“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.” ~ Henrik Ibsen
For some reason I’ve got the word community stuck in my head lately. It’s rolling around in there doing flip flops. It used to be that the first thing that would pop into my mind when hearing the word community was my neighbourhood. This is no longer the case. When I think of community now I think in broader terms: work, school, and play to name just a few.
Strong communities are such powerful forces for supporting individual and collaborative efforts. They are an opportunity to be social and to engage. They create space for people to belong and share in meaningful discussions and outcomes. In an organization when people from different work groups come together to brainstorm and generate new ideas, they are creating a community. At school, when students work on group projects and join various teams and organized groups, they become part of a community. For people who have hobbies, often it is through the connections which are made at meetings and organized events that a community evolves.
What about the communities which form and don’t fit into any of the scenarios above? What about the people you meet during professional development training sessions that you are in regular contact with long after the training has finished? I see this example with my coaching colleagues and the community of like minded people it attracts who continue to support one another. What about social media? It certainly has the power to create some pretty strong and engaging communities. Ask any parent who has a child or children in competitive sports or in any organized activity about community. Often times, the parents are as connected to one another by the end of the season as the kids are.
After all, who doesn’t want to be a part of something meaningful? Communities provide us with an opportunity to collaborate, to share in learning and in success, to support one another, to laugh together, and to grow individually and collectively. There are many key factors to creating strong communities. Of the communities that I’ve been privileged to be a part of, the strongest ones typically had shared goals, were diverse, embraced challenge, demonstrated respect, and trust.
Goals: Having a common end goal is critical to the success of a community. Even if you don’t necessarily agree on how to get there at the front end, sharing a purpose is so rewarding and moves us forward.
Diversity: Different pools of knowledge and learning get thrown into the pot in a diverse community. This creates even deeper insights resulting in a very rich cultural feast.
Challenge: Some of the most rewarding experiences come from times when we’ve been the most challenged. Allowing ourselves to be open to the process of inviting feedback may create multiple wins for the community as a whole.
Respect: Valuing the opinions of others without placing judgement is not always an easy task. Deep down we all want our voice to be heard. Strong communities have big ears and respect flows like a river.
Trust: Without trust, a community is nothing more than a group of people. With trust however, a community can create change, achieve goals, identify and cultivate individual and collective talents.
What types of communities do you want to belong to? I vote for the type that uses collaboration as a tool to generate creative ideas and positive outcomes which lead to building strong communities of purpose.
Best wishes, Glo
(C) 2012 – True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon