Community Matters

Hi Friend,

I hope your month has been good and you’re making progress on your goals while still making time for friends and family because at the end of it all, it is the people in our lives who matter the most. In these days where “working from home” is the new normal, it’s so easy to get carried away “living at the office” though physically at home. Please remember to make time for those who are important to you.

For all those who actually left comments on the last post, THANK YOU! You guys are the real MVP’s; I appreciate the comments, please keep them coming. For those who didn’t, it’s never too late. Please tell me your thoughts at the end of this post.

This week, we discuss on “community”! While the word needs no introduction, I’ve curated this definition from several others. For this purpose, please consider community as “a group of the people who may or may not live in the same place, share similar characteristics/attributes or values; and want to achieve something together”. I like this definition because it captures key elements of “people”, “commonality of value” and “similar focus” which are key elements we sometimes don’t consider before hitching our wagons to various communities.

Several months ago, I wouldn’t have been writing this post as I couldn’t clearly see and articulate the benefits of communities due to my blurred lenses or “blurred binoculars” as I described it in the previous post. Now, I can say that I can see clearly after changing my binoculars.

While this phenomenon maybe all the rage today in some quarters with an increased adoption of the “global village” mindset; in places where this hasn’t sunk through – these words by Maya Angelou should guide our daily interactions: “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” While I researched this concept; I came to realize various fields have adopted the concept of communities into systems we’ve known all our lives. For instance, we can see it in organized religion (through churches), academia (in fellowships), politics (in nations), business (in strategic alliances, joint ventures & partnerships), sports (in federation & clubs), social life (in social clubs); in global law & order (through international courts & treaties) and even down to the basic unit of our social interactions which is family. The expressions of community have been with us for a while; and we must have engaged with one, in some way over the course of our lives.

So, why do some people like my former self not engage with the concept of community? Well, sometimes it maybe that we haven’t seen models of healthy communities, have had painful community-related experiences, don’t think we have much to give, or simply don’t see the benefit in it. If you are in any of these categories, I can absolutely relate so let’s proceed to discuss these thoughts.

First, let’s start with the “I don’t have much to give” thought. Friend, you have value to give – your value is YOU! No human being irrespective of their background, experiences, education and qualifications, skills, giftings, etc. can be you and that alone is your superpower. Also, in most of the communities, there’s no pressure to give of what you don’t already have so rest in that.

Second, if you have had painful experiences, I deeply empathize with you. However, the truth is you would never know the love in another community if you don’t try to at least open yourself to it. Please try, give it a chance, and while you do it cautiously, be careful not to make assumptions or make one pay for the sins of the other.

Third, let’s address the “I haven’t seen any healthy communities around” thought. Well, while this may sound difficult to believe to some, it could be possible. You could either actively look for communities based on your interest or start one in your local community. I mean, technology has done a fantastic job of tearing down borders and restrictions so you can go global. You could also start a community since you have spotted a gap and have some value to give. You can be the change you desire to see.

Lastly, if you don’t see or haven’t seen the benefit of being in communities, then just read on and be open minded to the experiences around you. As you go about this community journey, keep in mind that people are human – not perfect. So, be real, merciful, compassionate, and considerate in your engagement. You are also part of either the solution or the problem so be mindful of the attitude, ideas, and emotions you bring into the community.

In healthy communities, there is friendship and support. I learnt this through my friends of almost 16 years. Though we’ve gone to do various things and now live in different cities, we have, to a large extent, been there for one another through life. The knowledge that you’re not alone even in the most trying times gives you strength and a reason to go on.

There is knowledge and power. I’ve paired this two not just because the famous saying by Thomas Jefferson popped in my head, but also because in healthy communities, there is access to knowledge that each member has, thus giving a broader knowledge base for each individual to leverage. This is phenomenal because you don’t have to grope in the dark, feel confused, make expensive mistakes just based on your active engagement in a community. There is power because access to knowledge can give you the momentum to push through, competitive advantage over others, and of course there is strength in a group with one voice and purpose. I don’t need to emphasize this as the Women Suffrage, Human Rights, Anti-Apartheid, Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements are proof of this.

 Closely related to knowledge and power, is growth. As I think on this, it is dependent on how you as an individual engage with the community. On this journey, I have realized that the knowledge, power, people, support, etc. are available – but it is your ability to connect with them that makes the difference. Don’t be the one who stays hungry when a buffet is set right before you.

Find a community that aligns with your values and goals today, connect with it and contribute to it! I’ll be sharing some enriching communities on the Instagram page in the course of the week so follow us @gro.wingtogether if you aren’t already.

As always,

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