Reflections on Innovative Connections
by our CEO, Laurie Cure
We often find ourselves at a threshold or crossroads. Those intersections and moments where we are clearly and distinctly called into a new future. Something must change and we have no choice but to enter into the unknown and pursue the calling. There are times when we can see the path with utmost clarity and others when we step blindly into the dark, knowing that the path will appear with each step we take.
I’ve held the vision for Innovative Connections for most of my adult life. The belief that, as people and as leaders, we can grow, emerge, and become better for ourselves, others, and the world is a driving force behind our work. I’ve always been clear about my desire to create a consulting company that could be in deep partnership with other businesses and leaders to bring forth new ways of being.
Like many of us, when the calling first occurred, I ignored it. I allowed my fears and, frankly, the fears of others close to me to cloud my purpose. I drowned out the voice inside me and asked it to come back another day. At the time, I had just taken what felt like a huge leap into something new. Against the advice of many mentors and family members, I stepped out in a new direction— one that, looking back, was the start of a beautiful journey. It seemed that move created plenty of ripples and I needed to pause for a bit and let the waters calm before heeding the next calling.
However, as we know, the knock on the door persists. I was pursuing my doctorate at the time and actively beginning to research the topic of emotions and fear. I was in my own Petri dish ready to emerge. It didn’t take long for me to realize I must begin to more aggressively manage my own fears. And there were many:
What if I fail?
What if I lose my financial security?
What if I prove right those who strongly believe this is the wrong choice?
What if I lose people I love and are connected to because they don’t understand?
What if I leap and have no way of returning?
But then the greater fears began to take over:
What if I never fully step into my potential?
What if I disappoint myself by not following my passion?
What if by not pursuing this path, I fail others at an even greater level?
With that, in 2008—at the beginning of “the great recession”—I stepped out and launched Innovative Connections. My timing was not ideal, but what I discovered was profound. They say, “when the student is ready, the teacher will emerge.” What I found to be true was that opportunities presented themselves, wise and supportive mentors appeared out of nowhere, and great collaborative partners showed up to be a part of our team. The people that mattered most were right by my side, steadfast and fearless.
I often use a “Mario” metaphor to describe this part of the journey. Those of us old enough to remember the early days of the video game will recall that there was a level where Mario entered a dark cave and had to navigate over the deep crevasse of a cliff. It was dark, but with each step he dared to take, a stone-stepper shot in from the side to provide solid footing and a path to walk across the abyss.
My learning was that, when you hear the calling, you must say“yes”and the rest will fall into place. The path appears if we call upon it, see it, and trust it.
At Innovative Connections, we are able to span impossibilities. We partner with organizations and leaders to lift people up to become their best selves—the best leaders and the best human beings they can possibly be. We help people let go of inaccurate and irrelevant stories to make that happen. And as a result, they lead more effectively and achieve greater results for themselves, the people they lead, and their organizations.
My intention in starting Innovative Connections was to create a space for our team members’ individual talents, gifts, and strengths to manifest in their work, and that their work, in turn, would help others do the same. We’ve been able to achieve that very thing. Our work helps the organizations, teams, and individuals that we partner with to unleash something they might not know they had, or to show up in a new, bigger way. Our work seems to enable something to happen that otherwise would not. And it comes from the core of who we are and how we show up.
The place of brilliance in ourselves is where we can call out the corresponding brilliance in others. We hold that mirror for them, so they can find it in themselves.
Each of us on this team steps into and through our own fears and deals with our own emotions. Then we can hold the space that enables others to illuminate and confront their own fears so they can show up in the world authentically, with their whole selves, moving into their greatest potential–whatever that might be for them. Sometimes it might start with a little baby step in a new direction, and other times it’s dizzying transformation all at once.
You might read this and think it sounds “soft” and unachievable. Or you might be asking yourself, “what does this actually mean and how could it possibly support me as a leader, or improve my organization?” I assure you, it is this very approach that allows us to uniquely and brilliantly move organizations to results they desire. It is this philosophy that will partner with you to move mountains.
“We give voice and action to an emerging future.”
Innovative Connections is a relationship-based consulting model. We do not step in and tell people what to do; rather, as a partner, we enable and create space for our clients to imagine possibilities. We bring forward experience and expertise in organizational development to help you find your voice, see your vision, and imagine what the right action for the future could be. Then we co-create the steps that can bring it about. We help you discover what you already know, deep down, to be true and create the future that you know exists and is possible.
A huge part of the value we bring as consultants is our external objectivity and neutrality. We are able to say things, to tell the truth in a way that people inside an organization often don’t have the freedom to do. We listen to stories and observe what is happening, looking for the subtle dynamics and watching for what’s not being said. Our ability to bring the truth forward can enable leaders to have new self-awareness and grow in unexpected ways.
“Cultures don’t change until people change.”
Cultures don’t exist without the leaders and the employees in context. So if you don’t like your culture, you’ve got to shift how people are experiencing themselves and one another–and how they’re showing up to work together.
“Because our work changes people at the core, that changes the organizational culture at the core.”
You’ve got to be ready for it, because this is not an easy journey. It often gets harder and more chaotic before it gets better. But it is truly the essence of transformation. We can prime the readiness in new ways, but we don’t force it when the readiness does not exist. You can’t–it doesn’t work that way. So while we enter in with a plan, an agenda, a curriculum, and evidence-based models, we’re always poised to pivot and flex—to meet the unique needs in the moment of a coaching client, a cohort, or a company. We are constantly asking, are they ready for this? Do we need to pull back? Or are they hungry and asking for more, wanting to be pushed? Assessing that is part of our gift.
Sometimes we’ll be contracted for a certain body of work. But when we get in there, we realize that what we’ve been engaged to do is not at all what’s called for. Sometimes business structures can be confining, but we’ll always advocate for navigating and adapting to elevate the whole. We’re not fixed on the roadmap—we’re focused on the destination.
When we design a proposal to collaborate with a new client, our intention is to create a high-level, long-term partnership. We’re never driving to “close a deal;” rather, we’re striving for a genuine, relational fit between their organization and ours. This approach begins to build trust from the onset. And because we come in with a coaching mindset, we’re able to co-design not only creative interventions, but also sustainable solutions. We set our clients up to carry the work successfully forward, not to flounder and revert, when the engagement ends.
We hope you’ll find something that sparks your interest here on our website. When you do, please get in touch.