I’ll keep this quick and easy: professional example, societal example, personal example. Let’s dance.
The Professional Example
Some high-up lady at SoulCycle has moved over to WeWork. Gotta love it when people hop between the hot startups, right? Interesting how she frames up SoulCycle here:
One of the key values at SoulCycle is non-competitiveness. Cyclers don’t compete with each other. Rather they share the burden of the exercise together, pressing down on their peddles and bopping on their handlebars in unison, together powering their collective self-esteem and dazzling abs. But Rice says, what really kept people coming back again and again was a sense of belonging that bordered on commitment, if not obligation. It was this sense, she explains, that “If I don’t show up, somebody will be disappointed. If I don’t show up, the energy of this community will be disrupted. What I am contributing to this community is actually propelling it.”
OK. Hold onto that.
The Societal Example
In the U.S. these days, we’ve got a lot of issues with leaving rural communities behind. You can argue that’s how Trump won the Presidency, right? Indeed. But not all rural communities are a disaster. Orange City, Iowa — NW corner of the state, but 2 hours from any major airport — is actually thriving. Here is one reason why:
Julie and Greg lived in the Philadelphia suburbs for ten years. They tried to build a sense of community there, but it didn’t work. They had friends, but after a decade their town still didn’t feel like home. Around this time, when Julie was in her late thirties, her mother received a diagnosis of leukemia, and Julie went to Orange City to be with her as she was dying. She was struck by how many people came to see her mother. She noticed that some of these friends had money and others were poor, whereas in Philadelphia her friends were all very much like her and Greg. Julie thought, Here is a woman who has accomplished basically nothing, professionally, and yet she has had an impact on so many people. And she thought, These are the kinds of deep friendships that we don’t have in Philadelphia.
Hold that one too.
The Personal Example
I got divorced early in ’17. Usually when you get divorced, stuff been f’ed for a while — and that was true here too. I’d say that for parts of 2016, especially later 2016, my “sense of community” was a bar near my house. No bueno. So I joined this gym. (Picture above.) I go almost every day at 10:30am and stay until about 12:30. Some of the people down there have become some of my best friends. I see at least 1–3 people from the gym probably every weekend. I’d say it’s the single-most impactful thing I did in 2017, and that’s almost without question.
Look, none of this is rocket science. But if you really want to find out what you’re capable of and where you might “fit” or belong, you need to cultivate community. That goes for brands (who often lip-service the concept), people, families, gyms, whatever.
Build community. Seek it out.
This stuff matters. The KPIs? Not so much.