November 2007 - True Community
- Definitions: True Community
- Benefits of True Community
- Think about These Things
- Tips for Creating True Community in the Workplace
- Tips for Creating True Community in Your Personal Life
- Resources (links, books, articles, the
lighter side, Fire Safety)
Community: Focusing on What's Important
Definition: Community means a group of people with common
interests or bonds.
The concept of True Community takes this definition further in
recognizing that people must help each other and that they depend on each other
— whether for assistance in furthering a group’s mission or dealing with
True Community implies a deeper commitment than just living in
the same neighborhood or working for the same company. True Community is a
connection of mind, heart and spirit with others who share similar interests or
True Community can be forged through shared common experience, in places such
as Southern California as fires rage out of control (late October 2007).
True Community was forged among those who found themselves in New York in
September 2001, Oklahoma City in April 1995, New Orleans in August 2005, or in
so many other natural and unnatural disasters that might come to mind. It
is at times like these that we realized that we are not alone, that no matter
what happens, one person cannot do everything, that getting through big
challenges is a group effort of shared commitment that brings out the best in
many people. For those who are touched by tragedy yet are not physically
close by, there is an opportunity to participate by giving their treasures
(time, talent or money) or helping in some other way.
True Community can be formed in the workplace by people who learn to trust
each other, depend on each other and feel that they are part of something more
than just a "job" that takes up their time each day. Companies
or organizations that have a compelling mission tend to draw out the best from
the people who work there whether they manufacture products or provide services.
A commitment to co-workers is part of True Community at work. A
willingness to assist when help is needed, a desire to do the best work
possible, an interest in the happiness of co-workers, a motivation to operate
ethically, a need to be competent and professional at all times are just a few
of the factors that comprise a workplace that operates as a True Community.
In a "Community of Heart," people feel like family, whether they
are related biologically or not. They feel a deep emotional connection to
others and are willing to trust them with their deepest feelings.
A "Community of Spirit" implies people share similar spiritual
beliefs, life philosophies or religious beliefs. This type of community
may live in faraway places yet when meeting someone who identifies with your
Community of Spirit, you will feel an almost immediate connection or level of
A "Professional Community" is one of people with the same
occupation, such as doctors, lawyers or store clerks. People doing the
same type of work have a way to relate to each other that people who don’t do
the same work might not understand.
One of the most well-known ways to develop teams is to give a group of people
a challenging task to complete. Programs like fire-walking or survival
adventures use this knowledge to place people in situations where they have to
depend on others. This helps to create trust and make the connections that
allow people to learn how to give and receive support.
In one organization that I’ve worked in, there were two large groups that
did not seem to get along well. We finally were able to break that dynamic
by assigning people from each group to work on a variety of projects where they
had defined roles and tasks to complete. It took a while for the people to
get to know each other and begin to work together. Once that resistance
was broken, individual personality barriers lowered and tangible results were
seen, the groups "forgot" about their past differences and now
regularly work together without the past resistance or rancor that was present
at every encounter several years ago.
Dave Gregg described True Community this way:
Many types of communities exist — more than can be named
at this time — but the real bonding agent that holds them together is the
magnetic draw of tolerance and acceptance.
Obviously there are practical factors in communities, such
as the exchange of goods and services, religious worship, municipal governance
and so forth, but the lessons surrounding tolerance and acceptance provide the
glue that creates a lasting bond. Now such lessons are often pursued
unconsciously, but they are still an overriding influence in any community.
Nancy Gordon describes community this way:
The idea of community has many elements and communities are expressed in
many ways. There are communities of the heart, the mind, the spirit, the
professions, of play, of geography, of every kind of drawing together that
human beings can imagine.
Now, within that geographical space, two or more members may find an
affinity of interest beyond surface considerations such as leaf collection,
taxation and noise levels. They may discover that they share an interest
in sports. This interest may take the form of belonging to groups who
also share this interest. This then becomes another kind of ‘community’
for those so inclined, based on their common attraction to sports, either
watching others actually involved in activities or participating in them
Take the community of the spirit. This is what people who follow a
specific philosophy, spiritual belief or religion belong to. You share a
common interest in the teachings of that belief and you have, by virtue of
that interest, a commonality of purpose. Even the designation ‘International
Community’ is one of spirit. It has no physical expression at all, but
is only a vision of purpose, not necessarily agreed upon but nonetheless
A community of the heart means the sharing of an emotional state.
This is best exemplified in the ties within the human family, but can also be
applied to those who come together to live as family without the element of
kinship. This kind of community is especially based on ‘common
People who enjoy working together and enjoy each other, work much better,
produce better products, give better services and make more money for the
companies they work for. They don't spend their time gossiping, causing
problems, getting behind or slowing down production.
People who love their job usually talk about feeling good about the work they
and about the people they do it with. People who enjoy their work are
happier, healthier, work more, use less sick leave, have few accidents and
Members of a True Community provide a source of great joy and happiness
knowing that someone cares about you. They applaud your successes and look
beyond your mistakes.
A true friend is someone who knows your faults and loves you anyway.
Knowing that a co-worker can pick up a job where you left off, cover you if
you are ill, provide services if you are in a meeting or a cover you in a myriad
of other ways, gives people a good feeling about their work and their
workplace. Customer Service surveys always confirm the benefits of happy
Having a network of friends and people that care about you provides a
"safety net" when something goes wrong. They provide an
emotional cushion against life’s bumps and bruises, and a strong flow of
resources, consolation, comfort and laughter when needed. The people who
can cope the best with tragedy, sudden changes, heartbreak, job loss, death, health issues or
just the general ups-and-downs of life have a good social network and are part
of a True Community somewhere in their life. Ultimately, it's all about
trusting others and feeling safe in the world.
In the communities where fire has destroyed homes this week, how well
people are able to cope, to rebuild and go on with their lives will depend on how connected they
feel to their neighbors and others who can assist them. In the Modjeska
Canyon area where I lived for 9 years, my neighbors showed up to sand bag my
house when a mud slide threatened (before I even knew about the danger) and
alerted me several times when fire evacuations were called. Everyone
watched out for each other and we all made sure our local firefighters always
knew how much we appreciated them. That's the essence True
- How much more could your company accomplish if everyone worked well together
instead of arguing, resisting or debating issues endlessly?
- What are you willing to do to encourage and promote that type of work
- How much better would the world be if we could stop fighting over our
different beliefs and work on our common world challenges?
Sarah Chambers describes the benefits of true
Usually, if there is essence bonding in a community, terrible things just
will not happen. There will be too much work to do and too much
spirituality in the group to allow those terrible things to even come
"Culling the herd" is a characteristic of a good community
leader. The leader must be able to see who is functioning and who is
not. Non-functioning people do not belong in communities, unless the
entire community is built around a specific need, such as care of the aged or
care of children with special orthopedic problems. Beware of those
people who just want to "hang around" with you. They will not
contribute to the community.
José Stevens defined successful communities:
- Have a common theme or vision.
- Are self-pruning; have the capacity to be flexible and change.
- Are a mix of ages with many representatives over thirty-five.
- Empower both females and males and honor their differences.
- Honor both doing and being, dynamic and magnetic forces at play.
- Address survival issues to support the higher vision.
- Have shared leadership that empowers the community.
- Include variety and tolerance for difference without losing focus.
- Are derived out of the environment they are in and use local resources as
much as possible.
- Honor equally the needs for creativity, support, productivity and
- Allow for plenty of humor and show goodwill to their surroundings.
- Make a contribution to and positively influence the larger society.
- Value members’ honesty, awareness and risk taking in the direction of
- Trust their own resilience.
- Work with natural forces and trends within.
- Form beneficial natural alliances with other communities of like vision.
- Fertilize themselves through diversity and encourage variety of interests
by validating others.
- Monitor their own growth and prevent overwhelm through patience.
- Do not promote their own growth but rather seek to fulfill their mission.
- There must be the desire for a deeper connection with others for yourself
or for your group.
- If you are a manager, supervisor or executive, assess where you and your
team members are now. Do they already have some of the attributes of a
true community or does everyone work by themselves and not get along with
others? Does your staff have a desire to work better together?
- Find ways for people to help each other and get to know each other
better. Assign tasks that require more than one person to accomplish
and monitor their progress. Provide teamwork coaching if needed by
someone skilled in that area.
- Rotate assignments. Ask a person who has responsibility for an area
to train someone in how they do their job. Rotations on a regular
basis help keep people’s skills sharp as they move into new areas.
It also provides opportunities for the new person to come in with fresh new
- Talk about teamwork and the benefits it will bring to your work and your
- Be a strong example of teamwork yourself.
- Find occasions to assist your staff. If you work in headquarters,
make time to go out to your regional or field offices on a regular
basis. Get your hands dirty. Do the work your employees do, even
if you are out of practice. McDonalds executives pride themselves on
"flipping hamburgers" occasionally. That type of example
goes a long way toward building trust and improving your ability to
understand the job your staff is doing.
- Encourage your peer managers to talk about their experiences of teamwork
and what works for them. Listen to them. Share your ideas with
- Set up brown bag lunches or book clubs where people can exchange ideas
- Celebrate co-worker's professional accomplishments.
- Allow employees to celebrate birthdays, happy family events, retirements,
new children's births.
- Hold potluck gatherings or other events that are more casual to give staff
an opportunity to get to know their co-workers in a different way.
- Set up regular brain-storming sessions to review what works well and what
could be improved.
- Ask staff for ideas, find ways to implement their ideas and give them
credit for bringing them forward.
- If possible, give rewards for money-saving ideas. Remember that
people are motivated in different ways. Money isn’t always the best
reward. Sometimes, simply the recognition and acknowledge of a person’s
worth to the group is what matters the most to them.
- Encourage people to get together in casual situations – lunches, after
work events, sports teams, etc. where they can see other as real people not
just as co-workers.
- As an organization, participate in neighborhood projects, such as raising
funds to help local fire-stricken residents, fund-raisers for a local school
or a contribute to a major disaster. Show that you care about the
larger community around you.
- If an individual where you work needs help, organize a group effort to
support them in whatever ways make sense.
- Give people time off to assist in volunteer efforts.
- Allow personal or family pictures to be placed in offices and cubicles,
and on computer screen savers.
- Think about what is important to you. What type of people are you
close to now? Are you close to your biological family? Would you
like to have more friends or people who feel like "family" to you?
- Get to know who your neighbors are where you live. You already have
a built-in common interest. Walk up to a neighbor and introduce
yourself when you see them. You’ll be surprised how many people will
appreciate the gesture. Don't wait until a tragedy strikes your
neighborhood to know who lives around you.
- Get to know your local home association members, your local mail carrier
and your local merchants.
- Join a church or spiritual group.
- Join online groups that contain people with interests similar to your own.
- Join professional associations.
- Join parent groups at your children’s schools.
- Join sports organizations or other groups that interest you.
- Volunteer your time for a local community service organization.
- Donate time, money or resources to a worthwhile cause.
Note: We lived in Modjeska Canyon CA for 9 years before
moving to Washington state so this fire has touched our heart and our friends.
- Disclosure: We get a small
commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.
- Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, Bill Clinton.
Knopf , 2007. ISBN-10:
0307266745 ISBN-13: 978-0307266743
- Teamwork: What Must Go Right / What Can Go Wrong, Carl E. Larson,
Frank M J LaFasto. Sage Publications, Inc. 1989. ISBN-10:
0803932901 ISBN-13: 978-0803932906
- The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork Workbook: Embrace Them and Empower
Your Team, John C. Maxwell. Thomas Nelson publisher, 2003. ISBN-10:
0785265767 ISBN-13: 978-0785265764
- 104 Activities That Build: Self-Esteem, Teamwork, Communication, Anger
Management, Self-Discovery, Coping Skills, Alanna Jones. Rec Room
Publishing, 1998. ISBN-10:
0966234138 ISBN-13: 978-0966234138
- Teamwork Is an Individual Skill: Getting Your Work Done When Sharing
Responsibility, Christopher M. Avery, Meri Aaron Walker, Erin
O'Toole. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2001. ISBN-10:
1576751554 ISBN-13: 978-1576751558
- Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork, John C. Maxwell. Thomas Nelson
publisher, 2002. ISBN-10:
0849955084 ISBN-13: 978-0849955082
Related newsletter article:
September, 1996 - Motivating Employees
- There will come a time when you believe everything is
finished. That will be the beginning ~ Louis L'Amour
- A friend is someone who is there for you when they’d rather be somewhere
- Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself
and others. ~ Buddha
- A true friend is someone who knows your faults and loves you
- A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels
your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your
spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities. ~
William Arthur Ward
- Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some
service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service
deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will
make, not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
- I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know:
the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought
and found how to serve.~ Albert Schweitzer
- Friendship quotes http://www.dennydavis.net/poemfiles/frq.htm
Wildfire prevention tips: Ten ways to safeguard your home.
- Clear brush away from the home. The (CA) state laws require 100 feet.
- Don't attach wooden fences to the house.
- Don't keep building materials close to the home.
- Weed, water and thin out greenbelts.
- Make sure to change batteries in your smoke detector.
- Prepare an evacuation plan for your family, including how to get out from the second floor.
- Keep a dry-chemical extinguisher at home.
- Sleep with bedroom doors closed, because many people die of smoke inhalation before the fire gets to them.
- Have a non-flammable roof on your house.
- Have important documents ready to bring with you in case of a fire, to not spend any time collecting things before getting out.
Sources: Firefighters at
Orange County CA Stations 39 and 49. Photo above from Foothill
Ranch, CA (Oct 2007 Santiago Fire)
Photos below from Orange County, CA show the benefits of following the instructions:
Modjeska Canyon, CA home of David Edgar, a
U.S. Forest Safety officer, was saved for the 2nd time by following good fire
prevention techniques (Oct 2007). The burned area used to be vibrant
- I believe this is from the Laguna Beach, CA fire (Oct 1993).
One home left intact and 365 around it destroyed.
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