One of my passions is building healthy, supportive villages for young people. I started this blog because I realized that grown folks often lacked the skills and abilities necessary to communicate and encourage young people in a way that propelled the young ones to greatness. Most often I found that grown folks couldn’t even help a young person to merely alright status let alone get them to greatness. My vision was to use my personal experiences to educate, empower, and enlighten people to go in search of the the thing or things that made their souls sing then use whatever they found to help those in their villages. In other words, I wanted folks to delve into themselves until they could answer the question “What makes my eyes light up when I think about it or speak about it?” Once the person could answer that questions I wanted to encourage them to take a risk and go do it.
I have known for years that connecting people and ideas brought me much excitement. In the south, people described me as “nice” or “sweet” or hospitable.” Later, I learned that I had a gift of building social capital which is more than just being kindhearted and social. For years, I called my communities of connectedness villages. My villages were comprised of specialists in every field that my family and I needed to have abundant life. I knew cooks, electricians, handymen, plumbers, computer techs, photographers, musicians, hairdressers, nail techs, community leaders, educators, lawn guys, mechanics, and members of the clergy. I always told my kids that I knew people who knew people. I also knew that if I respected the people and their genius, they would be more responsive whenever I called. Affirmation was magical and it built a two-way street that amounted to the thing that seems to have been lost in so many places today – relationships.
This week reminded me that people have allowed gravity to pull them horizontally as well as vertically. The polarizing, silo-dwelling I have witnessed has me envision large magnets surrounding organizations drawing people further away from the center of the community. This force has separated visionaries from the pulse that gives life to the organization itself. The magnetic force over time gradually turned the faces of the people away from the heart that gave them all existence. Instead of reaching with outstretched arms toward the heart, they reached outward toward the appendages of the body with crooked limbs restricting the blood flow capable of producing optimal levels of functioning. With this less than optimal level of functioning the builders created distance and constructed satellite villages on the outskirts of the primary village. The most driven and capable leaders who were called to contribute to the greater good become entrenched in the mini-villages that operated independent institutions erected like silos around the village complete with moots to sever the landscape.
Regardless of the name, I have seen this trend problematic for many organizations, including colleges and universities. When the silo villager became so focused on the outlying community without concern for the infrastructure that initially connected them to the heart source, there was satisfaction with the isolation. Isolation was opposite of what my friends in the business school called networking. Separation and isolation impeded the establishment of trust, transparency, or developing viable relationships. Witnessing fragmented communities this week as a result of failed networks and selfish ambition made my soul disappointed. I was disappointed that the full potential and sustainability of organizations could never be reached if this modality continued. I was disappointed that good would never be great and that some people were fine with being average.
The highlight of my week was reflection on random encounters with a couple of middle-aged women like myself who were in search of purpose and “tribe.” These women reconnected me to my purpose and my passion. They permitted me to see the benefits of sharing my gift of village building with them. One of my friends needed a “tribe” and our chance encounter a couple of weeks ago gave us each a new friend and gave her a dozen new connections. The woman and I met and became friend a couple of days ago in Oregon as we were both exploring new journeys of self. A two hour shuttle ride and a conversation over coffee left her with new ideas for work-life moves and a connection to my friend who lived in her area who could increase her knowledge of the opportunities in her community when she returned from her journey.
I implore you to use your passion to purposefully help others. There’s enough stuff to go around and enough gifts to share. Spend your time and energy building bridges and connecting people to cool ideas or to other cool people or both. Then you should celebrate the new life you created in them and enhanced village you both call home. You might be surprised that when you give for the sake of village you will be blessed beyond measure.