Community - What can it give you?

Community.

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.

What could having a sense of community in your life bring you?

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!!

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Comments

Community. Yes! Humans are driven to connect with others. In "the olden days," community bolstered our survival.

I wish there was a magic potion that would guide people toward a revelation similar to yours, Linda. My goodness, what a happier bunch we would be if we took pride in working with others toward a goal instead of individually. We don't need to do it all by ourselves, and I'm learning that we can give others a sense of joy by graciously accepting their help.

I read a beautiful passage on this very topic in "The Soul of Money." I will be sure to pass it along in the next few days.

Thanks for being part of my community, Linda!

Thanks for posting Merideth and I look forward to reading the passage you refer to. I am very grateful that you are also a part of my community, perhaps together we can help guide more people towards this revelation, that having a sense of community in one's life leads to a more fulfilling existence. It would certainly resolve the loneliness many are feeling these days.

What I hear in this post, Linda, is that we can help to build our own sense of community by GIVING to the communities around us. We usually attach ourselves to a group or join something to GET, and it is only when we shift to GIVING that we truly receive the benefits and feel that sense of belonging!

I agree Kristin. The two examples of community in my life were originally joined to "get" something for myself. In both experiences it soon shifted to "giving" and I found the reward for me was even greater after that. Thanks for reading!

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