There’s a saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Whether you consciously chose these people or not, these people are your community. These people have a platform to speak into your life, and they will either elevate you to higher levels of achievement or keep you burdened with a spirit of mediocrity. In this article, we’ll talk about the power of community and how you can use it to go further than you ever thought possible — IF you surround yourself with the right people.
Why Is Community So Important?
Since you’re reading this blog, it would probably be safe to characterize you as a “self-starter.” You’re probably used to making things happen, and you might even work for yourself. The tendency for this type of person (especially those with an entrepreneurial mindset) is to think that they can go it alone, but that’s simply not the case. There’s an old African proverb that summarizes the results of this perfectly:
“If you want go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
The bottom line is that you will do more when you have a strong support system in place. When you surround yourself with other like-minded achievers, you will go further than you can go on your own.
Great Minds Think Alike
Getting around like-minded people can be really powerful. The easiest way to change anything in your life is to simply surround yourself with people who have done or are doing what you want to do. Ideally, you want these people to have similar interests, but optimally you want several different perspectives. This will allow you to see problems from different angles and to see potential solutions and opportunities you might otherwise miss.
For example, let’s say you’re a business owner looking to distribute a physical product. What you really want are other business owners like you, but who are from different backgrounds and industries — manufacturing, retail, wholesale, online distribution, etc. — and who can provide their own unique perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of those approaches, allowing you to make the best possible business decision.
If you’re really fortunate, you’ll not only have a diverse group of peers like this, but you’ll also be able to find mentors who can impart their wisdom from similar situations they’ve had to deal with in the past, so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. This is where the real magic happens.
Different Types of Community
Traditionally, if you wanted a community like the one I just described, you had to seek it out physically. Meetups and masterminds were often exclusive and limited based on your geographical location. For example, it’s a lot easier to find a meetup or mastermind in Austin, TX than in my small hometown in northeast Wisconsin.
Fortunately, technology makes it easier to put people you respect and look up to into these important roles where they can help inform and guide your decisions. Audiobooks, podcasts, forums, and blogs (like this one) are all “voices” that you can give a platform to and allow to speak into your life. These people/sources help shape who you are becoming and how you view the world.
Let me give you an example. A few years ago, I really got into blogs, RSS, and podcasts. I read and listened to everything I could get my hands on regarding technology and productivity. I started reading people like James Clear, Mike Vardy, Asian Efficiency (obviously), and listening to podcasts like Back to Work with Merlin Mann, Mac Power Users with David Sparks and Katie Floyd, Beyond the To-Do List with Erik Fisher, etc. I had a Bluetooth headset that I used all the time, while I was doing chores, mowing the lawn, during my commute, etc. Everywhere I went, I was listening to podcasts or reading ebooks. I referred to these people who I quite literally (in the case of podcasts) heard every day as my “internet heroes,” and my wife would shake her head and give me that sympathetic “you’re such a nerd” look that she does.
But then, something unbelievable happened…I actually started making contact with some of my “internet heroes.”
I had started a blog but only had a handful of readers, yet I still found myself conversing with Mike Vardy via email and on the phone with Thanh Pham talking about an opening at Asian Efficiency. I remember that conversation specifically, not because it was raining (although it was) or because my life changed after that conversation (although it did), but because I remember thinking to myself, “How in the world did I get to this point?”
The answer: community.
The barrier to entry to your ideal community has never been lower. Even though for a while all I did was enter the conversation, and I didn’t believe I had much to add, just being “in the room” opened doors for me that I never would have anticipated.
My story is more common than you might think. In fact, Austin Kleon tells a similar story in his book Steal Like an Artist:
“Harold Ramis, the actor and director most famous to people of my generation for his role as Egon in the movie Ghostbusters, once laid out his rule for success: ‘Find the most talented person in the room, and if it’s not you, go stand next to him. Hang out with him. Try to be helpful.’ Ramis was lucky: The most talented person in the room was his friend Bill Murray.”
Doors will open for you if you hang out in the right room. Practice being in right place at the right time. Introduce yourself to the right community, pull others up, and the opportunity will follow. And with the technology tools we have at our disposal today, this has never been easier to do.
3 Major Benefits of Community
Regardless of the type of community you’re looking to join, all good communities provide three major benefits to their members:
#1: A Good Community Challenges You
A good community will challenge you to go further than you can on your own. There is intrinsic motivation when you get around people who are committed to a particular cause, which you miss out on when you try to go it alone.
For example, if you want to get in shape, you’ll probably join a gym. Could you get in shape at home? Yes, you could — but you probably won’t (let’s be real). The reason most people join a gym is that once they’re at the gym, the physical location creates the motivation they lack at home to actually work out. Once you join a gym, the hard part is actually getting in the car and going there. Once you’re there, surrounded by like-minded people who are serious about putting in some work, it’s easy to follow through. You don’t sit in the locker room for 45 minutes and then go home. Once you walk in the door, there’s enough energy there to challenge you and motivate you to follow through with your workout.
#2: Community Supports You
A good community provides a support system that allows you to achieve more than you could on your own. It’s almost like being a part of a championship team; everyone know their roles and is focused on their responsibilities, but they know that they can go further and do more when they take time to help their teammates.
At Asian Efficiency, we have a set of core values that govern every decision we make. One of those core values is “No Ego Teamwork.” That means that we succeed or fail as a team. Individual effort is still recognized and rewarded, but ultimately if I can’t finish something and it causes us as a company not to ship something (whether it be a product or a podcast), that failure ultimately falls on the team. What ends up happening is that people will eagerly jump in and help others finish their tasks and responsibilities, because everyone buys into the vision of where we’re going. Ultimately, the only way we can get there is to work together and pull each other up.
#3: Community Holds You Accountable
A good community also provides accountability when you don’t follow through on something you agreed to do. If you tell your community that you’re going to do something and you don’t follow through with it, they’ll call you out on it.
Some of the best coaches I had when I grew up playing sports were the ones who would make you run laps when you screwed up. I even had a soccer coach in high school who didn’t like our effort in a regional playoff game, so he made us run harder than we ever had the next day in practice (even though we played our big rivals the day after). Keep in mind, this was the playoffs! If we lost the next day, we were done for the year. It worked, though, as we actually made it all the way to the state finals (before losing in double-overtime — but that’s a whole ‘nother story).
A good community can serve the same role. They can kick your butt when you need it and push you further than you would be willing to go yourself.
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Maybe you’ve been involved in a good community previously. You can actually find a community for just about anything nowadays. There are communities for web programmers, sports enthusiasts, coffee drinkers, and pet owners, just to name a few. My mom even belongs to a scrapbooking community.
But what about productivity enthusiasts? Where is that community?
We recognized that there really isn’t an online community where people who are serious about being better at life can connect to encourage, inspire, and motivate each other. There are a lot of resources available, but nothing that leverages the power of community to help you do more and be better.
We’ve been trying to build that community for the past several years. We’ve done our best to connect like-minded achievers, but in our opinion it just hasn’t been enough. The blog has a ton of great resources, the podcast allows you to get productivity tips on the go, and we even started doing meetups all over the world.
But there was still something lacking. There still wasn’t a place where a regular “meeting of the minds” could take place as you chased your goals together. That got us thinking…
Wouldn’t it be great if there was one place, an online community, where:
- like-minded achievers could gather regularly to inspire, encourage, and challenge each other on their productivity journeys?
- you could ask questions of people who live and breathe productivity and learn from their experiences, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel?
- you could access tried-and-tested content that you know works, because it’s curated by productivity experts who have applied it in their own lives and are willing to share their results?
Um, yes. Yes, it would.
We’re working on something that brings the best aspects of content and community together, and if you really want to level up your life and become a productivity ninja, I think you’re going to love it. It’s called the Asian Efficiency Dojo.
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