Last week my coach planted the seed that we can build community within ourselves. "How would I build community inside myself and what would that mean," I wondered.
I thought about the characteristics of a community:
- Diverse base of people
- Competing elements
- Defined by a physical space (traditionally)
Then I thought about some things successful communities do:
- Balance priorities, consider the diverse system and protect the vulnerable
- Honor the physical space
- Share a common purpose and vision
- Make progress, expanding beyond outdated rules, norms, thoughts and actions.
When listing these characteristics, it became clear that we can absolutely build community inside ourselves:
We have different selves that need to be recognized, celebrated, nurtured and protected. When you're feeling out of balance, one or more of your selves is left behind. Perhaps your professional self has taken over and your physical self suffers. Or maybe your creative self is squashed by your parent self. Building community within yourself takes leadership that recognizes all of your diverse and interconnected selves. What is your most vulnerable self that needs protection? What priorities might you shift so that your forgotten selves can re-emerge? How can you consider the whole system of selves when making decisions?
Honor the Physical Space
We rely on public services to maintain a healthy community. Trash collection and sewage lines ensure our waste doesn't spread disease. As the leader of yourself, make sure the "waste" inside of you has a way to escape. Those negative thoughts can literally spread disease. Exercise, journaling and therapy are all productive ways of purging your trash. Just as cities make room for open space to encourage relaxation and play, remember that you need a break from the hustle and bustle too. Honor your physical space with food, exercise, meditation and playtime. How could you build a more sustainable community inside yourself? What life practices honor your physical space?
Shared Purpose and Vision
A shared purpose and vision helps you see the big picture, especially when you're balancing so many diverse parts in the system. Just as a community makes a plan before it builds a road, take some time to consider where you're going and what you hope to find at the end of your journey. Your purpose and vision help to elevate your thinking beyond today's events so you can build the legacy you want to leave. If you had to guess at your life's purpose, what would it be? How do you hope the world will be different as a result of your life?
Thriving communities recognize that rules and norms that once served the system might now hinder its progress. As you move through life, consider what rules, norms, thoughts and actions no longer serve you. We evolve when we can expand to new ways of seeing the world. What "laws" that once protected you are now stifling your growth? What changes in your personal policy should you make to keep up with the times?
Recognizing the different pieces of yourself can make you feel fractionated. The more you honor those different selves and appreciate how they interconnect, the more whole and peaceful you'll feel. Celebrate the diverse community that bustles inside of you. Take care of each of your many selves, especially the most vulnerable. Your greatest leadership opportunity lies within yourself.