What I mean by flair is “Latte Art”. This is the extraordinary design made by the Barista as they pour steaming milk into a latte drink. Come to find out there are competitions for Baristas showcasing this distinctive form of artwork.
Watching this artwork unfold in front of you is amazing. What goes from the simplest act of pouring hot milk into a mug quickly transforms into something beautiful as the artist creates subtle ripples into the top layer of the drink. The outcome is a piece of art that puts a smile on the face of each recipient.
As I glanced around my surroundings I made a few interesting observations. First, everyone who had latte art was showing off his or her design and, second, the place was packed with people talking. It seems this is the perfect hangout.
There has been some decent research on the need for a hangout. Or, better said, the need to be social. It seems we are wired to be social at some level. When we find ways to fill our social needs we flourish; when we neglect it we tend to show signs of stress.
At the end of the day it’s all about connecting. But, not just connecting to talk about the weather, while that is okay and sometimes needed, it is more often about connecting at a deeper level. Some know this while others are in denial that we all crave connection.
As I carefully watched my Barista prepare my Red Tea Latte I found myself wondering what would be my design. The drink order just before mine was a splendid heart design for a young lady. I seemed to develop a bit of anxiety thinking that my Latte Artist may only have one design in his arsenal. My fears were quickly washed away as a very manly leaf was painted into the top of a perfect Red Tea. As most do in this establishment, I snapped a picture with my phone to show this masterpiece off later.
Settling down in the lone overstuffed leather chair I positioned myself into a strategic spot to read, sip my latte, and do some people watching, all three of which rank high on my list of favorite things to do. Scanning the room of latte art lovers I made a quick observation, females out number the males in a big way.
The take-away would be that women are naturally more social then men. An unscientific survey certainly but not many men would argue with my quick findings.
That said, there is some science that cannot be overlooked. The Gallup Organization conducted a lengthy study on the social need we each have and its effects on our overall well-being.
It seems that our network of friends and family has a profound impact on our well-being. Friends that are happy more often than not directly impact our happiness. So, if you find your friends are always a downer be careful, you may find yourself down more than normal.
It’s interesting when you think about the research: we each have a need to connect, who we connect to has a great deal to do with how our day unfolds. The study also points out that we require six hours of social time a day for a healthy well-being.
As I finish off the last drop of my Red Tea I made some mental notes about connecting...
First, we each need a personal Board of Directors. Just as any organization has a Board of Directors to provide guidance, each of us need that team around us. Three should be the minimum and no more than twelve. For those of you that believe you have a Board in place do a check up on the health of those in your close network. Spend extended quality time with the healthiest members of your Board.
Second, plan to connect. While the spontaneous get together is great to fulfill our social need you need to have consistent connection. Never go more then a week without checking in with key members of your Board. On a more daily note, find time to connect with encouraging people more often during your day. Avoid the repeated "victim" conversations from others when possible.
Third, have a hangout. This doesn’t mean coffee shops are the only place to connect; just know that familiar ground provides a fertile environment for connection. The hangout also provides for quick, clear, focused communication between all parties which eliminates excuses for not connecting. It's comforting to say to my buddies, "See you there," and they know where there is. Side note: While virtual hangouts still meet the social criteria remember we have three communication filters: words, tone, and body language. Eyeball-to-eyeball is best, voice-to-voice is next best. Connecting digitally certainly works but can be overused. Pick up the phone when you can.
Finally, remember connecting is a two-way encounter. Always be aware that your encouragement may be what the other person needs. For the normal encounters that occur daily keep this one thought in mind, "love your neighbor as you love yourself." When you go into your day seeking to make others feel special you pour game-changing encounters into the lives of others. These encounters create ripples throughout the entire world!