Rebuilding a community

Leadership Lessons from Star Trek TNG
Image by Krypto via Flickr

Every group goes through 5 stages of group formation:

  1. Coming together
  2. Defining the Task
  3. Unrest
  4. Cohesion
  5. Interdependence

These stages do not always occur in the same order, and they often loop back on themselves, but the first 4 have to be completed for the community to enter the final stage: Interdependence.

1. Coming together

The first stage is the most difficult.  Starting from nothing, we have to find enough people who share a common interest in the project to make it possible.  When starting something new, there are few places to go to gather these people from.

This is why the first and the second stages form a symbiotic circle.

2. Defining the Task

As we discussed earlier, nothing brings people together like a shared dream.  The group leader needs to start defining tasks for the group to accomplish.  These tasks should be simple and doable.

The group cannot wait for members to rise up to accomplish these tasks.  The leader as well as the others who have already signed up for the task need to start work.  Nothing gathers a group like success.

3. Unrest

Unrest is natural.  I have had many people sign on the Project: Shadow Manifesto, start working with us, only to either become disillusioned by the magnitude of the tasks before us or get frustrated by my focus on what’s best for the community.

There is only one way to handle unrest when it inevitably comes.  Listen to the criticism, do your best to answer it and choose the best course of action moving forward.  If schism is inevitable, allow it to happen, but try to make appropriate compromises.

The well being of the community is more important than the ego of the leadership or existing group.  Be ready to apologize or stand your ground, which ever is the most necessary.

4. Cohesion

Cohesion is a worthy goal.  When the community sees the goal, and begins accomplish its goals, it will begin to move as a unit.  Individuals will start to see tasks that are not on the agenda, and working on their own to achieve the community’s goals.

This is the most dangerous stage of group development.  As new leaders emerge within the community, they will be tempted to set out on their own.  If the group does not understand that it is only through working together that their goals can be accomplished, it will fall apart.

5. Interdependence

If the group survives this stage, then they will begin to rely on one another, and success is within the communities grasp.  All they have to do it keep their eyes on the goal and values the group has established for itself, and keep moving forward.

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The Most Important Thing

Narrow streets of cobblestone
Image by janusz l via Flickr

The tension between fame and a meaningful life is strong.  It is easy to confuse one for the other.  This struggle is more acute for an Entertainment designer since we are a nation (and culture) built on the idea the winner takes all.

Anytime a show is not number one, it is deemed a failure by the tabloid press.  Think about some common statements of defeat:

  • I wasn’t picked to lead the team.
  • They didn’t like my idea.
  • Only a few people showed up for my party.
  • Only one person wished me happy birthday.
  • I didn’t show up, and nobody even noticed.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Quality is more important than Quantity.

I know, that is such a cliche, but it is true!

If you weren’t picked to lead the team, be grateful you are free from the stress of leadership and participate to the best of your ability.

If they don’t like your ideas, ask yourself if you pitched them to the right people, or if they need some tweaking and improvement. Who cares if only a few people show up for the party, did you all have a good time?

I am not saying that we have to always look for a bright side in every situation.  Sometimes their just isn’t one.  What we need to do is:

1. Identify our Real Obstacles

It is easy to feel sorry for ourselves and have the ‘Poor me’s, but that doesn’t help anyone but the people and things between us and our goals.  If we don’t know what we are really up against, we cannot make a plan to overcome the obstacle and move ahead. Just don’t forget, sometimes we have to make a turn and go off in a new direction.  That’s what innovation is.

2. Find the Path

Once you see the obstacle, next you need to figure our the way around, through, or over it.

I have a superstition about the path I follow.  When I am on the right track, I have the motivation to carry my through.  When I am not, I don’t.

The real objective is to have a life that makes a feel alive, not merely one we survive as long as we can.

My dad is most alive when he is fixing things.  It would be ludicrous for him to have worked his way into management.  It would have sapped the zeal of life from him.  He followed his bliss, and still does in retirement.

The easiest way to find your path is to help others to find theirs.  That is why I am always volunteering to help people out.  A lot times, the solution to my problems is the same as theirs, and it easier for me to see without the emotional attachment I have to my own.

3. Stay on the Path

Remember, the most important thing is to follow your bliss!

Passion really does equal life.  The more passionate we are about our life, the more we feel alive.  The real trick is not loosing site of the things that make us feel alive.

Your turn

What tricks do you use to identify and overcome the obstacles in your life?  How did you find your bliss and what are you doing to keep following it?