Today, I’m wrestling with community

It’s been a tough week here in Queenstown.  We’re wrestling with frustration, confusion and our love for living in this place.

This week’s events got me thinking about what it is to move beyond a network to true community – it’s messy, we don’t always seem to make progress and everyone’s got a different opinion on what’s right.

But that’s also the point – where I can choose to present a face to my network that’s cleansed, prep’d and well groomed​​​​… community is about all the raw bits and the vulnerability and the not-so-goods that you can’t hide.

In this week’s video I’m trying to tease out this process, and what’s gonna get us through.​​

Video transcript and relevant links

Hey! So this week I wanted to talk about the difference between community and network.  This is about my fifth time trying to record this video today and for some reason it’s become really really hard.

It’s feeling inauthentic it’s feeling like we’re just scratching a surface.  What triggered me to want to record this video this week, is that here in Queenstown we’re in the middle of our summer tourism period, we’re also in the middle of fire season and we’ve had a really really tough week.

We’ve had a number of car accidents on the road, some of which have been fatal, and the whole community is just reeling.  This group of people who live here are just devastated by what’s going on. They’re incredibly frustrated at the lack.. The unnecessary nature of what’s happening.  It’s stirred up a lot of stuff that is not nice, and pointing the finger, and all those things and part of why I wanted to talk about this topic today is that we’re right in the middle of this really messy aspect of the community.

So when I was in Melbourne and part of the project management communities over there, I used to attend regular networking events, we’d have chances to meet up and learn and share with other people who did a similar job to us, you know, you’re always meeting people through your job, and it was very much a network.

It was something that at the end of the day you’d go home and you’d put it to one side and and you get off the rest of your life.  These people, beautiful, wonderful as they were, and you know we shared connections about passion for what we’re doing… and yet, it wasn’t… it didn’t have the same depth as some of the connections that I’ve found here, in a small town, volunteering as a member of the local fire brigade.

So as a member of the fire brigade we will get called out to accidents, same as an ambulance officer.  There’s about 10-15 in our local brigade. And these are people, some of whom I see very very rarely, we maybe pass on the street, in a small town.  Others of whom are good friends and colleagues and we see a lot of each other and all of whom are very very diverse. Very different people, different communication styles, different upbringings, different backgrounds, different values.

I think what’s really struck me, is seeing some of the things you do, and going through some of the things that you do, this team becomes like family.  They are there for you 24/7. You have a connection that goes beyond simply the face that you choose to present to the world, and gets into the messy, gritty, “this is me under pressure”, “this is me at my worst”, “this is me when I’m breaking down”  AND “this is me, when I’m on form, performing at my best, nailing it”.

I guess it’s been really interesting to contrast and compare the two.  Because I think in business a lot of the time we focus on building the network.  Because it’s safe, because we can do it a way where we show up and present a face to the world – and that gives us a little bit of safety too.

But the benefit of aspiring towards community, as something that is greater than simply a network, it’s a leap of faith.  It requires you to get down and dirty and messy.

We have a local Facebook group here in Queenstown, which has been bombarded with photos and commentary and some of it has been pretty horrific over the last couple of weeks.

To see today, a slight change in some of the way that the comments are coming through, people being vulnerable and saying “I’m really struggling with this”.  And “I’m trying to do something that I think is good, but it’s coming off as bad” – that messy toing and froing, and that grey matter, and that not knowing what’s right, it’s not black and white anymore.

All of that messiness, all of that raw vulnerability is something that you have to traverse if you’re to get from simply a network, to true community.

And I think the other thing that’s really struck me within the brigade, is watching this very diverse group of people come together and part of… probably one of the biggest factors in why we have such a strong sense of community in that group – is that we are all so driven by a purpose.

All of us show up for different reasons, but we all share this belief around service to community.  We’re here because we want to create a better world for our neighbours, our friends, our colleagues, people we meet on the street, people visiting here, and that core purpose is something that binds us together as a group and helps get us through the really messy stuff.

So I’m going to continue wrestling with this today and I guess I’m really keen to hear your comments back as well.  Where do you see the show up in your environment? Work environment, home environment?

And let’s start to tease out some of the subtlety around this.  Because the benefit of getting to that place where you’ve got a group of people that are truly knitted together and have shared the best of times and the worst of times… the benefit that comes from that, and the deeper sense of security as a group.. It’s just incredible to witness and to be a part of.

I’m Danelle Jones, tribe Leadership Retreats, thank you so much for your time.  I’d love to hear your comments in the comments section below.

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