The magic that can change the world.

This month we are pleased to share a truly inspiring story from Anthony Hehir, Vice President Global Talent Acquisition at DSM.

We asked Anthony what he would like to share with other leaders and what matters in this constantly challenging world that we are living in. Without the need to pause or consider his answer, Anthony told us that “it is the ability to authentically connect as human beings.”

Such real and undeniably human connections move something in me that is hard to describe. Every time I experience such connection with someone, I feel like a small highway opens up between us, and that person remains forever a light bulb in my life. With more and more inter-connected light bulbs around the world and across barriers, we can start to benefit from the one thing we all share: being human. First and foremost, human beings with the one thing in common that matters: our ability to leverage that real connection. I truly believe that human connection gives us the ability to really and truly connect, enabling us to collaborate, thereby contributing to something bigger than ourselves, and ultimately creating change that can move mountains. When I see or feel a human connection, I am moved to look for it more, to put my authentic self vulnerably and fully forward even when it’s scary. Because it is worth it every single time.” 

Anthony told us a story that we wanted to share with our REAL. Leadership community on how connecting as human beings is essential for all of us, regardless of age or where we live.

“In 2017 I was in Uganda with one of our nutrition partners, visiting moms and children who receive life-changing vitamin supplements from them. The chance to spend a full week away from the normality of my day to day world, and just take the time immerse myself in meeting, learning from, and understanding the lives, hopes and fears of women, men and children living a life so different from my own, was a gift that I cannot easily describe with words. 

During one of the visits, while we were sitting perched under a beautiful big tree talking with a mom and her husband, Charles (one of our fellow travellers), decided to catch the attention of the family‘s 13 year old son. He grabbed a few pieces of A4 paper out of his backpack, sat down outside against the wall of the family home and started to build paper planes with the boy. Without exchanging any words, they worked together, the boy carefully observing and copying every move Charles made in the construction of the paper planes. Then they ventured into the yard and flew them to and from each other for a good 30mins while we continued our chat with the family. There they played whole-heartedly under the hot sun, two complete and utter strangers with seemingly nothing in common. Charles, a twenty-something Taiwanese-Canadian from Vancouver, and a 13 year old boy from a settlement in northern Uganda. They shared no common ground in language, culture, race, age, geography, nationality, socio-economic status or life experience. Yet none of that mattered. Instead they communicated purely and only as human beings, sharing a very deep-rooted and real human connection, which transcends any barrier we choose to build as people. What I was watching in front of me was immense, and affirmed my strongly held belief that if we set aside our societal labels, and instead focus on authentically connecting as human beings, that‘s when we make the kind of the magic that can change the world. For Charles and that young boy, their time spent together will be etched in both of their memories forever, and gave them both something only true connection can give: a sense meaning and belonging. 

If we set aside our societal labels, and instead focus on authentically connecting as human beings, that‘s when we make the kind of the magic that can change the world.”

A version of this article was previously published on LinkedIn.

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