I had a thought this morning, and I’m not sure exactly where it came from. Here it is in tweet form:
I like communities where people think, “If you get stronger, don’t we all get stronger?” And therefore help each other get stronger.
— Barrett Brooks (@BarrettABrooks) February 7, 2014
When it comes to building community, I think this has to be at the essence of it.
It applies in countless settings, but here are three that help elaborate on the point I’m making.
When we were still in the hunter/gatherer stage of societal development (and some small pockets of the world still are), this theory of community building made sense. The more I help a fellow hunter increase his strength and become a better archer or spear thrower, the more likely we are to eat well tonight, tomorrow, and in the foreseeable future. The more I am able to teach my fellow gatherers to identify what is edible, what is not, what will kill us, and what will provide us with the most nutrition, the more likely we are all to stay healthy and happy.
For sports teams, the concept perhaps applies to an even greater degree, and yet it is ignored by so many athletes from pros to amateurs. You see it repeatedly, especially with the “superstar effect” whereby a person thinks they’re so good they don’t owe anything to anyone. Rather than build their teammates up, the superstar often tears his teammates down as a way of showing his superiority.
The alternative, of course, is clear. Look at a QB like Peyton Manning and the effect he has had on Knowshon Moreno’s career. He has helped Moreno revive a sputtering early career, likely setting him up for a sizeable future contract despite the fact that many teams had already written Moreno off before Peyton came to town. In helping Knowshon become an important part of the Bronco’s offense, Peyton became stronger and it contributed to his record setting passing season. The same applies to many athletes who chose to make their teammates stronger with the belief that it makes everyone better.
Finally, the same applies to startup and business teams. One of the great tragedies in business is when a key leader fails to see the value of employee training and development. At the same time, colleges and universities have fallen further and further behind in the value they provide to students as the industrial education system becomes more irrelevant by the day. I love this quote, which represents the two fundamental attitudes many business people have about training and development:
The alternative to the fear-based, limited-pie-size mentality is one of abundance. “What happens if we don’t and they stay,” is the embodiment of the belief that when I help you get better, I get better. It relates back to the idea that the best way to learn is to teach. When every person in an organization or community believes that it is a fundamental part of their job to make the people around them better, it makes everyone better.
I choose to be part of communities that believe this:
“If you grow stronger, don’t I also grow stronger? If you become better, don’t we all become better?”
What do you think? Where have you seen this in action? Are you part of any communities that have this kind of mentality? Do any communities come to mind that take a different approach but are still successful?