Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:
- There are More than Seven Billion People in the World
- There are Six Degrees of Separation between People
The population of the world exceeds 7 billion people. That is a LOT of people – 7,000,000,000 or thereabouts! It is hard to imagine ourselves as simply just one of these 7 billion people. An image analogy could be a grain of sand in the Sahara desert. In this context, it would be easy to believe that we are independent actors on the world stage. However in 1929, Frigyes Karinthy hypothesized that everyone is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. Since that time there have been advocates and detractors for this hypothesis, and time may tell how accurate this hypothesis really is. However, there is no disputing that more and more we are interconnected. This interconnection occurs as: more companies are global in scope; more and more people travel for business and pleasure; and, of course, more people connect through Social Media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. There are many advantages to this interconnectedness; whether related to business (companies can take advantage of 24 hour days, cheaper labor…), personal reasons (vacations anywhere are now possible for many people…), or to broader social issues as now seen routinely both nationally and internationally (Velvet Revolution, Arab Spring….). Of course, as with all things, where there are advantages there also are disadvantages. These disadvantages include: the feeling in business at times that there is nowhere to escape; the personal feeling sometimes that a vacation is not a vacation unless one goes somewhere else; and the rapid dissemination of personal information through social media that perhaps people never really intended for a world-wide audience.
A good friend of mine had a personal experience of this interconnectedness some years back. He was travelling through Heathrow Airport one Friday, and met a mutual friend of ours in the departure lounge. She had married another one of our mutual friends a few years previously. They were chatting and he asked about her husband. She went on to explain that he hated his company, his boss, his job and so on. They parted later to catch their respective flights and met up again a few months later. At that time, she explained that he husband was called to his boss’s office the following Monday to be informed that he was fired as, “He hated the company, his boss and his job.” On that previous Friday the boss had been sitting back-to-back with my friends and heard the complete conversation.
The lesson that my friends learned that evening and one that we all should accept is that even with 7 billion people in the world we are interconnected (we are not independent actors on the world stage), whether it is six degrees of separation or something similar. Consequently we always need to be circumspect in what we say or do whether in person or on social media. Finding the right balance on this paradox continuum is not always easy; however it is necessary to accomplish this if one wants to be successful in this Global world.
- It’s a Small World. Don’t Make Enemies