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“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
The word community is familiar to all of us and probably has a unique definition for each one of us. We define community generally from what know through experience and also through what we think it should look like.
Today, the community no longer resembles what it did in the past. Now we refer the global community, the business community and other kinds of communities which may not have been common in the past or may even have been unheard of. There are new realities, new dynamics and new challenges. Leaders today, need to, more than ever, be aware of how the dynamics of the community are changing and what this means for the organizations they are leading.
The Book Paradigm Shift, 7 Realities Of Success In The New Economy, with forward by leadership speaker George Guzzardo, has a chapter entitled Community Is the New Neighborhood from which the following was inspired.
A Preliminary View Of Community
Depending on when we grew up and where community meant something different for each one of us. For some, growing up in the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s, the community represented an idyllic neighborhood with neighbors being a part of all activities, from meals at home, to picnics, to neighborhood surveillance. For others, this image of the community was not their day to day reality. Time is not the only determiner of what a community can look like.
Community is also a function of the culture we are surrounded by. It could be the environment we find ourselves in or the culture we choose to be a part of. We may grow up in a given culture and the later choose to live in another environment. New places, new situations, such as education, or career paths can change our sense of what community is.
Changing Definitions of Community
Today, many people struggle to gain a sense of what community is and build one for themselves. Varying challenges of growing up have left many with a sense that community is not what they think it is. Traditionally, community centered around family and the local neighborhood. Today, this is very far from the reality of many people.
The definition of what community represents is expanding well beyond the immediate environment and family to include global members, business partners, shared interest groups, etc.
So what can community mean today? One of the most important elements of the community is to have a common interest where all members have an unwritten code, so to speak of why they belong and how they contribute. No one who is part of a community stays there if he or she does not share a common interest with the group.
The Chapter entitled: Paradigm 7: Community Is The New Neighborhood, lists three questions to help define a community (p. 177).
- Whose interests would you put above your own? (these are your family)
- Whose interests would you work for at the same level as your own? (These are your community).
- Whose interests naturally benefit from your interests and visa versa (when you achieve, they achieve and visa versa) – (these are your long-term community).
Human beings flourish most in community. We want community. We seek it.- Paradigm shift
Building A Community
A community is a necessary, but complex foundation and network of relationships in which humans find companionship and structure. It is where they learn, develop skills and help others do the same. Members are necessarily interdependent. benefits. There are two fundamental aspects of community:
- shared benefit
- genuine love (caring for the other members)
However, people have struggled to combine these two aspects because, at the outset, they are innately oppositional. Our need to pursue self-interest seems to go against seeking to care for others. In our minds, one of these has to give. How do we reconcile the two to build a strong community where everyone benefits? This dilemma cuts to the very heart of what a community really is and also to why a true
Community flourishes where we find a way past the two extremes and blend the necessary ingredients: genuine love and genuine self-interest. – Paradigm Shift
The Core Of A Community
A healthy community provides everyone the freedom, encouragement, and opportunity to express both needs and desires. It is an environment of support and cheerleaders.
How can a community come together in this way? What is the nature of the glue? The common element that makes community work can be summed up in one word: service. When we begin with a desire to genuinely love (serve) others in our community, eventually our interests and their interests will begin to align with one another, come together, so to speak. The eventually become common shared interests.
Likewise, when we begin with our own self-interest and serve others in order to meet our self-interest, it benefits both parties ( a win-win). When we do enough serving (even to benefit ourselves), the dynamics begin to change. We begin to truly care about those we serve and our service becomes one of caring. Eventually, our interests mesh with one another and become common interests.
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller
The Power And The New Reality
The power of a healthy community lies in this dynamic, this relationship that blends both practical needs with emotional needs through one common bond: service.
The implications of this understanding of community building have the potential to transform the way we do business ( and, in fact, it is happening now). run schools and hospitals, and how we live in all aspects of life. In business, the success of the organization is a direct outcome of the success of the individual employees. Imagine business built on the foundation of service and love rather than on profit at all cost.
Leaders who want to build and transform businesses, organizations, schools, hospitals and other areas of society, would do well to recognize that self-interest and genuine love can no longer be mutually exclusive, but must necessarily be a function of service.”
The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca