Second Snippet

Hi everyone, I have a few exciting updates.

A little while back I posted the first few pages of the introductory first chapter. Now I want to share with you the main section headings:

  • The Art Of Community
  • The Essence Of Community
    • Building Belonging Into The Social Economy
    • The Basis of Communication
  • Unwrapping Opportunity
  • Becoming The Community
    • Cracking Open The Personality
    • Trust Is Everything
    • Avoid Ego, Or Others Will Avoid You
    • Theory vs. Action. Action Wins
    • Becoming Yourself
  • Moving Forward

Weighing in at around 15 pages, the chapter sets the story for the rest of the book.

While we are on the subject of the broad introduction to the book, I am going to take another snippet from the book, this time from the Trust Is Everything section in this first chapter:

Trust Is Everything

At the heart of this enablement is trust. As we have already discussed, community is fundamentally a social economy, and its participants build up social capital via their contributions. With social capital being, by its very nature, a product of social interaction, trust is critical. If people in a community don’t trust you, you will be met with caution and you will struggle to build your social capital.

This is true for participants, but for community leaders and managers, trust is a whole new ball game. Trust in leadership is essential. Earlier, we explored the example of Barack Obama stepping forward to enthuse a nation in turbulent times. Part of the reason why those times were turbulent was a significant lack of trust in President George W. Bush. When trust vanishes, words and promises lose their meaning. When trust is present, words and promises flourish in a world where they have purpose and potential.

Trust, though, is not something you can learn. You are either trusted or you are not. As my father in law said to my family one evening over dinner, “live your life honestly – if you don’t, you always have to remember to not be yourself”. His words teach an important lesson – when trust is implicit in every step you take, you can always be confident in the transparency and openness of your actions. This is the most important aspect of community management, and of life itself.

Part of the reason why trust is so critical is that, as a community manager, you want to be emotionally close to everyone in your community. You want everyone in that community to think of you as an accessible, approachable, sensitive person, and trust is required for any of these roles. People will approach you for advice, for guidance, to discuss personal issues, to handle conflict, and more. Many of these situations will be complex, and will require a significant level of sensitivity and confidence.

Part of achieving that sense of trust and confidence is having a firm foundation of understanding and patience. You should be aware right now that some people are going to frustrate you. Some people will be too quick to act and opine on a subject, and some will be too timid and reluctant to put their head above the pulpit. Some people will obsess about the wrong things and regularly produce what appears to be a tempest in a teacup.

But then again, some people will inspire you with their sense of responsibility, their ability to react to situations with grace and elegance, and their willingness to care for the community. As a community manager you will experience all sides of human nature, from strength and innovation to weakness and uncertainty. Whatever you hear from your community, you should endeavor to be the best listener that you can.

When you can demonstrate trust and the capability to listen, your community will develop respect for you. They will be there to listen to you, work with you, to stand side-by-side with you in your battles and become a large extended family that you can rely on.

This respect has an important function in re-enforcing belief in your community. When community members have responsive positive interactions with community leaders, it makes the community feel more inclusive, which generates belief and importantly, belonging.

Respect is a wonderful gift, and you should cherish it and protect it at all costs. Getting that respect back after you lose it is a near-impossible task.

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