“The strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack”
– Rudyard Kipling

My wife and I are downsizing, and this means we will probably relocate from our community in the next year or two. As we face a major life change, I am pondering my communities (work, church, sports, etc.) and how I decide whether to stay or go with certain relationships and groups.

Communities help us learn, share, and build our identity. The exchange is simple – we give our time, talent, and treasure and the communities share their collective resources. The end result is individuals and groups thriving through collaboration.

Packs are where we get our strength.

Communities are formed through work, school, sports, faith, neighborhood, professional organizations, and the list goes on. The positive return is that we build alliances and expertise through others. On the other hand, we can be negatively impacted if we associate with the wrong partners. What happens when the value is initially positive but begins to fade?

Stay or go?

Some of us stick with it, either through a renewed commitment or due to a belief that a change is not worth the price. Others leave relationships and communities prematurely and leave value on the table. We forfeit the chance to go deep with people and groups to build greater understanding. This is where trust forms and is shared with others.

By staying we can grow with those we know.

There are four common types of communities:
• Interest – people sharing the same interest or passion
• Action – people trying to bring about change
• Place – people brought together by geographic boundaries
• Practice – people in the same profession

I am fortunate to have strong groups who share my interests, location, and work. My time, talent, and treasure are dedicated to their success and I receive many benefits in return.

My weak link is communities of action. There are causes I believe in and my advocacy could be stronger. I tend to observe rather than lead. For example, I believe in gender equity and have served in organizations who support this important issue. My time, talent, and treasure are shared yet my support of the pack could be stronger. A deeper, personally active commitment is needed and is my goal moving forward.

Which of these four communities need a fresh look in your life?

Three keys to building and sustaining strong communities:

Self-Assessment
I have been active in chambers of commerce and constantly hear members say, “The chamber hasn’t done anything for me”. My response is what have you done for the chamber? What are you doing for the people or communities you associate with – are you engaged? Others cannot help when you don’t show up.

Online & Personal Balance
Our chaotic world causes many of us to fall short on personally engaging with others. We pass on our reunions, drop out of social groups, and evolve toward online communities. Social media is efficient and keeps us informed, but real conversations enable us to effectively build foundations of trust. We need a balance of virtual and personal relationships to meet the challenges we face.

Renew v. Join
Some of us in life are joiners. Our commitment to a new relationship or group begins strong and soon we may we realize our interest is fading. We move on and these temporary, revolving door experiences have a cost – a journey of transactional versus deep relationships. Reset your expectations and stay.

A world without strong relationships and communities is destined to be every person for themselves – a race to the bottom. Leaders understand there is a maturing process with those who give us strength, and staying the course can be the best option. Do your pack a favor – stay awhile before you go.

All My Best,
Todd