Gerry and I recently returned from a 15-day trip to Burning Man, our third adventure to one of the most incredible communities and learning experiences I have ever been a part of. For me, Burning Man is both personal and professional. Not professional in the sense that work is a constant topic of discussion (asking someone on the playa what they do for a living is frowned upon) but each year I bring back no shortage of ideas, revelations, and methodologies I’d like to consider implementing here into our CXR community. While I’ll be talking more about some of these things in coming weeks (subscribe to our podcast!), one point of interest that warrants a callout is the idea of inclusion within communities.
Countless organizations say they are all-inclusive, with free content that anyone can contribute – but I would argue that a true and healthy community is never all-inclusive. Even in the most free of groups there are likely experience, financial, or conduct requirements. On its surface, this realization may not be an “ah ha!” moment but it has already sparked deep conversations about what defines a community and its expectations, and what compels us to want to be part of one and not another. The need for belonging and complete acceptance that seems to be baked into our DNA is balanced delicately with the desire to be part of something exclusive on some level.
This was clearly illustrated to me on a personal level… My partner chose to join me on the playa this year and watching her experience the creation of Black Rock City and its ~75,000 citizens for the first time was a wonderful gift. Her amazement, screaming laughter, and quiet tears all reminded me that every healthy community has limitations and that setting expectations honestly about what the community stands for, hopes to achieve, and what type of people it will take for the community to be successful is more important than it’s ever been.
I challenge you to look closely at the communities you choose to be part of and ask yourself what pulls you in and keeps you engaged. Then double down on that effort while questioning those boundaries and any sentiments of complete inclusion.
This letter appeared in the September edition of CXR’s monthly Bellwether. Subscribe here to receive a copy each month.