7 Qualities of Highly Connected People

And how we all might have at least a dash of them

Authentic connections reveal our messy humanity, our unique differences, and our ability to trust and tend to one another. They ask us to be brave sharers and inquisitive listeners, granting the space and grace to ourselves and each other to show up unscripted.” Elyse Burden

At School of Thought, spring feels like the perfect time to introduce a few changes we are rolling out. Starting this week, to aid provide time to savor the pieces, we are dividing out our portions. If you missed it, Part I is here.


Big Idea

In a recent piece in the New York Times, David Brooks asked whether this year of isolation and social distancing may be reshaping who we are. We have missed so many tiny, but lasting, acts of connection, serendipitous encounters confiding to strangers on a train ride, or telling stories in the line for Chai tea, and having that momentary importance in each other’s lives.

“Those little acts, giving fruit to each other, turn out to be tremendously fortifying. Feeling like you have a sense of purpose, it turns out, is not just about the big commitments, but also small exchanges.”

We are beginning to emerge slowly from the pandemic and back into more physically connected spaces. This week, out and about on the streets of Philadelphia, the pace felt different. Slower. I ran into friends I hadn’t seen, and thought about how many moments of serendipity passed unseen as we were isolating this year.

Social connections are as important to our survival and flourishing as the need for food, safety, and shelter. And this is not just more good news for extroverts. Researchers agree that the benefits of connection are actually subjective. In other words, if you feel connected to others on the inside, you reap the benefits on the outside.

We have been thinking about the qualities that aid in real connection, and have rounded up some themes and ideas that form the building blocks of community: those qualities of connected people. Even while physically apart, we are all connected in some way…or could be.

Making Big Ideas Usable

Knowing the qualities of highly connected people, those able to not just create, but sustain effective threads among humans and ideas, allows us to more clearly identify these characteristics in ourselves and each other. These are not meant to imply things we should or should not do, but lessons to be learned from those who bring others together in positive and impactful ways. The themes collected suggest that,

  • with the importance of community,

  • with the world of leaders and learners sitting on a perpetual seesaw,

  • with our personal and professional lives an almost constant state of improvisation,

awareness of these ways of being and knowing may allow us to emerge from this year fortified with new purpose and energy around the threads that bond. 


7 Qualities of Highly Connected People

1st Quality: Gentle keepers of revolutionary energy