What are you Searching For?

What is your community?
Is it your work? Perhaps the people who share your co-working space? Is it your family because they are where you feel most loved? Perhaps its a project team that is especially passionate for something you all believe in?
A friend and I were talking about how there’s been a massive reduction in people belonging to “the church” and even a sense of physical neighborhoods. But, at the same time, there’s been a huge rise in the ability to find people ‘like you’ online. A Yes & Know community member, Marie Cameron (an artist) shared her take on communities she’s a part of with this bubble diagram. It describes her intersectional interests from her personal and professional side.
By visualizing it, she could see who she was connected with and why. These form her community.Spheres-of-Community-Marie-Cameron-2015So often, the words “tribe” or “community” are used when, in reality, it’s a company trying to sell something.
But somehow, we all know when we belong to a true community, a place that isn’t about someone trying to take something from us, but about the mutual exchange of something we care about, together.

A community expert, Sarah Judd Welch, recently described community as “a clear sense of the value provided to members (and, of course, the delivery of said value). So often, that fundamental value is not swag, discounts, or even resources. It’s the fulfillment of a human need. It’s belonging. It’s friendship. It’s the feeling of being less alone. That personal experience should be at the core of any community initiative.”

Sarah’s definition strikes a cord when she says “belonging”. Community is where we feel less alone, and okay to be who we actually are.

There can be no big idea without community. Why? Because if we are the ONLY weird one, we’ll quite often keep our novel idea to ourselves. No new idea comes out unless we feel “safe” enough to share it. But if we are mainstream in a weird world, then we’ll bring out or onlyness, that place from which original ideas come. Genius is not only that initial spark of an idea but who can add, shape, challenge and execute that idea. Big ideas, therefore, are a communal act.

Which got me reflecting, for myself, to whom do I belong? Certainly my immediate family. BlogIcon_Right copyDefinitely the group of women that are on the Change The Ratio List. Sometimes the Thinkers50 group. Sometimes the HBR community. Sometimes the writing community. Rarely the mom crowd. Sometimes the CEO / Board community. Certainly friends who love to learn. Never with competitive people who think there are only so many seats at the table. Never with people who I sense are lying to me. Always to those who live in a generous and life-affirming way.

And so let me ask: what is your community, and what are searching for? May I suggest you write the list for yourself and see what you learn; Share if you wish. Might inspire someone else.

9 Responses:

  1. Mitch Krayton. April 14, 2015 at 10:45 am  |  

    A true community or tribe is an exchange. You enter for what you can get. You stay for what you can give.

    Reply
    • nilofermerchant. April 14, 2015 at 11:10 pm  |  

      Mitch, thanks for writing. I love this formula. How did you come to learn this?

      Reply
      • Mitch Krayton. April 14, 2015 at 11:43 pm  |  

        Nilofer, It’s my general observation from the tribes I have joined. There are those I have left, and those that I have chosen to stick with. What you get is fleeting. What you give endures. Being appreciated for your gifts motivates you to stay.

        Reply
        • nilofermerchant. April 15, 2015 at 12:20 am  |  

          thank you for giving this insight here. It is a gem.

          Reply
  2. Wendy Zito. April 14, 2015 at 9:15 pm  |  

    I have found that people in the Silicon Valley seem to busy for community. Frankly they only have time for their work and their family. Friends seem like a luxury. I do not feel that way so I liked your article. Thanks.

    Reply
    • nilofermerchant. April 14, 2015 at 11:09 pm  |  

      Wendy, isn’t that interesting to note those communities of family and work as being prevalent in a region. I wonder if you did an similar view of say the Midwest, what you’d find. Maybe church? And I find writers are one group that has a community, and so do other professional groups, like small business owners often crowd into rotary.

      Reply
  3. Roz Duffy. April 16, 2015 at 9:11 am  |  

    Personally, I’m feeling like a satellite floating around between communities right now. I can still beam down my messages and receive signals back, but I’m in orbit I guess. I miss community and I know that I will seek it out again eventually. I appreciate the thoughts above about giving. I’m not sure where to direct my energy right now, so I just keep floating.

    Reply
    • Nilofer Merchant. April 16, 2015 at 10:36 pm  |  

      I hope you land or at least tether soon. There’s something about the giving that lets us understand our own value. It’s in that process, we see ourselves more clearly.

      Reply
  4. Sharon O'Hara. May 25, 2015 at 12:53 pm  |  

    It is an empowering thing to enter into a community with intention, to know what you want to achieve in relationship with them and what you can in turn give back. It is like a an exponential multiplier, the power of a group operating with shared purpose and inquiry.

    Reply

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