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Insights: Community Spirit
August 12, 2009

Community Spirit

In this week's issue, Bill suggests that the way we choose to interact with our communities and face collective challenges says a lot about the way we choose live our individual lives and face up to our own personal challenges. Find out whether you're an 'ostrich', a 'porcupine' or a 'baboon'!

"In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it."

- Marianne Williamson

I do hope you enjoyed a fabulous long week-end and for those readers of the fairer sex, I trust that you feel suitably honoured by National Women’s Day!

I have recently been helping a few members of our local community to put together a brief 'special interest' presentation that will be shared at our local Neighbourhood Watch meeting this evening - and it is this that has been the trigger for this week's topic.

Community or Fortress?

The title for the presentation, as it applies to our area is: 'The future… Community or Fortress?'

About a month or so ago, a few concerned members of our community started an email debate about the way forward for our beautiful neighbourhood, given the perception that crime levels are increasing and concerns that the wonderful openness and flowing landscapes could soon make way for ugly security gates, high walls and, heaven forbid, razor wire or electric fences.

One person in particular, having migrated to the Cape after living in a gated and heavily guarded community in Johannesburg for many years, spoke passionately about the need to prevent the development of a 'fortress mentality' by building a caring, open and vibrant community spirit.

This gentleman's email attracted an equally passionate response from a wonderful lady, very active in the community, with whom the original message had great resonance. I found my own emotional connection with the discourse and this sparked me to add my two cents worth to the cyber debate.

Pursuing a vibrant community

One thing led to another and a handful of us soon found ourselves meeting to discuss ways in which we could give some weight to the 'vibrant community' idea. We pulled a few strings with the local Neighborhood Watch to be granted 15 minutes on their agenda to talk about the pros and cons of a 'community' versus 'fortress' approach to living in the area.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with life coaching and why I chose to write about it?

The thing is that on my way home from our first exploratory meeting, I was struck by how many parallels there are between the way we choose, as individuals, to interact with our local communities and how we live our own personal lives.

Handling adversity and/or challenge

Adversity or challenge, in whatever form it arrives, tends to produce one of three generic reactions.

To add a little 'colour' to my reasoning, I'll use the analogy of three very different animals:

The Ostrich

The ostrich, as we all know only too well, adopts a head-in-the sand approach to adversity... Simply pretend it doesn't exist by keeping it out of sight - and with luck it will go away.

The Porcupine

Threaten a porcupine and the response will be one of out and out defence as the creature cocoons itself into a tight ball and thrusts out its bristling armoury of spikes as a warning to any potential wrongdoer.

The Baboon

The wily baboon knows that the best way to tackle adversity is by harnessing the power of the community. Strength in numbers, tight-knit co-operation of the versatile troop members and a propensity to take action offers a potent way to deal with any challenge or threat to safety and security.

No pain no gain

Our personal lives are challenging - for some, more so than for others - but we are all confronted with challenges, of varying degrees of adversity and complexity, throughout our lives. That's the way we grow as human beings. As the saying goes: "No gain without pain."

How we choose to deal with those challenges (or handle the 'pain') defines us as individuals and determines the nature and extent of our personal growth.

Likewise, the manner in which we collectively tackle challenges and changes that are profferred on us as communities, will define the very nature of our communities.

Are we apathetic self-delusory ostriches? Are we porcupines, interested only in self-preservation? Or are we unselfish baboons, desirous of living and prospering together in a caring, sharing, high-spirited environment?

Life coaching has a vital role

I firmly believe that life coaching has a vital role to play in building the vibrant communities of tomorrow. That role lies in empowering people to come to terms with their own amazing capabilities; to understand their life purpose and to learn how to tap into the vast network of human energy available to further that purpose.

Vibrant communities start with empowered and action-oriented individuals who genuinely care for others and want to make a positive difference; people who look to the human network for solutions to problems rather than stick their heads in the sand or retreated into a heavily fortified 'laager of one'.

Apply the animal test

I invite you to consider the biggest challenge you face today and apply the animal test.

Are you acting the ostrich, the porcupine or the baboon?

If it's one of the former, and you seriously want to change, I urge you to hire a life coach.

It's my bet that you'll forever wonder why you took so long to take that important step towards a life of freedom, confidence and growth!

Until next time...

Warm Regards,


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