How Does Change Make Communities Thrive?
(Guest post by Jon Mertz @ThinDifference)
Change is always changing. A circular statement? Although it is, change is never static. The impact of change on individuals, families, colleagues, and citizens is unsettling and welcome. We begin to see the dichotomy of change. Some change we like, and other changes we do not.
Change can wear on us or enliven us. More than either of these options, we may end up talking more about change than changing. Talking is easy. Change takes action.
A famous Mahatma Gandhi quote is “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” The words are inspiring. “Be the change” has evolved into an almost static moment. Just be, and all will be fine!
“Be the change” is much more. I believe it means that we need to act on the change we wish to see. We need to be the example we want to see.
The standard of “be the change” rises. More than just one person –
- What if one person gathered 20 others to facilitate change?
- What if one person helped 20 people?
- What if each of the 20 individuals engaged in change or being helped by another then did the same?
The power of change multiplies when we join with others and then they do the same. Picture this. Twenty people standing in a circle holding hands. On top of each grasped hand, another hand connected with another 20 individuals connected in a circle. And then again and again. What you visualize is the concentric power of 20 people facilitating change.
Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist, said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Twenty people is a small group. Twenty people, energized by one, can energize a community.
We can be the change, or we can rise to another level. We can act on the change we want to see.
Being present is a starting point. From here, we need to act with the passion of change and the compassion of understanding the change required to make a positive impact. A positive impact is a community growing, serving, and making lives better.
Enabling a thriving community is not complicated; it is hard. We can never let the challenges hold us back. Instead, we need to rise up to the challenge for the sake of our communities and character.
Join us for a #SpiritChat conversation about change and community. As part of this conversation, consider starting a small project of change within your community on January 20th. A grassroots initiative started called #One20. The goal: On Inauguration Day, let’s make it a day of doing good works. Let’s show our better side by doing good where we are. Let us act on the change we what to see and experience. Learn more at One20.today and on the One20Today Facebook page.
Jon Mertz is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders and founder of Thin Difference, a cross-generational community to connect leaders on purpose. You can join the conversation on Facebook by liking the Thin Difference page.
Ajmanik’s Note: I am so very excited to host my long-time friend Jon Mertz in our weekly #SpiritChat twitter chat on Sunday, January 15th at 9am ET/2pm UTC. Jon’s theme of a ‘call to action’ to create change is a perfect example of “Karma Yoga” – the practice of Yoga through ‘Karma’ or action. Do join me (@AjmaniK) and Jon (@ThinDifference) this Sunday!
The Impact we have on each other’s lives – by Elisa Balabram (@womenandbiz)
Our featured host on our weekly twitter chat #SpiritChat this week is ‘Intuitve Business and Life Coach’, Elisa Balabram. Please join Elisa in a conversation on Sunday, March 6th at 9amET / 1pmUTC about “The Impact we have on each other’s lives”. Thank you, Elisa! ~ Kumud
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
Last Sunday’s #SpiritChat hosted by Kumud Ajmani on The Ultimate Freedom was so beautiful and touching. I encourage you to read the cover post if you have not done so already, and also to take a moment to reflect on his questions.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the impact we have on each other’s lives, big or small. All participants of the weekly #SpiritChat have careers, talents, and skills that most members don’t know about. Yet, we come together for one hour to share our presence, our wisdom, and our soul with each other. Although it might be impossible to impact all the over 100+ participants, we certainly impact one or two souls, and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
A few weeks ago, during #SpiritChat I was so touched by this retweet from Sharon that I saved it:
It was an affirmation that my presence, the work within, and how I show up matter and can be recognized.
When asked what my proudest moment has been in my career as an adjunct for the past four years, I thought of a student who said that through my course he had learned how to become a better human being. Most of the time, one’s success is measured by more tangible results like starting or growing a business, being accepted for a master’s program, getting a job, advancing in one’s career, etc. Nevertheless, I think that the deepest impact we have, no matter the work we do, is intangible and most often than not goes unacknowledged by our own self and by the ones we impact.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been sending hand written notes to people who have impacted my life in some way. It has made me focus on how they matter to me, and how at times, even the smallest gestures can touch one’s heart, such as the tweet above.
To continue the conversation on The Ultimate Freedom, and talk about the impact our lives have, join me and the #SpiritChat community this Sunday March 6th at 9am EST to discuss the impact we have on each other’s lives.
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” Anita Roddick
Author of Ask Others, Trust Yourself – The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Key to Success and
What is a community? What is its role in broader society? How does a community empower those who belong to it? Where does a communuity derive its own power from?
Some of these questions have been floating through my brainbox over the past few weeks as I have had the opportunity to travel and be among a community of close family, as I traverse the various social media streams and read the reactions of some close and distant friends to world events, and as I have continued my solo walks through the local forest preserve and watched its animal dwellers prepare for winter. I share some observations with you here, and hope you will share some of yours with the #SpiritChat community over the coming week.
The first role of a community is to create and provide space. A space where new members can arrive and feel a sense of safety. They feel safe in the knowledge that they will be treated with kindness, with welcoming smiles, with extended hands of friendship, with warmth and with a genuine sense of joy and gratitude expressed by all members of the community. This space can be physical or virtual. Community leaders often identify themselves by their willingness to offer unconditional heartspace.
The second role of a thriving community is that it grows leaders. How does this happen? Once the community space is established, it provides opportunities for growth for all its members. As the comfort level of the members grows in being with each other on a frequent basis, seeds of mini-friendships are planted, which form roots of friendship. Eventually, the healthy growth produces leaves and fruits which attract new community members. As the trust, respect and confidence level of the members grows, some of them feel courageous enough to ‘drop seeds’ of their own, and form new communities. This creates more heartspace, attracts different segments of people, and grows more leaders.
The third role of a community is that it protects those who are either too weak to stand on their own, by lending them a voice of strength that comes from harmony. The cool shade of a community may also protect those who need some time, space and healing words and remedies, to recover their strength caused by pain and suffering caused by ill-health, personal loss, or a sense of shared loss felt by the community as a whole. This protection is in the form of bridges built by the community leaders, for those in need to connect with those who have an abundance of what is needed by the needy. A community becomes an opportunity and a privilege for those who have the desire to serve and heal with gratitude, to be able to do so.
I am sure that those of you who have read so far can think of additional roles for communities, their members and their leaders. The three roles that I have listed above – to created and provide space, to provide opportunites for growth and grow leaders, to protect, serve and heal – are all, by design, designed to empower all who choose to embrace those three roles. However, we know all too well that not all communities operate in the realm of openness, love and expanded heartspace. The negative space created by excess of fear, misplaced jealousy, over-protectiveness and runaway greed can create communities – but these are anything but empowering for their members or their leaders. How can those of us who believe in creating empowering communities connect and communicate with those who choose to do otherwise? Can we? Should we even bother? Why?
I hope that you will pause and give some thought and consideration to the communities that you belong to, the values that they represent, and how they align with your values and your heartspace. I hope that you will join the #SpiritChat community in this conversation, and meet some new folks, form some mini-friendships, and who knows, even form your own thriving communities in the future.
P.S. Part of this conversation will be held ‘live’ on twitter – Sunday, November 25th at 9amET/2pmUTC/7:30pm India. I hope you will be able to join us in that hour. What other key roles do your communities play in your life? How has your engagement with the #SpiritChat community affected your life? How can the community serve you better? I invite you to share with us… Thank you!
I have been walking across a lot of bridges lately. The mere act of walking across a bridge that creates a lot of emotions like serenity and tranquility, a sense of gratitude for the one who created the bridge for us, a feeling of inspiration within to share our experience with others and create bridges for those who may have never experienced the joy of walking across one… Sometimes, the landscape on either side of the bridge may be world’s apart, but often, the differences are more in our perception than in reality. Sometimes, the bridge may be over calmly flowing shallow waters, but often, the value of a bridge is truly appreciated when it helps us cross over turbulent, deep waters. Sometimes, the mere act of crossing a bridge may require courage, particularly if the bridge starts to wobble with our first step, and at other times, we may feel doubt, resistance and trepidation about the unknowns what we may find on the other side of yet to be explored landscapes.
The crossing of bridges does not happen merely in the physical realm. It happens often in our work life that we are challenged to cross bridges and/or create bridges for others to cross and meet each other. One example of bridge-work happens at conferences, particularly those with an international flavor about them. A kaleidoscope of cultures, languages, ideas, and perspectives for the current state-of-the-art, and diverse visions of the future and the paths to pursue to advance the state-of-the-art are brought together in international meetings of minds. New partnerships are forged by those who are willing to put aside their egos in favor of collaboration; those who are reluctant to take the first step to cross over the waters of not-invented-here syndrome, or even meet their potential collaborators halfway across the bridge, are left on the sidelines on obsolescence. I have personally witnessed all of these scenarios in the aerospace conferences that I often attend ~ those individuals and companies who take advantage of the bridges created by the organizers to form mini-friendships create tremendous new value for the global community and inspire others to do the same!
We may be familiar with the challenges which are posed to us when we would rather stay put, in our comfort zone, rather than cross a bridge to say hello to a new neighbor who moved in just a few doors down. We are familiar with the challenge of starting a conversation with a new face that we encounter in our travels, particularly if our initial attempt at reaching out isn’t met with warmth. Some of us may be familiar with the challenge of arriving in a brand new country, half a world apart, and not even knowing where the river lies, let alone knowing about how, why and where of building a bridge to cross the culture gap. What are some challenges you have faced in crossing bridges? Or in constructing bridges for others to cross?
In the spiritual realm, crossing of bridges represents opportunities to share and exchange our family and community values, our beliefs, our customs and more with people and the communities that they represent. Bridge-building is one of the stated purposes of our spiritually oriented conversations every Sunday on twitter (and beyond) in #SpiritChat. The group of people who gather and share every week, contribute to the building and repair of the bridges that have been built by the community over time. The ‘elders’ (regulars) of the community serve as the strong pylons and often hold the hands of the ‘younger’ ones, to encourage them to step forward in connection. The ‘younger’ ones who are new to the community, bring an infusion of energy, new ideas, new materials for bridge construction and encourage new perspectives and questions. It is our willingness to show up and be present with our light that keeps the community and her bridges relevant, crossable, and strong.
We all have the light to be the love that is a ‘bridge person’. Don’t we?
P.S. Join us in #SpiritChat Sunday Novemeber 1st 2015, at 9amET/2pmUTC/7:30pm India (after a one-hour shift ahead of the clocks from 1pmUTC to 2pmUTC in North America). Bring your light and your love ~ you are the community, and only you can be the bridge for some people who see you as the bright light that you are. I will make sure to bring some questions 🙂
We have all heard the adage – “it was the quiet before the storm”. In our case, it had already been raining for three straight days before the super-storm called Sandy actually hit. Fortunately, we were merely on the outermost edge of the hurricane which battered the East Coast of the USA. But we were part of a few townships in the local area which had a lot of power outages due to uprooted trees falling on power lines.
They say that adversity brings out the worst or the best in human beings. As we focus on our own selves and follow our natural instinct for self-preservation, we can get disconnected from the plight of those in our community. Once we determine that we (and our families) are going to be safe, our attention may shift to how our neighbors may be faring. Of course, there are the few who first respond to the needs of those around them and then focus on their own welfare – they are indeed community heroes.
This is perhaps where the renewal that comes from connection with a community – physical or virtual – comes into play. As we connect and engage with those who are trying to recover, our empathy, our sympathy, our words of caring and our small acts of kindness can go a long way to assist in the renewal. Before we renew others, we do have to make sure that we are strong within, before we can be effective in helping to renew others. That is perhaps why regular personal renewal on physical, emotional and spiritual levels is important.
The metaphor of this particular storm may not be important to you. You may not have been personally affected by this storm. But do know that there is someone in your neighborhood, your community who is trying to weather some kind of storm. And you have an opportunity to help them with their process of renewal, and give them that little bit of strength that they may need to stay standing.
As large parts of the Eastern states in the USA recover from the physical effects of the storm (as of this writing, four days later, a lot of families are still without power), the emotional effects are perhaps more widespread because friends and family of those on the East coast are spread all over the country, if not worldwide. So, how do we best recover from these effects? How do we prepare for future storms? How do we help those affected by the storms – physically, emotionally and maybe even spiritually?
The themes in #SpiritChat for the month of November were designated to be gratitude and healing. I invite you to join the #SpiritChat community on Sunday November 4th at 9am ET / 2pm UK / 7:30pm India – your strength can help the community with the process of renewal.
Be well. I hope that mother nature is kind to you.
P.S. If in the USA, please don’t forget to turn back the clocks for that extra hour of sleep 🙂
Update: Here is the pdf version of the chat transcript for download. Also see the questions asked during the live chat on our topic of Renewal. Enjoy!
Q1. What do the words "renewal" and "community" mean to you in your current life context? #SpiritChat Q2. What are some signs that it is time for you to pause and renew? #SpiritChat Q3. What are your favorite ways to renew your body and mind? #SpiritChat Q4. How do the communities you engage with impact your process of renewal? #SpiritChat Q5. Spiritual renewal is mostly personal. Community is secondary. Agree or disagree? Why? #SpiritChat Q6. How do we strengthen our communities to support renewal for others? #SpiritChat Q7. Do you have a personal mantra, prayer or technique(s) for renewal? Do share. #SpiritChat Q8. How do we identify communities that are struggling at this hour? And help them renew... #SpiritChat
Living in a big city, I cherish any opportunity that I get to visit the ‘country’. It reminds me of the small town I spent four years in while in graduate school. I got a rare opportunity after last Sunday (October 2nd) morning’s #SpiritChat. We piled in the minivan, and the family headed out to the small town of Wellington. I thought it would be a good opportunity to spend some Sunday hours with my family.
I had no idea that I was going to get an education on the true meaning of the “spirit of a community”.
My wife’s friend’s sister has this rare form of cancer which occurs in 2 out of a million people. She has been receiving ‘experimental’ treatments for the past few months ~ perhaps her last hope for a cure. An estimated 5% of people who receive the treatment beat the disease and are in permanent remission.
But this story is not about cancer.
As I pulled into the road that led to the “Wellington Eagles Hall” with its freshly paved parking lot bordered by cornfields on one side, I was struck by the fact that there were almost a few hundred cars there. I had driven through the ‘downtown’ of this two-stoplight town and it didn’t seem like that there could have been a hundred cars in the entire town. But, perhaps, some of them were ‘out-of-town’ folks like me.
Walking into the building, I could hear the band playing as the music streamed into the hallway. We made our way to the “welcome table”, where we were greeted warmly by her family and friends. Mind you, I had never met most of the over 300 folks that had crammed this small dining hall. But somehow, I felt right at home. Every seat on every table seemed like it was taken.
Welcome to the “spirit of community” ~ friends, family and acquaintances had gathered for a fund-raiser to help her continue with her experimental treatments. The goal was to raise some money for travel, lodging and medical expenses by having a “spaghetti dinner”. Perhaps some of you have been to events like these ~ but this was my first experience. A tremendous amount of work had been done by ‘volunteers’ who had solicited donations from businesses that were raffled off as prizes. People were buying ‘arm-length’ and ‘body-length’ tickets for $10 and $20 respectively.
A group of ladies stood behind a counter serving up what seemed like an unending supply of various home-baked goods. Teenagers walked around selling tickets for the 50-50 raffle. I could go on and on about the amount of work that family and close friends were engaged in. After three hours, they had raised over $8500. My wife’s friend called later and said that the total was over $13000 (the original goal was $10000).
But this story isn’t about money either.
I share this story because it taught me a few things. The power of generosity. The power of single-mindedness of purpose. The power of collective consciousness, and the positive energy that seemed to flow into her spirit in the presence of her well-wishers. And, the power of what can be achieved when a community decides to collaborate and work towards a goal.
Let us talk some more about the “Spirit of Community”. I invite you to tweet with the hashtag #SpiritChat and join in a twitter chat on Sunday October 9th at 9am ET / 1pm GMT. Come share with our community.
Thank you. Be well. Kumud
P.S. Please leave a comment about the “Spirit of your Community” if you cannot join us at the appointed hour. We would love to hear from you. Thank you.
Tweet with or search the hashtag #SpiritChat on twitter as a participant to see each other’s tweets on the topic. Or use tweetchat.com and ‘Join’ #Spiritchat at 9am ET/1pmGMT on Sundays.
Update: #SpiritChat Transcript for Sunday October 09th 9am ET. Join us in a ‘community’ review at 10pm ET/7pm PT. Thank you!