By Matt Ellis on 30 November 2018
It is my strong belief that our value as people is exponentially greater than the sum of our achievements. However, I often find myself gaging my personal worth on how productive I have been or how much I have achieved. This can create tension in my mind when I have choices to make and sadly I will often choose to be transactional with people rather than relational.
This is something that I noticed when I was a Primary School Principal. Most times when my phone would ring the conversation I would have would be transactional. There would often be a problem to solve or something to do. The same applied when I was making calls myself, I would be requesting the services of others to do something for me.
Obviously, it is part of being an adult and having responsibilities in life that you would expect to have more of these kinds of conversations. Though, I have found unless you make intentional decisions to do so, your space for meaningful relationships that require more than just completing tasks and being productive, get pushed to the side.
At age twenty-one, I moved away from my friends and family in Sydney and spent some time living in Broken Hill in Far West NSW. I am showing my age here but at the time, I did not have the Internet at my house and just prior to leaving some friends helped me to set up a Hotmail account. As needed, I would venture into town and spend some time at the local Internet Café to send and receive emails. This was clearly not my main method of communication with my friends in Sydney.
It would take some planning but to stay in touch I did the unthinkable. I would make time to call my friends and just chat. I thoroughly enjoyed these conversations and they were always relational. They were an opportunity to speak freely and share ideas. We were never working on anything and there were no tasks to complete, it was just time to connect and enjoy each other’s company.
Fast forward nearly twenty years and now I have a lot going on in my life but I have a desire to start really connecting again. Not just surface level interactions via social media (which I admit are better than not connecting at all) or phoning my mate who knows about computers when I have an Internet issue. My aim is to start making space once a week to phone a friend and have a real conversation.
It may mean blocking out twenty minutes in our day and it may mean we have less time for social media. However, I am convinced that life is better when we are connecting with others in meaningful ways and when we start to see that we are valuable because of who we are rather than what we have achieved. Who knows we may even become more productive as a result.
So why not give it a go? Everyone is busy and we could all find excuses not to. I also realise some people prefer to meet face to face and I would encourage that as well. Just make it happen because people matter, you matter.
Matt Ellis has a desire to help people see the best in themselves and to reach their potential. A lifelong passion for cricket has seen him utilise the skills he has developed as a Primary School Principal to help inspire the next generation of participants in Australia’s favourite sport. Matt is a dedicated family man, married to Erinn for eleven years and the father of two boys.