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Creating Successful Leaders

community

We are social creatures. Take a moment to consider where we would be without our ability to work together. Let’s go back, way back, to the very first humans. What did they have to contend with? Large, carnivorous beasts? Check. Extreme climates and unpredictable weather patterns? Check. Other human-like primates fighting for land? Oh yeah.

Now, consider the average human being. Between 5-6 feet tall, mostly hairless, not too strong. Any common wild animal could tear a person apart. Humans can’t fly, aren’t especially fast runners. No claws, no sharp teeth, no protective shielding for their soft skin. Compared to most other successful creatures on the planet, we humans are pretty weak.

So why, when we look anywhere on the globe today, are humans the clear top dogs?

Community.

We are more intelligent than other animals, yes, but it was our ability to use our bigger brains to cooperate that made all the difference.

Don’t worry, this hasn’t turned into an anthropology blog. I’m looking back in time in order to give clarity to the state of the typical modern life. Much of our stress, unhappiness and discontent can be traced back to an imbalance in community, a neglect of maintaining our life teams.

In many ways, we’ve fashioned little protective cocoons in all areas of living today. We drive in heated, wheeled boxes we call cars, we plug into portable musical devices at all waking hours, we’re more concerned  with our smartphones than we are with what’s going on in our immediate vicinity. Behaviors like these can work against our need for vibrant community.

So how do we return to what made us successful as a species in the first place?

1. Be Present. Think about your average day, and take note of the times you spend “plugged in” on phones, computers or music devices. Limit yourself to using these devices only when you need them. It’s also fine to give yourself a little free time for web surfing or phone games, but keep track of how often you plug in for fun, and always give your attention to what’s going on around you over what’s happening online. Make a point to engage in the moment, wherever you are. Being present allows you to see the opportunities for connection all around you. And when you’re present, others will feed off this, which creates an environment ripe for community-building.

2. Become a key part of a group. Strong communities are ones which utilize the strengths of every individual in order to achieve a common goal. Hopefully you know your strengths (and if you don’t, check out the Insights assessment on my site!), and can be able to see where your skills or abilities would help others.

3. Stay proactive about meeting people, spending time with people, and sharing your life with those around you. The hardest part about belonging to a strong community is the work and maintenance involved. Many people have marveled at how strong my relationship with my neighbors is. We have numerous neighborhood parties, cook-outs and traditions. Our doors are always open, and none of us hesitate to ask to borrow some brown sugar or a snow shovel. I always tell people who ask that this didn’t just happen. We all have to plan and really work to keep the traditions going. We also have to be present during tough times, ready to assist each other even when we ourselves are swamped with tasks. But it’s all worth it.

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