Lean on Me

The importance of community is well understood. We have heard the many quotes before, such as:

“It takes a village to raise a child”
“Two heads are better than one”
“We all need somebody to lean on”

But community often goes much deeper than the physical spaces which they occupy. Communities are held together by relationships and a shared vision. And if you’re working toward a personal goal, it might take the power of a group of people working together, or at least supporting you in that goal, to make it happen. Sometimes we find that we are not good at asking for the help we need from our family, friends or co-workers. However; if we don’t speak up, no one knows we need their help and they won’t be able to guess our needs unless we let them know.

Whatever you’re working on right now, whether its a personal project or a professional one, answer these questions below to evaluate how strong the relationships are around you to support you. Your communities can include family, friends, cultural/spiritual communities, online communities, people with whom you share interests or work with, and the local community where you live. Since our lives are complex and intertwined, many of these communities might intersect. Take this into consideration when you’re thinking through the list and note who the person or people are that you think of as you answer each question.

Do the people around me:...

  • Support one another and communicates often?

  • Feel they can be open and honest with one another?

  • Challenge one another to be better?

  • Are there for each other during difficult times?

  • Positively influence and act as role models for others?

  • Are comfortable giving constructive feedback?

  • Find strength in being together?

  • Feel valued and useful?

  • Work together for positive change?

If you answered “yes” to the majority of statements of this list, the state of the community you’re evaluating is strong. This exercise is a good one to evaluate which relationships to spend the most time on and which to spend less time on. Were there any people that you didn’t list that you are surprised about? Did any of the statements stand out to you? What are your personal relationships that need the most improvement? Were there any you want to improve? Are there other relationships that you can spend less time on based on the lack of support you are receiving? Once you’ve evaluated each of these areas, think about ways you can help strengthen your essential relationships to help you reach your goals and help others reach theirs.

 

Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, everybody needs the help of others to truly reach each of our potential. We need to have communities in our lives that build us up and support us in our goals. It’s easy to want to set out on your own and reach your goals independently, but we often get discouraged this way, lose site of our goals, or become influenced or distracted by the “shiny objects” that are thrown our way.

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How could you contribute to the people that support you? The first steps could be to create a better method of communication, building a trusted network within the larger community, to open up about your goals and concerns, and hold people accountable for their own. If you can maintain a better state of your communities today, you will be much more likely to reach your goals — and help others reach theirs. Remember, communities can be found and created anywhere you go, but it’s up to the people within them to maintain a culture of strength and perseverance to make them successful.