Part of the hard work of building a solid, stable, lasting foundation for our lives is the willingness to take your own inventory. An inventory tells you what you have too little of, too much of, and what’s just right, for right now. But how do you take an inventory of your community?
Your own personal “world wide web”
The image of a unified body and its separate parts helps us think about the experience of community. The body is a whole, yet it consists of many parts, each performing its own specialized function, to keep itself healthy and flourishing. In order to experience healthy and flourishing community these various elements should be present:
- Family of origin
- Healthy models, in the form of mentors, sponsor, counselors, spiritual directors
- Peers, older folks (getting increasingly hard for me to find!), younger folks, children, and animals
This is your personal “world wide web.” In order to profit from your experience of community, you need to keep your eyes, ears and hearts open to the lessons constantly flowing to you from the people around you.
As I suggested in my previous post, quoting from The Spirituality of Imperfection, people “connect with each other most healingly, most healthily, not on the basis of common strengths, but in the very reality of their shared weaknesses.” As the poet said, “No man is an island entire of itself.”
“The six people you need”
There are many ways to envision this mutual dependency. Here’s one way, in the context of your work lives. In her 2012 article in Forbes magazine, “The Six People You Need in Your Corner,” Jessica Hagy recommends that you identify and connect with six specific types of friends:
- The Instigator is the person who provokes, motivates, inspires you, who give you the initial push out of your comfort zone.
- The Cheerleader is the person who believes in you unfailingly (even when you fail!) and will stick with you to the end.
- The Doubter is the “devil’s advocate,” the “doubting Thomas,” who isn’t afraid to rub your face in the harsh realities of your situation.
- The Taskmaster is the person who keeps you going when the going gets tough, when you want to lay down or give in.
- The Connector is a “gate-keeper,” someone who knows people, who knows how to network, and who can help you gain access to people.
- The Example is the person whose life and work you want to emulate. You want to be like her or him, or better, you want to be your own unique version of her or him.
The first step in building a solid, stable life is getting connected to, and staying connected with, a diverse community, characterized by safety, empathy and acceptance. Together we all constitute, not a perfect community, but a healthy community, a healing community, a loving community, and a fruitful community.
Need some help taking your own “community inventory”? Write or call, and let’s work on it together.