Greetings. One of the great joys of summer is the time we spend in a small village on the west coast of Sweden. Here along the North Sea we visit with family and friends, kayak, fish, hike along the rocky cliffs, pick mushrooms, berries, and mussel shells, experiment with new and creative recipes using our favorite local ingredients, and swim in beautiful and refreshing water that is remarkably warm given our location at 58.33 degrees north (roughly the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska). It’s warmth is a gift from the gulf stream and the twenty-plus hours of sunlight on most days that is part of Sweden’s magic this time of year.
And we also try to understand and appreciate the habits and traditions of the people who live here throughout the year…habits and traditions that have been shaped by geography, culture, history, the calendar, the weather (without question the primary topic of conversation here), and the very nature of being human in a world constantly reshaped by technology. And one of my favorite habits and traditions here in this peaceful corner of the country that gave us Skype, Spotify, and a bunch of other online innovations is the act of going to the mailbox (or mailboxes) along the main road at 10:30 every weekday morning when the postman or postwoman arrives. It is an event that provides an opportunity to connect with neighbors, talk about the weather, and to hope for an actual letter from a close friend or relative somewhere in Sweden or half way around the world.
It’s also an event that most of us miss in our faster-paced lives. Lives filled with emails and text messages in which we rarely take the time to write a real letter filled with experiences, meaning, emotion, hopes, dreams, questions worthy of thoughtful answers, possibilities, and real friendship. Letters filled with words that come from the heart and that offer a powerful commitment to be more open and more fully connected with someone else’s life.
Too many of us seem to have lost this ability to actually communicate in our personal and our work lives. To get beyond sharing facts or links, making essential arrangements, and handling necessary transactions. This ability to put pen to paper in the hope of building stronger connections and deeper relationships. And, as a result, we’ve lost a wonderful part of what it means to be alive and present for as little as ten perfect minutes every week day.
It is something that the residents of a remarkable little village on the west coast of Sweden refuse to give up. No matter how strong their internet connection is, their desire to connect as humans will always be stronger.
And shouldn’t we be the same way in our companies, organizations, and the rest of our lives?
We win in business and in life when we take the time to communicate in ways that really matter. And when we nurture relationships that regularly bring us to the mailbox with a sense of community, joy, and possibilities.
P.S. In case you are wondering, our mailbox is the one on the left with the seagull on it…and we are anxiously awaiting your letter.