In the first part of this article series, I wrote about the different types of community and invited you to identify what your current connections might look like. Then, I asked you to think about and make a list of the different communities you currently belong to. In order to begin to bridge the gaps in your community, you have to first look at your answers to the following questions:
- How do I fit in to each space?
- What are my roles in each space?
- What are some of the ways that I contribute and serve in each space?
- Are there any gifts, talents, ideas, strengths, or other resources that I can offer to better serve my community/ies?
- Is there anything that I need that I am NOT getting from my community/ies?
Let’s take a closer look and break these down to see where you may be experiencing gaps:
1- How do I fit in?
After you’ve identified the different communities you are connected to, you will want to take a look at where you currently see yourself fitting in to each defined space. Are you newer to the group, or a veteran presence? Do you tend to be interactive and heavily involved, or more of an observer? Are you happy with how you fit in, or is there a more authentic and satisfying way that you would like to show up? Understanding where you are now is the first step in deciding if that’s where you want to remain.
2- What are my roles?
You’ve identified your communities, and you’ve recognized where you currently fit in. Narrowing down to define the different roles you play in each space is your next step. Where are you a Leader? Where are you a Colleague or Collaborator? Where are you a Supporter? Where are you a Student? Where are you a Contributor? Where are you an Enforcer? In any of these roles- how many of them feel right, good, comfortable, natural? Do any of them feel like they belong to someone else? Are there any of your current roles that you would like to let go of, or others that you would like to adopt? Understanding that you have some choice around the roles that you accept and reject can be liberating, and it can also require you to make some significant changes.
3- Ways that I AM serving and contributing
Make an honest and comprehensive list of all the ways that you currently serve and contribute to your different communities. [Note: Don’t censor yourself, and don’t discount or discredit anything as “too small” or insignificant.] What themes or patterns do you notice in the ways that you serve and contribute?
How do you feel when you review the different offerings that you’ve listed?
Are there ways that you are serving that don’t feel good to you, or that are draining you physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or financially?
Is there anything that you would like to offer your community that you currently are not?
4- Ways that I WANT to serve and contribute
Get Clear: What is it that you REALLY want to do? What is it that you really WANT to be known for? Now make a list of your gifts, talents, ideas, strengths, skills or other resources that you can offer to better serve your community.
Is there anything else that you need to help you move forward with what you want to offer or how you want to serve, such as additional training, a mentor, community buy-in or other types of support?
This is where it gets fun. Now is the part where you can take the information you’ve gathered and create a bridge-building plan! Knowing that it doesn’t have to be perfect before you get started, how can you begin to use what you already have to do the things that you actually want to do?
5- Unmet Needs
By going through this process, you begin to see clearly where there may be any gaps between where you are vs. where you want to be, what you are doing vs. what you want to be doing. This next step is critical for recognizing and honoring what you need vs. what you are getting.
Ask Yourself, without judgement: Is there anything that I need, want, desire, enjoy, like, or am curious about that I am NOT getting from any of my current community/ies?
Are any of the things you’ve just listed available to you in any of your current spaces? If YES, then what will you need to do to access them? If NO, then what communities do you need to connect to?
If you have unmet needs in your current group/s, chances are that you are NOT alone and that there are others in your area, space, neighborhood etc. that would love to connect with you. What would it look like for you to create and launch a new community?