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By Bob Bertsch

Professionals, like you, can make a difference through connection and collaboration. The Practicing Connection initiative is a place for ideas, inspiration, and information on building skills and creating connections that will help support the well-being of military and civilian families. It’s an exploration of the practices that empower us to work together to help each other, our families, and our communities improve our resilience and readiness. 

So, why should you join Practicing Connection?

Have you ever felt your work was like pushing a boulder up a hill each day only to watch it roll back down again? That was the punishment the mythical Sisyphus, king of Ephyra, suffered for cheating death twice and being a general trickster.  He was forced to push a huge rock up a hill, and just at the moment when the rock was about to topple over the crest and down the other side, it would turn back and roll down to where it had started.

The story of Sisyphus has come to represent a meaningless task, or more accurately, an ongoing, meaningless effort. In his essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” Albert Camus used the story as a metaphor for our futile search for meaning in a world without eternal truths, suggesting we are all like Sisyphus and we can only be happy once we accept that life is absurd and our struggle becomes its own reward. 

“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” – Albert Camus

It is tempting to read this passage as a reason to just accept our fate, focus on our individual work, and not worry whether we are making an impact. However, the universe should not seem so futile, because we are connected to things so much larger and smaller than ourselves. We are connected to the atoms of stone and mineral flakes that each form a world, and to everyone else in our Sisyphean pursuits. 

Given this view of Sisyphus, it’s not surprising that the myth has been used to describe social work (Roose R, Roets G, Bouverne-De Bie M., 2012), activism (Stolz, 2019), and other efforts toward positive change.

In the book, “Connect>Innovate>Scale Up,” the authors highlight examples of networks attempting to develop social innovations. They describe these networks as providing the “power of standing together, of putting hope into practice.” They contend that connecting people with each other and sharing experiences, knowledge, and stories “feeds hope and confidence. It guides thought and action. Most importantly, it proclaims something we all want to hear: you are not alone and you can make a difference.” 

When we feel like we are pushing a boulder up a hill each day only to watch it roll back down, words like “collaboration” and “networks” just sound like empty jargon. Instead, we need that feeling of connectedness and belonging. We need to feel our work is a part of something. We need to feel the hope that with time and with help the boulder will eventually reach the crest of the hill and not roll back down, even if we are not there to celebrate it.

It’s those feelings of connectedness, belonging, and hope that you will experience through Practicing Connection.

You are not alone. You can make a difference.

We invite you to join the Practicing Connection community to hear from practitioners, build your collaboration skills, and connect with others who want to make a difference!

Join us at


Camus, A., & O’Brien, J. (1991). The myth of Sisyphus, and other essays. 1st Vintage international ed. New York, Vintage Books.

Plastrik, P., Taylor, M., Cleveland, J. (2022). Connect > Innovate > Scale Up: How Networks Create Systems Change.

Roose, R., Roets, G., & Bouverne-De Bie, M. (2012). Irony and Social Work: In Search of the Happy Sisyphus. British Journal of Social Work, 42(8), 1592–1607.

Stolz, Kit. (2019, February 12).  Sisyphus and climate activism: the surprising truth.