Connection is at the Heart of Community and Human Flourishing.

May 4, 2024

Connection is at the Heart of Community and Human Flourishing.

May 29, 2023

Chip’s Thought: It takes a lot of work to create MEA since we’re winging it as there aren’t that many models for a midlife wisdom school. On a challenging day, I’ll pull out Rob and Angie’s guest blog post as a reminder for why we do this. Thanks.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

- Wayne Gretzky

The Modern Elder Academy is many things to people. It creates a forum for ideas and opportunities based on bringing together like-minded souls. The three foundational elements of the Academy — navigating transitions, cultivating purpose, and owning wisdom—are facilitated on the premise of the power of connecting others to reveal aspects of our authentic selves. 

Whether you have participated in online courses, traveled to Baja, or are planning a pilgrimage to Santa Fe, the connection is the lifeline of this movement.

Connection is a foundational requirement for human flourishing and optimal levels of intrinsic motivation. Optimal levels of motivation are tied to balance and mastery in three specific areas: 1) autonomy – independence/agency to make choices for oneself; 2) competence – the ability to do a task/function correctly consistency; and 3) connection – meaningful levels of engagement with others, whether that is in service to others, or being served.

For many MEA alumni, a track record of high levels of competence and autonomy has led to success in various areas of life. The three foundational approaches (transitions, purpose, and wisdom) reflect this, as well as the needs accomplished individuals have as they experience life transitions. While connection is central to the success of the MEA experience, it is vital to our health and well-being. Studies continue to demonstrate that deficiencies in connection are tied to loneliness, several mental health conditions, and the development of numerous diseases.

During a recent trip to Southeast Asia, we witnessed the power of MEA connections. Since participating in a workshop at the Baja campus, we’ve maintained connections with our group, curiAWEsity. The kindness, generosity, and love from members prompted us to test our connection hypothesis—that like–mindedness and soul–anchored needs will enhance the quality and authenticity of the new relationship experience among compadres. 

While in Singapore (The Lion City), we were fortunate to have met with three MEA alums. However, this would never have happened without the assistance of MEA Alumni Director Leslie Bartlett. Leslie connected us with the APAC regional chapter, and we took a shot at reaching out to other MEA alums, without knowing how this would unfold. 

What we experienced in the two gatherings left us in AWE of moral beauty, generosity, connection, and community. Our new friends, Adrian, Melinda (and her husband Dane), and Sameer, quickly welcomed us to their community, and our conversations went deep fast. The quality of the conversations was familiar, just as we experience when catching up with a good friend from the past. However, the dialogue was much more rich. Unlike many friendships from the past, where we may have grown apart in interests, beliefs, and values, the conversations with our Singaporean compadres were warm, meaningful, and aligned with who we are and who we aspire to be. 

Much of our success with these connections and friendships is credited to the MEA team. However, we must also share credit with ourselves. We could have easily traveled to Singapore and kept to ourselves, not putting ourselves out there because of a fear of rejection, fear of stepping outside our comfort zone, or any other self-limiting belief. 

However, as the Wayne Gretzky quote reflects, we took a shot and scored. Because of a serendipitous moment of discovering MEA while walking the beach out front of the Baja campus a few years back, we had an outstanding experience in Singapore. The Lions Love the Lion City, and we will be back soon! We hope to see many of you in Santa Fe May 17-19!

-Rob and Angie Lion

Rob is a professor at Idaho State University, presently on sabbatical. His teaching and research focus on enhancing life satisfaction through thoughtful design of organization-specific actions. His sabbatical research brought him to Southeast Asia to meet with faculty and business leaders.

Angie is the owner and Chief Soul Officer of Black River Performance Management (www.blackriverpm.com), a boutique consultancy that helps organizations with their culture and people challenges. Outside of the organizational context, Angie dedicates her time to women empowerment events. Angie’s trip to Southeast Asia is part of her soulbatical®.

Both Rob and Angie can be reached at info@blackriverpm.com.

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