This past week was a tough one for me. My grandmother passed away, and there’s been an unshakable ache in my chest all week as I learn to move with the loss. I haven’t felt like doing much of anything, so I haven’t. Then, along comes my friend Bob Petruska, a consultant who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He asked one of his own self-organizing groups to reflect on the benefits of the group, created a video of some of their responses, and sent it to me–a kind act that just wrote my blog for me this week–a week I REALLY needed help. What a guy. Thank you Bob. Here is his video…
Bob and I are also a self-organizing group. Bob found me several years ago, when I first started blogging, and reached out to say hello. We may live on opposite sides of the country, and do different work, but we were drawn together by a shared love of working as (and talking about) self-organizing work groups. We also both love Meg Wheatley. We’re also both stepping away from full-time work within large organizations to try something different for ourselves and our families. This conscious step away from what was normal work for us is scary, and I feel better knowing that Bob is out there taking similar tentative steps and leaps on his own path–someone I can commiserate with and ask a question of, as needed. We’re also very different. He’s an expert on a myriad of things I know relatively little about, including Lean and Six Sigma. Although we’ve yet to work together, we talk occasionally via email, via Skype, and via comments on this blog. Bob is kind, shows up to learn, and is open and generous–all things I aspire to myself. He even surprised me on my birthday last year with an iTunes gift card. That was cool.
How Bob and I are a self-organizing group…
- Our group is more internally created than externally created. We allow ourselves to be drawn together by both our similarities (a comfort) and our differences (learning opportunities).
- Our group is more emergent (appearing to arise spontaneously) than planned.
- We are surprised and delighted to find ourselves friends today–a relationship that doesn’t end even when our work together does.
The community that Bob and I are part of…
The people highlighted in Bob’s video are a self-organizing group for him. For me, they have just become community members. They are people who took a leap of faith and decided to trust me, because they trust Bob. They allowed themselves to be videotaped public speaking–something they are learning to do together. Extraordinarily brave you are, people of Charlotte, North Carolina–public speaking scares me to death! Thanks to Bob, I now know that it’s ok to trust these brave people. Although they are technically strangers to me, I would open my front door to them, and welcome them in, without giving it a second thought today. Trusting strangers and allowing them to come close (emotionally local is my Seattle-researcher-nerd term for it). That’s community. And that’s the power of community.
Within self-organizing groups, I drop my individual fears long enough to see community that I couldn’t before see or imagine was even there. As community, we make new self-organizing groups possible. And we change ourselves and our world for the better.
Thank you brave people of Steele Creek Toastmasters. Your generosity is a gift to everyone reading this and a particular gift for me, who you helped during a time of mourning the loss of my dear grandma. I wish you long, happy lives free of the “ahs” and “ums” in your public speeches that you desire and full of laughter and forgiveness when they do sneak in.
Lori, I quote you
Our group is more internally created than externally created. We allow ourselves to be drawn together by both our similarities (a comfort) and our differences (learning opportunities).
A fantastic balancing of opposites. The passing away of your grandma is the action that moved you away from your comfort zone! Sometimes we need this to balance our lives and write great stuff like this post
Here comes an idea of new definition for community: community is the other force that restores balance in our lives (If we suffer from too much comfort then community is the learning opportunity and vice versa)
Sometimes, earthquake-like incidents they have the simultaneity of disrupting our lives, but meanwhile uncovering the pearls beneath.
Hey Ali, I love what you say.
You know, I’ve been interviewing groups that deeply love their work the past few months. All of them have spoken about better quality of life, living a good life, or having better work/life balance or integration. I’ve yet to hear someone say “Life gets easier!” when staying on a path of doing work you love, and yet they all say that their lives–and those around them–have become better, richer, fuller lives. In my experience, this makes life feel a bit easier. 🙂
I experience community as a force for that–a force for improving quality of life and deepening connection to ourselves and others. A force that’s around us and also within us, and generated by us, if we open ourselves to it. And I experience self-organizing groups as very effective and efficent individual self openers. 🙂
Lori, an innocent question for you- do you find more pleasure people commenting on your blog or on facebook as a social community venue? I mean the community of facebook or more like a family community, which is your blog
Hey Ali, asking me that question is a bit like asking a parent which child they love more! 🙂
I enjoy engaging with others on the subjects of community, self-organizing groups, learning, living a full, abundant life, and doing work we love anywhere and how people want to engage.
I enjoy talking to you here because you and I have been able to have long conversations, and get closer, which are really my favorite kinds of conversations–those that stretch us and don’t end. This week I’m opening my home as a free co-working space one day/week, so that I can find more people in my neighborhood and surrounding community willing to have this kind of ongoing conversation. We eventually plan to convert the rental cottage behind our home into a community learning/teaching/co-working space to build this more permanently into our community and lives.
Most of the other blog commentors comment via Facebook. I’m part of multiple cool online groups there–Next Edge, SOCAP, Presente!, Co-Working Worldwide, etc. I love these conversations because more people in my community chime in and get to know each other. I love watching people from different parts of my life talk to each other. I get most of my news now through the recommendations of the diverse community there. The down side there is that the conversations aren’t as in-depth as I myself like, but it’s not all about me. 😉
A few folks comment via Twitter, and those tend to be brief one-to-one conversations because I don’t use Twitter enough to have much community there. Just a personal preference–I dislike Twitter’s short character limits.
Daniel loves Twitter and is becoming part of a vast photographer community there.
More and more of my community–collections of people who found me via my blog and invited me via Facebook to be part of their communities/groups (social innovators, social entrepreneurs, alternative educators, plus the co-working community)–is moving to Google+ as well. Have begun to have short conversations in Google+ as well and anticipate more there. There my community is growing rapidly because several people have created “Circles” with me in them–a Writer’s circle, a Next Edge circle, a Fun People circle–and then shared those circles with everyone they know. So while I painstakingly grew my Facebook friends list to 250 people I love, in Google+ my community is deciding my reach. There are already 300ish people who have me in their Google+ circles. It’s fascinating to watch!
Mostly I’m just thrilled to have these conversations wherever, whenever, and however others want to have them, and I feel lucky to be alive during a time when there are so many ways to connect!
Thanks, Lori for giving me a gift- your deep and thorough response. This way you encourage me to keep asking you.
A short note on your comment on Twitter. I published last week a presentation on slideshare and the use of Twitter as a strategic tool. I only scratched the surface; but possibilities are bewildering
How Different Works is shaping up?
Thank you, Lori. Absolutely love this gift!
You’re welcome, Bob, although you’re the one that gave me the gift!!
Hey Ali, I checked out your Twitter deck last week. Very nice. I’ll pass on to Daniel, who loves Twitter. And thanks for the advice about signing that petition. Studying self-org groups has turned me into someone disinclined to make individual judgments from a distance.
Work on Different Work is coming along nicely now. We gathered stories the past 3 months and we’re now writing them (a few people created their own). I’m writing about 3 each week this month trying to finish by first week of March. A long process! It involves listening and relistening to audio tapes, writing, asking storytellers to review/improve, and then gathering photos and videos and other things to accompany the written stories. I’m having such a good time being a Community Story Wrangler (a new title Bas inspired me to invented) that almost by accident I’ve found two additional projects gathering stories for emerging communities here in Seattle later this year. Might be time to hang up my Researcher hat/title. Every time I call myself a Community Story Wrangler these days amazing people show up and want to work together. 🙂
your e-book shall be a hit. I promise you.
Greetings to Daniel. How did he like (or dislike) the presentation on Twitter?
BTW: does Daniel belong to any self-organizing group? Has this “virus” affected him? Sometime we convince others, but then realize that the dearest to us haven’t been
Have a great day (evening)
Daniel loved the Twitter deck and told me he started following you on Twitter. 🙂 He’s DJGphoto.
Yes, he belongs to self-organizing groups–at work, hobbies, and at home–and is also very interested in finding/building/becoming community as well. I’m such a work-focused human being that he teased a few years back “I notice that you turned us all into self-organizing groups so we’d be even more interesting!” referring to my family and friends. 🙂
From my perspective, the experience of community and self-organizing groups matters most, because the experience fosters belief in yourself and others. Anyone who interacts with me/us gets that experience. What people believe or don’t believe about self-organizing groups and community doesn’t matter as much to me as it used to. Finding and fostering the lived experience is where deeper joy sits for me.
Stumbled across this whilst browsing the big wide web and it moved me to comment – what a lovely reminder this served as to me about the power and strength one can find in communities. All the best to you and yours. Thank you very much for sharing.
Thank you, Luke, for sharing. All the best to you and yours!