Merriam-Webster defines community as “a unified body of individuals…with a common history or common social, economic, and political interests.” It’s also representative of “a social state or condition.” At our core, we human beings are all connected.
Is Community Lost?
Professor Kelly Goldsmith is a scarcity expert at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management. In a recent Business Insider issue, she commented on the current Coronavirus panic buying that empties shelves of hand sanitizer, bottled water, and toilet paper. She wrote, “when people are experiencing personal scarcity, they want to protect themselves first.”
We humans can be quite altruistic in times of plenty. But, introduce a threat to our personal well-being and we transform into self-preservation mode.
Our U.S. society and culture rewards independence and self-reliance. That works well when everything is going smoothly. When you introduce disruptions like strong political posturing, scarcity, or Coronavirus, we tend not to focus on the greater good. Instead, we concentrate on what is best for us.
Author Lance Secretan has written extensively about the separateness that permeates today’s modern workplaces and beyond. We label people by race, ethnicity, religion, politics, income, gender, and age. Our business structures include functional silos based on specialty areas. We even define our competitor and vendor relationships as mostly adversarial.
All of this logic flies in the face of who we are as human beings. Our need for love and acceptance is so strong that most of us spend our entire lives trying to achieve it.
Which prompts me to suggest that embracing community might help us weather the current crisis facing our nation and the world.
A Few Starter Ideas.
- Pay more attention to the most vulnerable. I love older persons and have many friends who are at risk because of compromised health and immune systems. We must support quarantines that protect them from exposure to the virus. However, we must not forget about them. Regular phone calls, emails, and video chats will be essential to their emotional and physical health until circumstances improve.
- Stop the blame game. We are wasting time and intellectual resources on trying to find a culprit. There have been plenty of mistakes made by multiple parties, and likely more to come. Calling others incompetent or irresponsible doesn’t make you smarter or more trustworthy. Actions speak louder than words. Compassion and cooperation are needed, and that includes with those whom we disagree.
- Focus more on what unites us. Uncertainty and tough times are not new. Our world has suffered calamities in the past and will face more in the future. Perhaps this crisis holds promise and potential. We have already seen innovative responses to developing test kits and potential vaccines. Leadership should come together and show society they can put aside personal and partisan differences.
There are many more ways to embrace community in this uncertain time. Modify policies to show flexibility and care for employees. Take extra steps to promote safety for workers and customers. Show restraint when posting on social media. Acknowledge the hard work of government and health care workers. Pray for healing and hope. You may add your own.
A Higher Calling
My faith in a Higher Power has always sustained me in challenging times. I’m not blindly believing that everything will be great. My business will suffer financially. I know people will die or get sick. Some of them might be family or friends. It could even be me. That’s my reality.
“My dear brothers and sisters, we are already one. But we imagine we are not.” – Thomas Merton
Embracing community has been much of my life’s work these past 18 years. I love to teach, coach, and mentor leaders to become a better version of themselves. My approach has always been to inspire others by modeling a servant heart and generous spirit.
How will you embrace community as you lead in these turbulent times? Share your thoughts.
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