How to Connect {Mark the Moment Series #5}

This is the final edition of How to Mark the Moment, a series based on Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. This week we look at the fourth element of how to create a powerful moment, “Moments of Connection.”

How to Connect

If you’ve ever felt disconnected from your work or a group or a friend, you know how uncomfortable it is. Sometimes you feel lost at how to reconnect.

But below is concrete advice from authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This is the fourth element from The Power of Moments:

Create moments of connection.

To Connect with a Group

  1. Create a synchronized moment in person

We are familiar with many of these: graduations, weddings, meetings. But we don’t have to wait for momentous occasions to create a moment. Just don’t do it with regular remote communication; share something together in person.

The book tells about a special hospital all-staff meeting assembly that was life-changing for the employees.

“The staffers who attended the All-Staff Assembly absorbed some critical messages from the situation: This is important. (Our leaders wouldn’t rent all the buses in a city for something mundane.) This is real. (They can’t back off the things they said when 4,000 of us heard them.) We’re in this together. (I see a sea of faces around me, and we’re all on the same team.) And what we’re doing matters. (We’ve recommitted ourselves to a purpose—caring for those in need—that is bigger than any of us.)”
– Chip Heath, Dan Heath

  1. Invite shared struggle

“If you want to be part of a group that bonds like cement, take on a really demanding task that’s deeply meaningful. All of you will remember it for the rest of your lives.”

We can likely all relate to this. Maybe it was a church mission trip overseas. Or walking alongside a family through tough times. Or an important school project.

“People will choose to struggle—not avoid it or resist it—if the right conditions are present. The conditions are: The work means something to them; they have some autonomy in carrying it out; and it’s their choice to participate or not.”

  1. Connect to meaning

Groups need to be reminded of their true purpose. It’s easy to forget it in the day-to-day minutiae.

The book differentiates in particular between passion and purpose. Which would you think is more critical?

While we prefer to have both passion and purpose, studies show that purpose inspires us the most.

“The outcome is clear. Purpose trumps passion. Graduation speakers take note: The best advice is not “Pursue your passion!” It’s “Pursue your purpose!” (Even better, try to combine both.)

Passion is individualistic. It can energize us but also isolate us, because my passion isn’t yours. By contrast, purpose is something people can share. It can knit groups together.”

When purpose seems lacking, it’s important to dig deeper for meaning. Ask yourself a series of “why’s”: why you joined the group in the first place, why it was formed, and why it should continue. Then ask another layer of why after why until you get to the root of your purpose.

To Connect with an Individual

  1. Be responsive

A critical element in healthy relationships is responsiveness.

“Our relationships are stronger when we perceive that our partners are responsive to us.”

Responsiveness means:

  • we feel understood,
  • we feel validated,
  • and we feel cared for.

And vice versa.

A doctor in the book is quoted as asking her patients not just, “What’s the matter?” but “What matters to you?” The responses can be quite different and intensely meaningful.

It doesn’t have to take years for a relationship to become intimate. It can happen in a short period of time with the right moments.

  1. Take turns

The book recommends this 36 Questions app (I haven’t looked at it) from Art Aron’s 36 Questions experiment. By taking turns asking and openly responding to a series of questions over the course of an hour, even total strangers can develop a real connection.


“Responsiveness coupled with openness leads to intimacy. It happens via ‘turn-taking.’”

Benefits of Connection

By taking the time to intentionally engage in meaningful moments, almost all relationships can improve.

It doesn’t take special get-aways or skills or money, but just a willingness and effort to take action.

Because we all want to hear this . . .

“This is important. This is real. We’re in this together. And what we’re doing matters.”

* * *

Who do you need to reconnect with this week? Please share in the comments.


The Four (EPIC) Elements of Marking the Moment:

26 thoughts on “How to Connect {Mark the Moment Series #5}

  1. Debbie Putman

    Wow, Lisa, this is quite a book! My husband, Van, always makes sure we have what he calls “face time” when life seems to take us in different directions. Those moments of connection in the middle of too busy are much needed and keep us moving together.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Van sounds like a wise husband! I’m grateful that Jeff is the same way. He is often better at catching those “we need face time” moments than I am. We are blessed.

  2. bethany mcilrath

    So much excellent food for thought, Lisa! Thank you! I especially like the point that purposes trumps passion and the example of a doctor switching the question. I’ve seen both of these occur, and they are true!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I loved both those points, too, Bethany. I didn’t really know which would be the answer: passion or purpose. But once they explained it, it definitely made sense. I’m not always passionate about what I have to do, but if I know it’s for a good purpose, I’ll get it done anyway (and often the passion follows!).

  3. Michele Morin

    I appreciate the notion of connecting around a struggle. We tend of avoid struggle, but it’s so healthy and productive to wrestle with an idea, and I can see how this would forge strong connections.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Given the choice, I’d avoid struggles altogether. 🙂 But we all have examples of how struggles have brought a family or a group or a church together. One of those crazy truths in life!

  4. Beth

    I’m a part of certain groups led by others and lead several groups, Lisa. This gives me so much thought-provoking directions to consider the health and vitality of those groups. There are things that are missing or feel “flat” in certain groups I’m a part of and this explains why. It is challenging me to consider upping my leadership game, for sure. I also love how a simple change of wording can mean so much more interest and value is being communicated–from “What’s the matter?” to “What matters to you?” Thanks for this insightful post, my friend! I’ll be sharing!

  5. Trudy

    Interesting insight in this series, Lisa. The idea of purpose trumping passion makes a lot of sense. I LOVE how the doctor asks her patients “What matters to you?” A much deeper connection. Her patients must feel more validated and cared for. Love and hugs to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I’d like for a doctor to ask me that question! ha. I have an ENT doc who might, but most other doctors I see are too busy to take time for that. It’s a reminder to me to not be too busy myself to ask others that. Blessings to you, Trudy!

  6. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Interesting serendipity for me, be cause I’m losing connexion, purpose, and meaning. I recently got to see myself through the eyes of someone close, and it was devastating. All that I had thought worthwhile was dismissed as irrelevant or worse. Too many dogs, too much PTSD, too sick, and not really worth keeping alive.

    It did a job on me, and there are some kinds of connexion I shall avoid like poison. But I’ll never be quite the same again; the source was both trusted and smart, and there are things from which you don’t come all the way back.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sounds like a very hard pill to have to swallow, Andrew. Maybe you need to throw it up. Those accusations about your worth aren’t based on truth. You’ve spread a lot of wisdom around the blogging world; I can attest to that personally. You definitely have purpose both among people and among canines. You’re valuable.

  7. Jill

    Insightful and interesting thoughts here, Lisa. I’m marking this to come back to as connection is such an integral part of any relationship. Thanks for sharing, glad I stopped by today!

  8. Lois Flowers

    This is really interesting, Lisa. Do you think maybe purpose also trumps passion because passion is tied so much more to emotions? I may not feel passionate about something (or someone) all the time, but if there’s a deeper purpose driving me, I’m more likely to stick with it, I think. I also like the idea of asking, “What matters to you?” rather than, “What’s the matter?”

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You might be right on target, Lois. Our emotions do tend to ebb and flow, so it’s best not to depend on them for our sole motivation. But our purpose is more likely to stay constant, if we can just maintain our awareness of it. Thanks for the insight!

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