In work and life, I’ve always been drawn to communities. I seek belonging and there is no better place to find belonging and acceptance than in a community. I find different types of communities fascinating and have made it a personal mission to learn as much as I can about them. To better understand why some communities succeed and others fail, I decided to read The Art of Community by Charles H. Vogl.
How do you define community?
Communities are all around us. Whether we realize it or not, we engage in several communities throughout the day. Vogl defines a community as a group of individuals who share a mutual concern for one another’s welfare. This is an essential definition as it separates a community from a membership, and also a thriving knowledge-based community from a generic “talent community.”
For example, I’m a member of several large organizations. In those organizations, I share the same interest and ideals as many members but I’m generally unaware of others’ existence in those groups. However, in a community like CXR, it is apparent that we each genuinely care for not only each other’s welfare but for each other’s professional success and advancement.
According to Vogl, when we genuinely care about each other’s well-being, we’ll invest more in growing a community with them and we will feel more connected.
The principle of sharing is fundamental here. We share information because we care, and the more we share, the more we will receive. Sharing is a value that is important to every CXR member. Nowhere is that more apparent than in our Community Meetings and eXchanges. Our CXR Community members are on a quest to share information, learn from each other, and improve our processes – all shared values that form the foundation of our community.
Benefits of community
There are several benefits to being a member of an active community like CXR. We don’t have to explain ourselves to others or outsiders. We get it. We share. We learn. We have fun. We all have issues that keep us up at night and we can rest a little more easily knowing that we are in a community in which we can all confidentially share best practices and ideas. We can be open and share our mistakes and fears without judgment or a breach of trust. As Vogl mentions, “We want to feel seen and understood without explaining the parts that outsiders don’t get. We feel more comfortable and safer within the community because of this baseline understanding.”
Vogl’s Principles of Community
The majority of Vogl’s book focuses on the seven principles of a growing or emerging community. The principles are:
- Boundary: The line between members and outsiders.
- Initiation: The activities that mark a new member.
- Rituals: The things we do that have meaning.
- Temple: A place set aside to find our community.
- Stories: What we share that allows others and ourselves to know our values.
- Symbols: The things that represent ideas that are important to us.
- Inner Rings: A path to growth as we participate.
This book helped spark many ideas that I plan on implementing as your CXR community leader. It’s a quick and insightful read with many great takeaways that you can implement in your role as a team leader or community leader.