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The Connections That Keep Our Work Alive

  Steve Longan     Aug 27, 2014

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The following events took place a few miles from the Rewire offices recently:

“Off-duty firefighter Scott Brawner was working out in a suburban Portland gym this Spring, listening to Pandora, when suddenly the music stopped.

An app on his phone warned him that someone nearby needed CPR. Brawner reportedly raced around the gym, trying to find the victim, before heading to the parking lot, where he saw a man sprawled on the pavement. He began giving the man CPR until fire and rescue units showed up.”

— Amy Schatz, "Life-Saving Crowdsourcing App Expands Reach to Stop Cardiac Arrests"

The Oregonian goes on in its reporting of this event to say that the victim of the cardiac arrest, Drew Basse, will make a full recovery thanks to the quick intervention on his behalf by Mr. Brawner. This is wonderful news and a great story about a gifted person coming to the aid of someone in desperate need. It's also about the power of technology to not only improve life, but, in this case, contribute to saving a life.

As I read this story, though, I was struck by one particular part of it: what was it like for everyone else in the gym? Can you imagine if you were working out at that gym when all this happened? There you are on the elliptical machine, getting in your cardio, when a man starts frantically racing around the gym while waving and pointing at his phone.  Or maybe you’re in the weights area when he runs up to you and asks if you’ve seen someone grab their chest and fall to the ground. What would you do with that? Or maybe he forcefully interrupts the conversation you’re having with the gym manager to say, “Someone in this gym is dying and you’ve got to help me find them.”

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t know how to make sense of that. There is no way any of that seems like normal behavior and I’d probably respond to our off-duty firefighter like I would’ve responded to Keanu Reeves in Speed (“Hey man, I don’t know what you’re on, but the bus seems likes it’s doing just fine to me. Let’s all just settle down, okay?”).  But his behavior becomes perfectly reasonable and absolutely justified once we look through the lenses of Awareness and ConnectionIn fact, I am arguing here that looking through these lenses of awareness and connection empower so much of the good we want to do through our work.

In our story from above, the reason that Mr. Brawner is able to use his experience and be a hero is because he is aware of the people and dynamics around him in a way that no one else in the room was. And the way in which he was connected to the people around him allowed him to quickly take appropriate action in the moment.  He's not just connected as a fellow Portlander or weightlifter or gym patron; he was connected specifically as a potential first-responder to a medical emergency.

It might not be a matter of immediate life and death, but the same goes for our work:

  • If we are going to put our talent and experience toward accomplishing great things, we have got to develop an awareness of our environment and those around us.
  • If we are going to put our talent and experience toward accomplishing great things, we have got to pay attention to specifically how we are connected to those around us.

I will be quick to add that I know those last two points are not simple "check that off the to-do list" items. Whole books and careers are centered around these concepts. They take a lot of time and effort to develop in our work. It's one of the things we help people and companies with at Rewire. So, I'm well aware that it's not an easy thing I'm putting out there.  But if we're going to authentically connect to what drives us in our work; if we're going to recognize and appropriately seize on opportunities when they come, then we're going to get there by investing time, energy and attention to developing these dimensions of awareness and connection.

Cheers to growing awareness and connection into our work! Is there a piece of technology or an app that is helping you in your awareness of and connection to others in your work? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Steve Longan

Written by Steve Longan

Steve Longan is Rewire's Director of Research & Program Development. He's passionate about leveraging psychology and communication to develop growing, healthy workplaces. He's at "peak zen" (his words) when he's in his music studio.

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