MCD Partners

Memphis Daily News
Take Time to Connect and Share
October 6, 2014
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

The drive to the meeting was inspirational. The weather was perfect, the lights were green, and someone even let me in the line of traffic right before it merged to the left.

I had a newness of thought as I weighed possible solutions to the problem to be discussed at the meeting. I wondered what insights others would offer to the situation. I took my place at the table and looked down at the agenda. There was no discussion planned. It was just a report of what had been, what is and what will continue to be.

I saw that the boundaries had already been established “in the interest of time.” The possibilities for excellence that come from shared risk-taking had been relinquished in favor of the safety of maintaining the status quo.

The agenda reminded me of the old saying: “If you always do what you always did, then you’ll always get what you always got.” I picked up my pen and added an item to the agenda, “What do you think?”

Collective wisdom seems to be less and less important in society today. Yes, we have more ways to communicate than ever before, but communication has become one of the simultaneous things that we do as we multitask, and instant messages have replaced our conversations.

How do you get to really know each other, share your thoughts and be truly connected if your conversations are only brief, superficial and one-dimensional? How do you build a community, a workplace, a family, a life, with such short-term focus on shared decision making?

If you do not provide time for an encounter with the thoughts and ideas of others, then you miss the opportunity to experience the unique perspective each person brings to the whole. You might miss the conversation that inspires you to find purpose and meaning.

Shortcut communication – at home, at work or in the community – only causes you to know less and assume more. You’ll never get to say, “Let’s talk about it … what do you think about … you just gave me a great idea … I understand.”

Starbucks is successful not only because of the coffee they sell, but because of the lifestyle they portray – an image of good conversations happening around the tables. It’s a lifestyle of being with others, of sitting down and talking to each other.

Great ideas start with a conversation. You don’t need coffee drinking as an excuse to do that. You don’t need agendas to plan your thoughts. You just need to take the time to share ideas, possible solutions, brainstorm and have a real conversation, a face-to-face, all-the-time-in-the-world kind of conversation, because you’re worth it.

When was the last time you had a conversation that left you “fired up,” inspired you with a call to action, to a vision of what could be? When was the last time you had a conversation that left you with a feeling of connectedness? When was the last time you took the time to start one?

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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