For the past months, the universe has been whispering to me. Saying that out loud makes my researcher self cringe, but hey, the universe whispered to Einstein too, and he did ok.

Anyway, after multiple hints, this month my needs-to-be-hit-over-the-head-to-notice-things individual mind picked up on these hints, and I thought to myself:

“I’m no longer just studying self-organizing groups like I used to. Groups that I’m able, in my own mind, to see as separate groups. Many of my groups are now overlapping and recreating themselves. The boundaries change too often to keep track of. Most days, it seems, I’m now studying communities within which self-organizing groups form and reform at will. When did that happen? Is there such a thing as a self-organizing community? There appears to be. What the heck is a self-organizing community?”

Honestly, I also thought “Thank God I’m not working at a university at the moment, because I can’t imagine explaining that I just recognized what I’ve actually been studying (in addition to what I was conscious I was studying) most of this year in a formal setting. Fortunately, those of you reading this—my community—will likely encourage me, question and stretch me, and forgive me, as needed. How do I know this? Because you already do so every single day.

Practice evolution

How my practice is evolving right now:

  1. I appear to be studying self-organizing communities. My own self-organizing groups now regularly overlap, create, and then recreate themselves into new, different groups. This is making it too difficult to study them as independent groups, and keep track of their numbers, because their boundaries keep changing (as in “I’m studying 35 groups, no now 32, no now 34, no now 28…”). I have to think of them as communities to reflect what is happening in my own life and around the groups I study. Also, in part, to make my work life still do-able (as in “Hey. Those 38 or so moving, interweaving groups I’ve been killing myself to keep track of separately are actually all one community!”).
  2. Smaller groups still matter. Although I’m now consciously focusing on the community as a whole instead of separate smaller groups, I still study self-organizing groups. It’s just that now I recognize that many of the groups that appear separate today are likely to reform, change, and reemerge as other groups. I know that many of these smaller groups may be recognized by me and others as part of larger communities eventually.
  3. The importance of individuals is coming clearer. The importance of the individual is coming back onto my radar. Think this is related to living and thinking at the community level much of the time, not sure. But I’ll be writing more about the importance of individuals—and the relationship between self-organizing individuals, groups, and communities—in the coming year. My friend Doug and I are already doing this in an ebook we’re co-creating right now. This is just ridiculously fun work for me. Creative energy pours out of this collaboration and hidden ideas emerge daily! Wow. I can’t believe how lucky I am to be doing this!
  4. I’m working on defining “self-organizing community” for myself. At the moment this is in my mind: “The larger collective that becomes visible to self-organizing groups and floods them with even more gratitude.” This definition is fluid and evolving daily for me at the moment. I’ll create full posts on this later after I get more input from my community.
  5. My work is getting easier, giving me time to become and do more. For example, I don’t have to go looking for new groups to study anymore because my community finds (and becomes) them for me. And now, most days, my community puts better examples and ideas directly into my hands than I’d ever have time or energy to search for and find on my own. I also don’t have to plan what I’m going to write about anymore. The groups I’m part of and studying are consistently amazing, so whatever is happening in the moment, thanks to my community, works for me. I need only dip my cup into the river that is the community that moment. I feel more like a highlighter pen for human amazingness than a researcher or writer anymore, because most days my individual perspective cannot improve upon what these amazing communities are already doing. Most days, my community improves me as an individual and us as self-organizing groups, not the other way around. I help simply by doing what I love to do: documenting the heck out of what’s happening within and around them.

I’d appreciate your help

I’d like your help defining what self-organizing community means. What does this mean to you, based on your own experience and imagination? Drop me an email (, or a comment here, or an idea on twitter or facebook, or if you’re close by, let’s go to coffee to talk about it. My deepest thanks in advance.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about how my own self-organizing community helped me hear the hints the universe was sending my way.

 In the meantime, here are some shots of my own self-organizing community…

Best goofy grin photo of myself from the past months...

Humility and gratitude in SOGs

Three flash mobs in the rain--I'm a wreck but Lady Gaga's still looking perfect!


Self-organizing consultants group

My beautiful 99-year-old grandma!

Self-organizing doctoral student group

Self-organizing doctoral student group


A fearless 23-year-old leader

A fearless 23-year-old leader