By Steve Moran
Loneliness is a problem not just for senior living residents; it is a leadership problem. Take a look at some statistics:
- Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 26%.
- Loneliness, living alone, and having poor social connections may be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
- Loneliness may be worse for you than obesity.
- Loneliness and social isolation are associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.
- Loneliness increases the risk of high blood pressure.
- Americans report fewer close friendships than ever.
- More than one in three Americans are lonely.
- 61% of younger people are lonely.
- You can be surrounded by people, even people you know, and feel lonely.
- Leaders, even great leaders, can suffer from loneliness.
I am someone who often feels lonely, and that is in spite of often being surrounded by people. Turns out that for many of us, most of us, it is not enough to be surrounded by strangers or even casual acquaintances/friends. The antidote is a few friends you are in regular contact with, who you trust and who trust you.
Inspiration for this article is a Wall Street Journal article titled “They Found a Radical Cure for Loneliness: the Phone Call” (may be behind a paywall).
It caught my attention because I find myself feeling lonely more often than I like, more often than I think I should.
This particular article is focused almost exclusively on women in the business world, but at least for me, there are some great lessons:
- Schedule some time for conversations with friends — phone, Zoom, and in-person. Shoot for one of each a week. Plan on an hour for each one.
- Book them on your calendar.
- Treat them as being as important as key performance indicators (KPIs).
- These are not business calls, though they can be with friends who are in business.
- Schedule them for times you are driving or walking the dog.
- Texting is not the same as making a phone call.
Figuring this out will make you happier, healthier, and a better leader.