Earlier this year, Prime Minister Teresa May of Great Britain, made an unusual cabinet selection. (You’ll be happy to know that it had nothing to do with Brexit or with Russian collusion). Rather she appointed a Minister of Loneliness. Yes, loneliness. Inquiring minds might ask, why? She was merely recognizing the growing crisis of disconnection experienced by numbers of people in the developed world. In PathNorth, we explore the unintended consequences of success, out of which can sadly be disconnection from others. Such pain is even more pronounced among leaders, as we shall see.
Decades back, the writer Thoreau described the pain of loneliness, and it has only become worse: “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” Yes, it is often quiet and hidden and then can explode in shocking ways, like suicide, which is now the highest on record. There were twice the number of suicides than homicides in America last year. Jarring, yet rarely discussed.
The former Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, identified loneliness, rather than smoking or obesity, as the top national health concern in our nation. For leaders, the problem is compounded. According to an INC magazine survey several years back, over half of three thousand CEOs who were interviewed, self-reported that they were isolated and lonely. Of that fifty percent, sixty-seven percent said they were making poor decisions due to their isolation. This is real, my friends.
Attached, find a short piece by David Cordani, the CEO of Cigna, a global health company. It is a striking article that describes the reality of loneliness in the workplace, suggesting what employers can do to address this challenge. Take a look and let me know what you think.
In the meantime, reach out to those you care about and dare to ask the ‘friend’ question that probes deeper than niceties. We are all more alike than different and we all need help and care on this life journey…‘how are you really doing.’