Let’s talk about your VIL-LAGE, let’s talk about CO-MU-Ni-TEE let’s talk about all the good things, and the bad things that may be (to the tune of “Let’s Talk About Sex” by Salt-n-Pepa). Sorry but that’s probably going to be stuck in your head for a while.
I want to use this week’s post to focus on your village, what it means to you and help you determine if you need to reevaluate the effectiveness of your village as it exists today. I can’t say enough how much I value and appreciate my personal and professional network. I can honestly say that at every juncture in my career, I’ve been successful at cultivating, nurturing and maintaining my network. I believe that it’s so important to surround yourself with people that will contribute to your overall growth and are comfortable with keeping your accountable. I love the saying “It takes a village”. The saying usually precedes other statements about raising children or the idea of needing a village to accomplish a big task. Let’s take a second to look at some of the definitions of village:
Village - a self-contained district or community within a town or city, regarded as having features characteristic of village life.
Community - a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
So, now that we have some context, the phrase “It takes a village” takes on new life. We can adjust our phrase and say it this way: it takes an intimate community of people, fellowshipping with each other because they share common attitudes, interests and goals to achieve a major task! I’m in love with this… it’s nothing short of wonderful when you expand your understanding.
Obviously, when we start talking about your village, we are talking about your personal and professional community. It’s your network. I find that when discussing networking, adjusting that narrative to refer to defining your community or village, people are more willing and open to the possibilities of growing in that area. What I want to explore in this week’s post, is the strength of YOUR community (or village) I'll use those words interchangeably but the outcome will be the same. I want you to explore its strength. In our quest to understand the traits and potential weak points, I also want you to be willing to make the necessary changes, should you determine that parts of the community are no longer effective or appreciating in the way that your personal brand is headed.
Your village should appreciate in value. Similarly, to a community with property values, the village is an investment. At one point the village is solely investing in you. At a new juncture, you should also give back to the village. Both efforts should be positive in trajectory, and beneficial to the community as a whole. I believe the existence of your community can be categorized by 4 key activities. They exist to encourage and develop you, inspire and stretch you, promote and present you and lastly, they cover and protect you. Let’s spend some time exploring what I mean by each of these community traits.
Encourage and Develop You – Our personal village usually finds us when we are young. Young in our careers, young in age or young in transition. These I consider the formative moments. Here is where we are most susceptible to distractions and vulnerable to choking on bad information. But it’s also these moments where we are making the most mistakes and pliable enough to change. The lessons we receive from our personal community help to shape our direction. Consider the young person new to the workforce with only the blueprint they received from college to guide them. The shock and horror most will find when they enter the workforce, will contrast the fairytale story their Professors led them to believe. They are expecting some triumphant welcome on their first day of work, and while for some that may happen, for most of them, the most exciting part of the day, will be the lunch their manager pays for. If that even happens. They will quickly find that all they’ve learned in college was just a framework. How they build going forward may be an outdated model that wants to mold them into a clone of an equally outdated office creation. It doesn’t allow them to be creative or to share their newly attained knowledge. The workforce will FORCE them to WORK into a previously designed model. The effectiveness of your community should ensure that you take this moment for the learnings that it affords, while making sure you don’t lose the essence of what makes you unique and irreplaceable. During this moment, it will be easy to become discouraged, anxious, frustrated, angry. Your community needs to be strong enough to reach you past your point of frustration. It’s their role to keep you focused on the end-result and anchor you. Anchor you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s also the role of your community to be stronger than you. So when complaints and cries of how hard this is, and I didn’t think it would be like this roll in, the community teaches you how to persevere and push through. The community shares their HOW and forces you to cling tight to your WHY! Your community allows you to feel whatever negative emotion and sentiment you may have, only for a moment. Just long enough to give you a release from the emotion and separate it from you. They won’t allow you to carry this heaviness around. Pretending nothing is wrong, is not an option. A strong community walks you through this moment encouraging you with love and developing you with care and honor. Taking nothing about this early stage for granted, knowing that there will be hard and harder days ahead. Your community is there to develop you into a resilient, confident individual. Making sure you don’t buckle under life’s many pressures.
Inspire and Stretch You – Encouragement is not enough. The fact is, if I am no longer inspired, it’s difficult for me to continue down the correct and chosen path. You won’t always be able to inspire or keep yourself motivated. This is where the community comes in again. Keeping before you WHY you started and reminding you what it was that inspired you in the beginning. If you wanted to change the world, your community never let’s you forget how big your dreams are. But they don’t just cheer you on from the sidelines. They are there to force you to go beyond what you thought you were capable of. I have a friend who is an amazing coach to several young athletes. I’ve seen videos of them breathing hard, panting, sweating and looking as if at any moment they will collapse from the pressure. I’ve noticed in some of the videos, he is on the sidelines yelling, “good job, good work, keep going”. But there are other times when he is on the sidelines yelling with even more intensity “come on!!, faster, faster!!, push!!, GO!!”. All along, he is the same supportive coach. He still inspires and motivates. But there are times when support looks like discipline and discipline feels like pain. The community knows all of this is necessary. In the end, the community knows that the outcome of pain is victory.
Promote and Present You – The community is full of professions, levels, experiences, audiences and disciplines. The beauty of the community is that their reach will always exceed yours. Their access will be greater than yours. And in many cases, their influence will have more power and their voice will be louder than yours. At the appointed time, the community knows that you can’t stay in your lane for much longer. My athletic coaching friend knows that the training is just part of the process. At some point, we expect a performance. An effective community has an audience waiting. They have been working in the background, mentioning your name, singing your praises, inviting their own community to take a look at you. They know that you’ve been doing the work, because they have been there all along, by your side, encouraging, developing, inspiring and stretching you. And they haven’t done it all for naught. They have an endgame, it’s to see you positioned in your proper place. Your community has plans to present you. The developed and mature you, that has learned to manage their emotions when dealing with stressful situations. The poised you, that can own their space in whatever setting they are in. The well spoken you that no longer stammers over their words when introduced to someone or something new. Your community has waited just as long as you for this moment and they celebrate your arrival.
Cover and Protect You – Once you’re presented and on your way, opportunities will come. Your community doesn’t just drop you and disappear. Your community continues to support you and continues to grow stronger. Because the community is invested in your growth, it is committed to ensure you are cared for. With this energy, they protect you. They protect you by being an advocate for you and your personal brand. They protect your mind by not allowing you to be consumed by negative thoughts, negative feedback and negative experiences. The community recognizes that protection happens on all fronts, so they cover you spiritually and emotionally. They make sure that prayers and much support, exist for you, your endeavors and your future learning opportunities. They also make sure that your emotional health is front of mind. They notice changes in your mood and behavior. And when it seems that you are not handling the stresses well, the community is charged to step in and pull you through. If you notice, when the community is teaching you resilience, they instruct YOU to PUSH through. In those moments they are fortifying you, building muscle and making you strong. But while they are protecting you, the COMMUNITY will PULL you through. Because they understand that life is big and at times too heavy for one person to do it on their own. At these moments, the combined strength of the community links arms, resources, voices and energies to rescue those that are weak. Not because you aren’t capable, but because we are an immovable tower when we join ourselves together. The community will never fail you. The community won’t stop… even after you win. They won’t stop, because they understand that the next lesson, the next challenge and the next victory is right around the corner.
I urge you to look at YOUR village. If they don’t go hard to encourage and develop you, inspire and stretch you, promote and present you or cover and protect you, I submit to you that this is not your community. These are watchers waiting to see if you fail. These are detractors, looking for the opportunity to discredit you. These are dream killers, they’ve never achieved the success you aspire to, and they have no idea what it takes to win. Because they have no vision for themselves, they want to destroy yours. I encourage you to seek out your true community. Perhaps you’ve been afraid to engage them or ask for help. To get to the next level, you have to step outside of yourself. So much is waiting for you and no man is an island. Remember the phrase, It’s takes village? Now, remember it this way, "it takes an intimate community of people, fellowshipping with each other because they share common attitudes, interests and goals to achieve a major task!"
And just in-case you didn’t know…that major task is YOUR success.
If you are ready to make the most of out of your community, or want to make sure you are aligned with the best community for your current path, send an email to email@example.com .
And just so you know... you've taken the first step. Community expansion starts here...because if you’re on this platform you are part of this community too!
Leave me a comment below...I'd love to hear from you.
~these are my thoughts....ratedpg