The Five C’s of Connection

by | Aug 13, 2020

Listen to an audio recording of this blog post.

Years ago, I named a progression of interpersonal connection, the ways we connect with another. Shown above, the progression moves from control over, to co-creating with. It moves from armored separation, to fluid unification. With each stage, the quality of connection expands and improves, generating more and more potential, positive feelings and goodwill.

There is much to say about this simple evolution of connection. Please stay in this conversation with me. I’ll begin with a frame to lean on, providing room to explore, while feeling and practicing different ways of connecting.

Control: has an aggressor and one who is oppressed. 1 + 1 is all mine.

Competition: the relentless soup of comparison with another. Zero sum game.
1 + 1 = 1

Cooperation: invites progress, my part meets your part and we solve a problem.
1 + 1 = 2

Collaboration: softens the distance of two, as connection emerges new possibilities. 1 + 1 = 3

Co-Creation: a fluid, dynamic rhythm, among and with. Motivation leads from the heart and nothing is left out. There are no numbers to measure a result, but an opening to more of why we are here: to create as one, in a cycle of Life – creating, sustaining, destroying.

With our frame, let’s ground in our individual experience thus far. How we typically connect, our “center of gravity” if you will, reflects the brine that we were pickled in as children, young adults, and maturing adults. Our families of origin, our school systems, our culture and more, all deposited herbs and hot peppers into the brine we steeped. Unless we consciously choose, we remain here – engaging with others as if this were the only way. 

With practice and insight, we can make better choices, connecting in deeply satisfying and generative ways. You are not alone. You are not damaged. There is no problem. You do have a way of connecting and one or two of the stated ways feel most familiar. Specific groups typically call forth a particular way of connecting.

For example, I was steeped in a control/competition brine in my birth family. My parents did their best raising four kids born within seven years, using power over us and encouraging competition among us. My parents are recently deceased. Connecting with my grown siblings to manage their estate affairs, the old familiar experience that feels tight, feeds fear, and cultivates separation rather than connection has returned. We have experienced moments of cooperation for sure. And even though I want a deeper connection, the energy and force of control and competition consumes precious energy when I revert to that old way of connecting. 

Money has steeped in the brine of control and competition. 

Take a breath. Take a moment. Consider how control and competition are familiar to you.

Where in your life do you connect with control and competition?
How does your relationship with money reflect control and competition?
What do you notice inside your body? Sensations, pressure, temperature.
Where does control and competition live in your body?
Breathe deep and let’s move along.

My business, Colman Knight Advisory Group, began in the space of cooperation and collaboration over thirty years ago. My partner in work and life was willing to collaborate with me, guided by the motivation to do better by offering real financial planning. Cooperation and collaboration grew our company. Success supported our individual and collective development so that when we dipped in the brine of control or competition, because we all dip and that’s okay, we were able to recognize a better way of connection that would serve our deeper motivation.

Our firm today continues to operate in this solid healthy space of cooperation and collaboration. I might wish we soared in Co-Creativity. But mostly I am grateful and deeply appreciative of the people I work with who are open and willing to experience and nurture cooperation and collaboration so well. Many organizations do not connect in this way.

Money is capable of supporting people’s dreams through cooperation and collaboration. 

Consider financing an automobile, or a home. Cooperative actions enable obtaining a loan or mortgage. Collaboration might make the experience of financing the car or home more joyful, easeful and rewarding.

Take a breath. Take a moment. Consider how cooperation and collaboration are familiar to you.
Where in your life do you connect with cooperation and collaboration?
How does your relationship with money reflect cooperation and collaboration?
What do you notice inside your body? Sensations, pressure, temperature.
Where does cooperation and collaboration live in your body?
Breathe deep and let’s move along.

Co-Creation is a circular development beginning with the ability to be alone with our self. Recognizing our unique gifts, we feel joy and inspiration at the potential of expressing these gifts in the world. In that expression, we might meet another who matches us. Co-creation is the melding of two energies that inform each other, in service of the motivation to co-create. In co-creation the space is vast for many flavors of expression, not excluding pickled hot brine, because the errors of judgment, aggression, avoidance if they arise – flow without sticking, through the connection.

A few examples and experiences of co-creation emerge for me. My children are a co-creation. Much of my writing self-emerges as co-creation. A few precious people offer sweet co-creative connection for me. But on the whole, most of us, do not inhabit co-creative space 24/7. Maybe we are lucky if it is 50% of our waking hours. 

 It is rare for money to abide in co-creative space.  

Innovation, steeped in generosity, and with a broad view, are required ingredients to enter monetary co-creative space. So, what happens? First, we feel – viscerally feel – our sufficiency, our good fortune, our precious life and the gifts we are meant to offer. Then, we recognize that others do not enjoy the same good fortune. With motivation and realization, our conduct follows generous action so that we are willing to co-create for the benefit all of life. This generative connection results in monetary co-creation.  

Take a breath. Take a moment. Consider how co-creativity is familiar to you.
Where in your life do you connect with co-creativity?
What do you notice inside your body? Sensations, pressure, temperature.
Where does co-creativity live in your body?

I have a massive dream. 
In writing now, I realize that I have never named it as such. 

I dream of a world where we are co-creative masters, 
and money flows in service of our collective co-creativity.
 

When we all abide in our creative right as humans, sufficiency and generosity flow—because we are each living our potentials, bringing the height of well-being and joy to everyone and everything.

Co-Creating,


Be Moved to Practice

Keeping with the theme of this month, the Five C’s of Connection, I offer a minute of viewing rocks and water connecting in different ways. Rocks are hard and water is wet. What is it like for these two elements to meet each other? How are the connections you view controlling, competing, cooperative, collaborative or co-creative?

Watch the video more than once and at least twice, once from the perspective of being water and once from the perspective of being the rock.

I am wondering a lot about connection these days. I do not have any answers for you but a place for your own investigation and discovery. These are my wonder questions I bring to this video:

In what situations and with whom is it beneficial to be hard like a rock and co-create?
In what situations and with whom is it beneficial to be fluid like water and co-create?
Where and with whom is connecting like a rock harmful?
Where and with whom is connecting like water harmful?
How can we move skillfully away from control and competition?

What are your wonder questions?

We will pick up on these ways of connecting again in September.


Deepening Practice

Earlier this month I introduced you to five ways of connecting – from control to co-creativity. I suggested you view the one-minute water sit with these questions in mind.

In what situations and with whom is it beneficial to be hard like a rock and co-create?
In what situations and with whom is it beneficial to be fluid like water and co-create?
Where and with whom is connecting like a rock harmful?
Where and with whom is connecting like water harmful?
How can we move skillfully away from control and competition?

Let’s go deeper, with an intention to move one step away from the spot we typically occupy, closer to co-creativity. Pick an important relationship. Meaning, a relationship that matters to you, and that you want to consistently relate closer to co-creativity. Define the center of gravity of your current relating pattern. Now, move one place to the right. This is your inspiration. In my experiment I am moving from cooperation to collaboration.

In my example, I feel the rough edges of cooperation. We connect cooperatively really well and our interactions are pleasant, constructive yet clumsy sometimes. We have moments of much more ease and yes, we have tasted co-creativity. With my intention and attention, I welcome practice to give us an opportunity to connect more collaboratively, consistently.

Bringing my person inside my heart – warming our connection and filling my belly with breath to center, I watch the video. First, I watch with me as the rock and my person as the water; and a second time with me as the water and my person as the rock.

Here’s what happened in my practice:

First round (the current way: Cooperation). Being water, I felt the effort of trying. My breath was short and body dense. Being rock was harder because I have a story that my rock is rigid, not mature and healthy, but prickly and pointy. So instead of meeting a solid strong substance one meets a dart.

Second round (the new way: Collaboration). Being water, I felt more ease experiencing the lively dance of water moving in and around the rock. Being rock, I noticed a shift from rigidity to strength. My spine felt elongated and energy was moving up my back. I felt both relaxed and grounded.

Your turn.


The Practice

Read the instructions below and then start the video. After watching the video once as a reminder, turn the volume on silent so that you are not distracted by my voice.

  1. Bring your person to mind and settle your person in your heart. Take a big belly and heart breath.
  2. From your current way of connecting, watch the video twice: once as the rock, and once as the water. Notice how you feel in your body after each viewing.
  3. From your aspired way of connecting, watch the video twice: as the rock, and as the water. Notice how you feel in your body after each viewing.
  4. Compare and contrast both experiences.
  5. Repeat the above steps with another person if you desire.
  6. Reflect on the questions below, either journaling or contemplating on a leisurely walk.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What was my biggest a-ha, or surprise?
  2. What stories or beliefs did I have about being water, and about being rock, and connections with each? For example, do I typically associate rock as being stronger than water? Or, water as being more fun and creative than rock?
  3. What does it require of me to improve my way of connecting? More water or more rock or both?
  4. What do different situations require of me to connect the way I aspire?
  5. How do I feel and respond with my body awareness in these situations?

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