows us to communicate and learn from a distance; the media pushes unrealistic images of beauty and success; and even philanthropy has become about writing checks or clicking buttons for on-line donations. We find ourselves sorting through endless layers of messaging, branding, and marketing just to find something that is actually real.
And yet we are at our best when we connect with others in an authentic and personal way. Intimacy nourishes our souls, it helps us to cope and persevere, and also fosters creativity and innovation. The closer we get to understanding people and their needs, the better we are at offering support and solutions. This is true both on an individual and organizational level. As soon as we allow emotional distance to creep between ourselves and the populations we serve, we quickly find ourselves out of touch and ineffective. But intimacy is a two-way street. It’s not enough to simply be responsive, we must also give of ourselves, sharing our own needs and frailties as well as our dreams and aspirations. It is through this intersection of honest and authentic sharing that magic happens.
I have come to know the power of intimacy and the amazing things that can happen when you allow yourself to get close to people, communities, and ideas. As you lose yourself in thinking about others, you also lose your fear, insecurity and sense of trepidation. What’s left in its place is courage, strength, and the type of leadership that we desperately crave.