Everyone who knows me knows how much I love college football! There is just something special about football. And this past Friday I understood one of the reasons for my love of the game.

My daughter is in the marching band for high school so I attend high school football games on Friday nights. This season our team is kicking butt!

As I was sitting among Bloomingdale Bulls fans I was so encouraged by what I experienced. We were all of one accord. Tall, short, black, white, old, young, men, women……you get the picture. There was no political agenda or racial division, there wasn’t “us against them” (well, it WAS our team against their team), but those of us on the “red sea” side of the stadium were together.

During those few hours on a Friday night, we were not strangers. We were fans and friends. We didn’t have to know anything about the people around us to feel connected to them. We were together for a reason. We had a shared goal and purpose for our presence on a Friday night when we could have been anywhere else in the world. We choose and WANTED to be right there among “friends”. Otherwise known as “The Red Sea”

We were high fiving with folks around us. Commiserating about the ref’s terrible calls (there were a couple of dumb flags thrown). There was one play in particular that we recovered a fumble deep in our territory and then ran it in for a 57-yard touchdown!

All at once the whole stadium of high school parents, students and supporters were on our feet jumping up and down and cheering for our boys on the field. This happened several times during the game and it really helped me realize how much more we are alike than we are different. It also showed me how powerful a community can be! (We won 33-24 for an [as yet] undefeated season). The stadium shook, the crowd stood in unity as we lent our hearts and voices to the boys on the field.

After the game, the rowdy student section filed out of their seats, jumping and chanting and stood at the end of the field awaiting the players to be released so they could all cheer together. It didn’t matter who played or who was cheering, the students were one. They were a community, they didn’t divide themselves into popular and unpopular or nerds and jocks (yes, I know I’m showing my age here).

The students were unified in their jubilance! They were united and felt completely part of something great, even though none of them were on the field. They all piled together and chanted for our team.

When we got home, my daughter was giddy. She felt like the band was a part of the win! One of her friends said it was one of the best nights of her life. My daughter talked about cheering for the touchdowns and that the kids around her explained what was going on during the plays (she’s a softball player, doesn’t know much about football). They explained first downs, penalties, extra points, and field goals. There was no shame in not understanding, there was excitement to how the game works.

Why am I sharing this story? (other than I’m super proud of our hometown team) I recently read Brene Brown Braving the Wilderness when she shares the idea that people are hard to hate up close. We are all so much the same but we divide ourselves based on biases that make us feel somehow “right”.

Have you ever been to a football game, concert, church where you felt truly a part of something bigger than yourself? How spectacular is that feeling?

How can you bring that feeling into your everyday life?

Find something that connects you to other people around you. Is it football? Is it a great local place for dinner? Is it a book you just read? There are so many things to talk about that can help you connect to people around you. One way I have found that engages people is to compliment them, and this should be genuine, (don’t blow sunshine, that never works). But if they are wearing something fun, tell them. My daughter always notices eyebrows and fingernails. You should see faces light up (cashiers especially) when she comments on either of those.

If you work from home FIND A COWORKING SPACE. There is something to be said for getting out of your house and working among a community of people who are united in their desire to succeed. It’s always great to be around other people because you can share ideas and get ideas.

Stay curious (like the most interesting man in the world, but I think he says stay thirsty). If you simply stay curious without adding your own bias to what is being shared there is no end to ways you can connect to every person in your business community.

There is so much anger, so much division around issues but when we are standing together as one and identify together in humanity, it is ok to be utterly different yet united in a purpose and goal.