Lessons from Africa on the power of connection.

Africa is everything you’ve ever imagined it could be, and nothing like you ever could have imagined. 

Granted I haven’t been all over Africa – I haven’t even been all over Tanzania yet – however in the small bit I have seen and experienced, I can honestly say there is something magical about this place.

We are not tourists here… and that makes a big difference. 

We’re staying with a local family in their guest house, we’re cooking with the local ‘mamas’ from the Dare Women’s Foundation while on site (it’s quite amazing watching a small area covered merely by a tarp be transformed into a full on kitchen…) preparing some of the most tasty and memorable meals ever, and our volunteer work in this remote village is building a fence around a property that will one become a community home for women in need.

We pass children in their uniforms on their way to and from school, flashing the whitest of smiles, screaming ‘Jambo!’ while running after our bus, impressively keeping up with our pace. 

We get welcomed by the village mamas in their beautiful brightly coloured dresses and kangas (traditional wraps) with singing and dancing and shaking of hips and whistle blowing (I have never been greeted with such genuine warmth and excitement…) It really does bring tears to my eyes every time.

And we’ve seen giraffes walking along a ridge in the distance, while hearing hippopotami (is that the plural of hippopotamus?!?) snort in a lake right next to us, as we share big dreams and big fears taking the ladies in our group through my ‘Spark Your G.E.N.I.U.S.’ program.

I feel so incredibly fortunate to be experiencing what I’m experiencing and learning what I’m learning right now. 

And, you don’t necessarily have to go to Africa (although I will say, if and when you get the chance, GO! It is INCREDIBLE and so hard to describe…) or another part of the world to shift your perspective or learn important lessons. 

But one of the biggest things – takeaways, highlights, learnings – is not really a new lesson at all. 

I’ve long since understood the power of it, yet being here it’s become even more evident to me.

CONNECTION.

Despite different backgrounds, regardless of various upbringings, beyond obvious language barriers, I continue to truly connect with so many of the local people I meet and have the honour of working with.

And it brings so much more meaning to every interaction.

Connect with others. 

Connect with yourself.

Connect to the moment. 

Last week I spoke about people, experiences, and moments making the world go around. 

Well, continuing on that theme, the next step is to truly CONNECT. 

If you are not connecting with these people, experiences, or moments, you will miss the mark, and the magic.

And so with respect to people specifically, here are three easy ways to more powerfully connect. 

1  See people.

See people for who they truly are. Get to know them. Be let in. Place yourself in their shoes whenever possible. Learn their names. Learn their story.

2  Share Yourself. 

Don’t be afraid to self disclose. Let them in. When you open up, you invite them to do the same. And vulnerable sharing is the birthplace of deeper and more meaningful connection. 

3  Smile More.

Don’t underestimate the power of gestures. Making eye contact, extending a hand, or offering an embrace goes a LONG way. Especially when there may be a language barrier. Smile. A smile is truly worth a thousand words. Smile and the world smiles back at you. 

 

When you want to more powerfully connect with someone, use these three tips and you’ll be well on your way.

After all, human connection is important, and people, experiences, and moments make the world go around.

It’s been an incredible first week here in Tanzania, and tomorrow we head off at 5am towards the mountain to start our climb up Kilimanjaro. 

Wish us luck!

Carol Schulte

Carol is a published author, has been featured in numerous magazines and podcasts, and is a returning guest expert on Rogers TV. Having lived and worked in 16 countries including Ashrams in India and vans in New Zealand, rocked dreadlocks in Thailand and shaved her head for breast cancer, she certainly walks her talk and brings a global perspective to all she does. When she’s not traveling or speaking on stage, you can find her volunteering as a bereavement facilitator, training for her next triathlon, or practicing her serious carpool karaoke game.

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  1. Richard Brumby says

    Dear Carol,
    I am greatly in awe of you and all you do. In particular your latest mission in Africa with others is clearly a wonderful experience and beneficial to both your a party and to those you meet and connect with.
    I hope your climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro is safe and successful. 5894 metres or 19340 feet appears very high to me. Take it steady! Be guided by those who know. Gay was delighted to see you in Germany albeit at a sad occasion. I look forward to hearing of your safe descent from the Mountain! All good wishes, Richard & Gay

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