Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why a circle?

We all talk in shorthand, offering small snapshots of what we're trying to say or describe. I'm no better - I may proudly try to avoid acronyms but my stories are filled with personal images and a lexicon that isn't immediately obvious.

Think about that! the next time you are attempting to explain something you are passionate about to other people.

I attended a wonderful lecture on leadership and its relationship to the thought process of an architect (check out the Moosewilson Project It was a terrific mental push around the precept that we create our own way forward. Very cool.

We spoke after the lecture and he asked me if I was comfortable with using the term "personal community" as it meant something to him but wasn't it too trite for general use? So I thought, as per above, that I would try and explain.

Communities come in all shapes and sizes. You can have community centres (in neighbourhoods), communities of practices (business), community watch (neighbours) etc. You can build a community around any shared interest, skill or geographic designation.

I visualize a community as a circle. You can put yourself at the centre of a circle but you are also often a part of someone else's - overlapping circles: mutual friends; local chapters of a larger organization; etc. with the overlap being a lot or just on the edges. I call that phenomenon "similar circles".

Your circles can be as wide and as deep as you are willing to maintain. Circles need care and feeding. Some are easier to join than others but all of them require time and attention. Think of the communities where you are not at the centre and see if you don't feel more engaged when you are actively involved or even have simple acknowledgement of your continued participation.

So personal communities are not necessarily ones where everyone is my closest friend. They are the shared concerns (people, career, interests, etc.) that fill my life - it's personal! My circles are small but I strive for many many overlaps.

Seth Godin calls communities - "tribes".

What fascinates me are the overlaps - bridging folks from one circle to another and creating yet a third option. Similar roots, similar circles - personal choices, personal communities.

It may be trite to others...but it resonates for me.

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