What does that word mean to you?
And why does it matter?
Community is defined as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.
It’s also about fitting in. And if there is one thing I have learned since I began coaching, it’s that all of us deep down want to fit in somewhere in life.
I was 42 before I understood what this word truly meant and before I experienced what it was to be a part of a community and, to contribute to one.
It happened when I was an expat living in Panama. There North Americans gather together in a land where the language, customs and way of life is different from our own and it was here that I truly felt a connection to people as we discovered our common attitudes, interests and goals. It takes courage and a sense of adventure to become an expat and I saw that in those I met as well as learned that I exuded those qualities myself. (Who knew!)
Once I had a taste of this, became a part of it, lived it, I knew I had to always have it in my life.
When I returned to Canada a few years later, I told myself that finding a community again was one of my top priorities; I needed to feel like I belonged. Little did I know that my local Toastmasters club would provide that to me in spades. That was almost four years ago now.
If you have never heard of Toastmasters it is an organization that supports and guides people to work on and improve their public speaking and leadership skills. Here I found a place that spoke to my personal values and allowed me to fit in.
My local club has provided me with a wonderful sense of community. But it also provides me with things I did not realize I would find when I joined. I also get to practice my courage on a regular basis, giving speeches every few months takes plenty of courage! So does taking on leadership roles within the clubs executive committee. Being a part of this community gives me a tremendous feeling of connection as well; no matter where I go in the world I can attend a meeting and feel like I belong, I can always find a connection. As for communication, it’s the cornerstone of this organization, a place where I can practice my communication on a weekly basis.
My time as an expat and now as a Toastmaster has shown me the true value of being a part of a community. It has given me a sense of purpose, a feeling of belonging in a world where to many of us feel alone and disconnected from others.
How could it not only enrich and fulfill your life but also the lives of others as you shared your gifts and your time? And how could being a part of the same community draw us together as human beings rather than tear us apart because we focus on our differences rather than our similarities? I would love to hear your comments on what community has meant to you and if you are searching for how to bring this into your life. It would certainly make for a great coaching conversation!!