Sunday, April 26, 2009


You need your community. Drop that veneer of independence and admit it. Your community keeps you safe, protects your streets and provides stability.

If you have the means, opportunity and time to read this, you've already won the lottery. You aren't spending your time working in a Bangladeshi garment factory, for example. Your community's past and present have helped make you what you are.

Where there are rights, there are also responsibilities. Your relationship with your community is symbiotic. 

Your community needs you. You are the only person with your eyes, ears and backstory. You see opportunities no one else sees, and you see solutions to obstacles that challenge others.

It's easy to be a sheep: don't make waves, everything will continue just as it was. But you can do better than that. Step up and get involved. Pay attention to the issues that inspire or perturb you. Talk to people about them. You get bonus points for talking to people who disagree with you, because those are the conversations likely to spark ideas.

When those sparks fly, be nice to them. Treat your ideas with respect. Write them down if you have to, because they vanish if not properly cared for. Grow them and set them free. Ideas are like magic pennies. They wither if hoarded, but multiply when shared. You never know how they'll come back to you.

Connect with people. Make sure other people in your community know what you're capable of. You're not the only instrument in the orchestra, but you can accomplish some pretty amazing things if you play together. Other people need your expertise, but if you hide your candle under a bush, they won't be able to find you. Neither of you will know an opportunity was missed, but the world misses out.

Do your best. If your calling is to play the french horn, play it well, but understand the role of the timpani, the strings, the bassoon and the conductor.

Pay attention. There are opportunities knocking. They're dressed up to look like work, but through them you help your community thrive. It will do the same for you.

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