Written by Courtney lynch

I often hear people share how we “live in an interconnected world.” When I worked at Facebook during its early years of rapid scale, the mission was to “make the world more open and connected.” While email, text, social media, and digital connectivity are highly present in our world, I think we can all see how, in many ways, we are more disconnected than ever.

The value of connection was again profoundly illuminated during a recent travel debacle. Rough weather had grounded planes coming and going out of the St. Louis airport, and the terminal was packed. Recognizing we were facing extended delays, fellow passengers and I crowded into the few sit-down restaurants available, lining up for seats. When I was nearing the front of the line, I overheard the couple in front of me ask if they could be seated at the lone empty table. The hostess responded that because that table had four chairs, she had to sit at least three people there during a peak busy time like this. Realizing it might be a while before another table came up, the couple and I exchanged glances and almost at once said, “We are a party of three. We’ll sit together.” We were then quickly led to the table.

That’s when the magic began. Within minutes, we realized we were on the same flight. I was heading home; they were heading to visit the man’s father. Things got really interesting when we discovered that the husband and I had attended the same high school. And it was extremely uncanny when it turned out the man’s dad lived one street away from me. That instant connection of our life paths led to an easy openness and exchange. It also sparked two hours of wonderful conversation, thought exchange, debate, and perspective sharing. Hands down, it was the best weather delay I have ever experienced. Drinks were had, stories were shared, and hearts were filled through the power of connection.

It was a poignant reminder that it is people that make us better. People give us meaning. And personal connection contributes so much to joy and goodwill.

I typically pass the time during an unexpected delay in solitary ways, immersed in a digital world. This experience was a powerful reminder that while human-to-human connections are often available, we have isolating habits.

In the week ahead, when your phone beckons or your email inbox pulls you in, I encourage you to instead engage with another person intentionally. You’ll be reminded of the power of connection, and you’ll rediscover the spontaneous joy of seeing and being seen by another person.

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through its innovative coaching programs.