Strengthening Communities for True Collaborations
Join Lucas and community expert guest, Peter Laughter, as they talk about strengthening communities as a way to experience true collaborations and explore the aspects that make communities effective and flourishing! Elements of Community host, Lucas Root, has developed a framework for the elements that are required for a “group” to become a “community”
Welcome to Elements of Community!
I am your host, Lucas Root, and in this episode, we are going to talk about how strengthening communities allow people to experience a true collaboration. Joining me in this episode is Peter Laughter, the Chief Inspiration Officer of Kinnext—a consulting and convening company that recognizes human interaction as a key to effective problem solving.
Peter’s purpose is to raise up human connections so they are noticeable and recognizable in our day-to-day life. And have those as a source of inspiration and strength, insight, and belonging.
Here’s just a taste of our talking points this week:
About Peter’s Community
Peter is in several overlapping communities. And the degree to which those overlaps are closer to him or farther away, depending on their connection to Peter’s personal purpose.
He is a Quaker, an entrepreneur, and a change-maker and all of these groups have their own communities. And all of them, the ones that he is connected with or the subsets of those communities that are most connected with are ones that share his purpose or at least purpose adjacent.
Leadership in Quakerism
In Quakerism, the leadership scenario is centered around creating a deeper understanding and connection between that inner light or having an access to the higher truth.
One of which is simplicity, simplicity not just of our surroundings and possessions, but of our thinking so that we can better hear that truth that we have access to.
It also includes Integrity, which is not just doing what you say you’re doing, but staying true to who you are and the requirements of your community.
Other subjects we covered on the show:
- Peter shared the sub umbrella communities he joined and is currently working with.
- Meaning of flat hierarchy in Quakerism.
- The analogy of mushroom hunting.
- What makes a Quaker an effective leader?
- How does Peter create and foster engagement inside the community?
- And then, Peter describes how the community engages with purpose regularly.
If you want to know more about Peter Laughter, you may reach out to him at:
[00:00:00] Welcome to Elements of Community Podcast about discovering and exploring the Elements of Community. I am Lucas Root, and each week we talk with a community leader about what makes their communities thrive and bring value to both the leaders and the members join me as we unpack the magic of the Elements of Community.
[00:00:38] Peter Laughter. Thank you so much for joining us. You and I have been friends for over a decade. And our friendship has grown in that time. Would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?
[00:00:49] Yeah, so my purpose in life is recognizing that we humans are profoundly connected to one another. My purpose is to raise up those connections.
[00:01:02] So they are noticeable and recognizable in our day-to-day life and recognized as a source of inspiration and strength, insight, and belonging. And so that is my north star that guides me and there’s lots of spheres in which I play, I have been an entrepreneur in the recruiting and staffing space for most of my professional career.
[00:01:25] That’s behind me. I worked as a coach in helping senior executives who dread going to work in the morning and want more for the last stretch of their career. And right now I have accepted my first job since 1994, as a chief inspiration officer of a consulting and convening company called Kinext. Kinext Is a company that recognizes that it is the way in which we interact with humans that really allows for effective solving problems.
[00:02:00] And it’s more about setting the environment for things like innovation and effective communication, which is most important. And so we work with companies in very, very critical areas and solving really hairy problems by using the really fantastic resources that they have available to them. The people within those companies.
[00:02:22] Wow! You know, I’ve known you for over a decade and I didn’t know that that was your purpose now. I knew that I loved you and I do, but I didn’t know that was your purpose.
[00:02:33] I’ve just recently started introducing myself with that concept. And it’s opened up a lot for me and I think being able to be. I was having dinner about a year before the pandemic. So sometime 2019 with a good friend who said his purpose and it was almost identical to mine. The language was a little different and I realized, oh, we have this incredible bond that we didn’t even know about. And so I’ve taken to looking to introduce him.
[00:03:03] That’s the way I’m feeling right now.
[00:03:07] And very germane for our conversation about community. Because I think that common purpose is the cornerstone of any community that has people gather and the degree to which that is recognized and held up and articulated in a way that really resonates is a real defining aspect of community.
[00:03:28] Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Tell me about your community. What do you guys call yourselves?
[00:03:35] Well, so, I mean, I think, if community for me is a group of people who have gathered together under a specific purpose then yeah, I’m in several overlapping communities. And I think and the degree in which those overlaps are closer to me or more farther away really depends on their connection to my personal purpose.
[00:03:56] So I am a Quaker. I am an entrepreneur. I’m a change-maker all of these groups have their own communities. And all of them, the ones that I’m connected with or the subsets of those communities that are most connected with are ones that share my purpose or at least purpose adjacent.
[00:04:17] Yeah. So you have a community that thinks of themselves as entrepreneurs who recognize that there is a deep connection with humanity between humans in humanity. And believe that it’s important to lift that up?
[00:04:34] Yes. So at this moment of time, I’ve been in very structured community. So I was one the four founding members of the New York chapter of conscious capitalism which was a community that still is running an effective to this day. I no longer participate in that community actively, although there are plenty of people within that community who are my comrades in arms, and there’s just an ocean of purpose and impact driven entrepreneurs who I am loosely affiliated with them when we run into each other.
[00:05:13] They’re just like the moment that you and I shared when I shared my purpose when we discover that common direction, we recognize that we’re fellow travelers. And then there are groups that are a little bit more closely aligned and that’s where I participate in and I think communities that have yet to be formed.
[00:05:35] Cool. And what other sort of umbrella and then sub umbrella communities are you playing with?
[00:05:42] Well, my faith is I’m a Quaker, I’m a member of the religious society of friends. And I think that that is probably the most influential community that I have participated in.
[00:05:54] And the one that I participated in for the longest period of time I have been involved in that community since I was a child and really very actively from the time I was a teenager up until now. And then there have been associations that I’ve been part of that have been at certain points in my life, really meaningful.
[00:06:16] I joined an organization shortly after I started my career as an entrepreneur, when I realized I had no idea what I was doing and needed some guidance, I joined a community called at the time it was the Young Entrepreneurs Organizations, and then the young folks got old and we got rid of the young part, we just had the Entrepreneurs Organization.
[00:06:36] And that was an incredibly valuable and wonderful community, but the purpose of which really ceased to resonate with me over time. So it pulls myself out of that community. And that was really how I entered. And at the same time, really deepening my relationship with my Quaker community and the goals of the entrepreneurs organization and my personal goals were no longer at the same.
[00:06:59] And it became really clear that I needed to pull out and then really the opportunity for me to join conscious capitalism and actively work there. And as I realized that what they were pulling for was not going to bring me to my purpose. I’ve pulled out from there and the missing out.
[00:07:21] The deep human connection?
[00:07:24] Well, this is the confusing part. But I think when we look at the structures of power within a community, they’re very, very dynamic. So as Quakers, we have a very flat hierarchy and we have no clergy.
[00:07:44] What does flat hierarchy mean?
[00:07:47] It means that the concept of leadership is A- not fixed. So it’s not like there is someone who is in charge. So as Quakers are the principle belief is that within all of us that is sacred and must be cherished and that connects us to one another. And that is often referred to as the inner light. Some sectors of Christianity would refer to that as the inner Christ, but the sect of Quakerism that I’m part of is not necessarily a Christian religion.
[00:08:21] We base our philosophies on Christianity, but we recognize that focusing on that, which is sacred within us and connects us to one another offers, insights, frequently insights that are beyond our intellectual ability. And so I think we’ve all had those moments. You’ve referred to them as downloads in some of your work.
[00:08:41] But we’ve all had those moments.
[00:08:43] I do.
[00:08:44] Where we’ve had realizations that are much greater than what our intellect can connect us to. But that is the core concept of Quakerism is that we have the ability to connect with something that is greater than ourselves and whether or not you call that God or whatever is that is really your personal choice.
[00:09:05] Yeah. And it’s not for me to tell you how to interpret that or what Dogma or scriptures that you should be focusing on or what you take from those things that is something that you gain from that understanding. And so all of the principles of Quakerism derive from that understanding.
[00:09:24] Now, is that true of all Quakerism or of yoursef?
[00:09:28] For the most part it is I think the difference between sex or money, the understanding of that reliance on that inner guidance or that inner light is consistent throughout.
[00:09:40] So how does that inner light create a leadership scenario and what does the leadership scenario look like when it happens?
[00:09:49] I think when we look at leadership, we have really been taught to do so from a very hierarchical structure, a king, a general, someone on top who is making decisions for those who cannot, and in that concept, when we recognize that all of us have access to a greater truth, I think there’s a few things that we take.
[00:10:12] So Quakerism has certain testimonies. And all of our testimonies are centered around creating a deeper understanding of that inner light and that connection between that inner light. So simplicity is one. Simplicity, not just of our surroundings and possessions, but of our thinking so that we can better hear that truth that we have access to. Integrity, not just doing what you say you’re doing, but staying true to who you are and the requirements of your community. And the very act of stepping out of that integrity is confusing. It makes it very difficult to understand that truth. From a simple standpoint, I have a 19 year old daughter and when she was a newborn, she’d wake up in the middle of night and would cry.
[00:11:01] And I was working and my wife was home and there are times where I would wake up and I’d hear my daughter crying and my wife would be asleep and I would feel, you know what? I should let my wife sleep and I should take care of that. And that is a leading that came from something that may or may not be beyond me.
[00:11:19] But once I have that leading, if I don’t do it, if I step out of integrity and decide not to do it, I then need to justify it. So I then need to say all the reasons why I am more deserving of sleep. Despite the fact that I had this inclination to interrupt my sleep, to give my wife some time to rest.
[00:11:35] I have to justify that decision. And I usually have to do it by making me higher than she is and making her lower than I am. Yeah. I’m the one who does the work, she’s at home. All of these justifications, which put distance between me and my relationship with my wife. So integrity is a real part of that.
[00:11:55] Okay. Pause. So you just outlined an example of an access to higher truth that creates a leadership scenario?
[00:12:05] Exactly. And so it i s is that insight, that would allow for a leader, not a title or position or history, but that moment where someone steps into a realization that gives them the authority.
[00:12:20] And I think this is something that’s really important with community is I think where we run into trouble as we look as authority or insight or power as a fixed item, it’s not.
[00:12:30] And it shouldn’t be.
[00:12:33] Very fluid. It’s very fluid and and we run into trouble when we don’t recognize that fluidity. As leaders and as community. And right now, I mean, where the President of Russia believed he had a particular authority and the world is disagreeing. And it’s that struggle of who has that authority is one of the many things that is problematic.
[00:13:02] Fascinating. Okay. So a circumstance that will prompt connection with a higher truth and somebody will connect with that higher truth. Then that person will assume leadership in that circumstance. Am I hearing it correctly?
[00:13:16] Yes. But I think, and the main testimonies there, this is, again, not a fixed thing of Quakerism is simplicity, peace, integrity, community and one other that’s escaping me at the moment, but it will come back to me momentarily.
[00:13:34] In a minute or tonight?
[00:13:37] Yeah, exactly.
[00:13:38] After you fall asleep, you’ll sit bolt straight up like, that was it.
[00:13:43] But I think that understanding of truth, that arises, it’s also the recognition that our view of truth is corrupted. It’s corrupted by our history, it’s corrupted by our emotion.
[00:13:58] It is corrupted by our point of view, our prejudice, so we have this access to the truth, but we need to test it in community. So, yeah, I might say my truth and you might say yours, we both have access to the same truth, right. But we see it from a different perspective. So it is through that community that we were able to see the complete truth.
[00:14:28] So the analogy that I like, cause we all have access to the truth, but we’re peering into a keyhole to look at that truth. And so we only see part of it. We need a new perspective or point of view. We really need that holistic understanding. You need a lot.
[00:14:46] You need a hundred people.
[00:14:48] Depending on the complexity of the situations, right? It may be just two, it may need 200. But to really get that full understanding, or at least a close enough understanding to be able to chart a way forward, but it is by listening to the wisdom of others for the truth that allows for that. And then I think there’s also aspects within the other different roles within leadership.
[00:15:14] So Quakers, our meetings are led by a clerk. Now the clerk, their responsibility is to make sure that there is an orderly meeting. But more importantly to listen to the truth that is emerging within the group. And to be able to speak to that truth. But it’s also very important that that clerk is not part of that decision-making process is not about throwing their understanding into the fray, but rather than listening to what others are saying and what is emerging out from those statements, that higher truth that is emerging, that higher understanding of the truth that is emergent, just like the blind man feeling an elephant.
[00:16:00] The one who feels the trunk thinks it’s a snake. The one who feels the legs thinks it’s tree. But it is that under, so the person who’s listening to what everyone is saying to be able to say, no, it’s not a tree, it’s not a snake, it’s an elephant.
[00:16:20] I follow, so have you ever been mushroom hunting?
[00:16:25] I have not. I have not, but I’m excited to hear your analogy.
[00:16:30] I have, here’s what’s cool about mushroom hunting. You can read any number of books and you go out into the field and you’re still not sure whether or not the mushroom you’re looking at is one of the poisonous ones or one of the edible ones.
[00:16:44] Books don’t get you there, standing right next to the mushroom with a picture. Doesn’t get you there. What’s amazing is if you go with a master, I’ve used this analogy in a lot of different aspects of my life. Cause I’ve come to see this as one of the pathways of true learning. If you go with a master and you go hunting, when that master connects with their mastery, they don’t even actually have to open their mouth and confirm for you when you’re in their presence and they’re connected with their mastery.
[00:17:17] It seems to me like these two things are very closely connected. My experience of that. And what we’re talking about here, where somebody will take a leadership role in a scenario in order to connect with truth.
[00:17:34] Yeah. And I think that can come in many ways. So there’s two examples of leadership that I love. I’m going to give the minor one first and the major one. So in my meeting house we had two closets and they were populated primarily with cast-off wire hangers that people had brought in from their dry cleaning which is fine for a light jacket.
[00:17:58] But for a heavy winter coat it’s miserable. And so I remember complaining like, stupid wire hangers and there’s a woman Mary in our community. So Mary’s retired. And she took on a job as a massage therapist. So she could be more social, but she didn’t really need the money. So all of the income she’d made from being a massage therapist, she would donate.
[00:18:20] And so Mary had the same thought that I did these stupid wire hangers were driving her nuts. And for me it was a complaint, but for Mary, it was an issue of leadership. So without asking anyone, or asking for funds from the meeting, she just went ahead and bought a sufficient number of wooden hangers and replaced them all one weekend and took action. So it was really just a moment of seeing what was needed and providing it, period. And it was obvious to many of us, and it was a really important lesson for me and I hold that because I think, when we look at Quakers, for example, a lot of people say, oh, you don’t have clergy.
[00:19:08] Well, the truth is, is we don’t have laity. We we’re all clergy. And I think that when we look at the modern business organization, we look at it as there’s the leaders on the top and there’s followers on the bottom. But the truth is, is the opportunities for leadership. In the example with Mary are all over at the organizations.
[00:19:32] And even if we look at that more hierarchical structure of leadership, and we look at the reality of what happens in that more hierarchal structure. Of leadership where someone is recognized as the leader. Well, there are plenty of leaders within the organization support that and calling out that.
[00:19:54] So I think my favorite example of that is, I have a dream speech on the March of Washington and I think that moment was brought together by so many acts of leadership in the background. So first and foremost, I think it’s important to recognize that Martin Luther King never intended to give that speech that day.
[00:20:20] He had a completely different speech prepared. And it was about what was the bad check that had been given to black Americans. And that was what the speech was intended to be. That was his written speech. But he had given another speech a few weeks before that he was trying out and he was working with the material of the, I Have a Dream speech.
[00:20:43] So if you listen to certain recordings of the I Have a Dream speech, you can hear the faint voice of Mahalia Jackson calling. Yeah. Tell them about your dream Martin. Tell them about your dream. And here was this moment and just think of the audacity of someone saying to Martin Luther King in the middle of a speech in front of hundreds of thousands of people that he’s telling the wrong speech in the middle of it.
[00:21:11] Not before. No, no. You should tell this speech instead in the middle of the speech, just the courage and the conviction and the audacity of that moment. Yeah. But in that moment, King recognized that the authority had shifted and Mahalia Jackson had a greater understanding of the truth than he did put aside his written note and he began to tell us about his dream. So what made that moment possible was King’s words being called out by a leader that he recognized. And in that moment where that authority had shifted from him to Mahalia Jackson, and he recognized that, and that is what capitalized and allowed for one of the greatest, I think one of the two greatest moments of oration in American history, and it wouldn’t happen without that dynamic.
[00:22:12] And there’s significant other moments that have happened to allow for that to happen. And so when we look at a moment of great leadership, like the I Have a Dream speech. It is actually a collection of hundreds of moments that made that possible of leadership from many, many different places.
[00:22:37] Yeah. So somebody will step into leadership for a situation when it’s called upon, right. When they have access to that higher truth. And they have a vision of how that truth is going to be carried out and the people around them either accept it, or they don’t.
[00:22:53] And that creates the community around that vision. Right? What is it that makes that person an effective leader? It’s not just access to truth.
[00:23:07] No, it’s not. And I don’t actually think access to truth is necessary component of leadership. And I think that’s an important thing to recognize. So it is the ability to, one, create the environment where that truth can be heard, can be spoken, heard, and recognized and acted upon, but it is not necessary that you need to have all of those components with you, but you need to be able to create the environment where those things can happen.
[00:23:42] So in the Martin Luther King example, it’s a community of maybe let’s call 20, right? The people that are standing there with him, including Mahalia Jackson and Martin Luther King, it’s a community of that 20 that are recognizing the vision that she’s created and acting upon it?
[00:24:06] Yes. I think particularly in that scenario, there has been a community that is centered toward a higher purpose, equality. Right. And so there’s this recognition of, there are many people who are moving in that direction who have insight and understanding.
[00:24:25] Of course. But in that moment she was the leader in that moment.
[00:24:30] She was a leader. And I think, we look at leadership and I think it is a condition of, I mean, thousands of years of a hierarchical leadership structure. It’s just not that simple. The world is much more complex than any hierarchy can manage. And I think it is, you know, hierarchies can be very effective as long as they make room for that understanding of complexity and fluidity of power.
[00:25:00] I don’t think there’s necessarily anything horrible about a hierarchy in general. Although I prefer organizations that have. But it is that understanding of hierarchy as a fixed position. So if I am a leader, I’m a CEO of an organization. I can be very effective as a leader, as long as I understand the fluidity of that power and the necessary ingredients to make sure that those things for an effective organization, or effective community are in place. And I’m creating those conditions.
[00:25:31] So part of what makes an effective leader is an understanding of the fluidity of authority?
[00:25:38] And the ability to create the conditions that allow for truth, to be unearthed and heard an acted.
[00:25:45] Yeah. Cool.
[00:25:51] So I have a business example for that. Which for me was really transformational. So I had a staffing industry, you know well wall street services. And we did really well in online reviews for a long time, because we would ask people who loved us to write reviews and they were more than willing to do so.
[00:26:12] And and then Yelp came around and Yelp highlighted reviews of people who reviewed more often, which wasn’t necessarily the case with what we were doing. I’m getting a little bit of feedback. Can you hear that?
[00:26:30] Okay. Just a little echo of my voice. So Yelp came around and we were getting the priority reviews were not the people who work for us, but the people who had registered with our service and we had decided not to work with. So suddenly we went from a five star review and agency to a two-star review agency.
[00:26:55] I had viewed the people who we had decided to employ as the important ones. And I have not really done what I needed to do to take care of the people that we have decided not to represent. And that was the core of the problem, but I didn’t recognize that. So my solution was focused on, get more, the people who love us to write reviews.
[00:27:26] And there’s this woman, Becky who worked for the organization, who said, no, that’s not it. We need to take better care and manage the expectations of the people we decide not to work with. And I didn’t think she was right at all. I just didn’t think that was possible. I had tried some things in that area.
[00:27:46] They were misinformed and not the right things, but I was convinced that that wouldn’t work. And she was so insistent on it. And one day she said, Peter, it’s a violation of our core values by continuing in the direction you want to. And I couldn’t argue with that even though I didn’t believe she was right.
[00:28:06] I threw up my hands and said, all right, give it a try. Do what you want. And when it fails, we’ll do it my way, which is just a horrible way of going about it. But unfortunately I was dead wrong and it became apparent. And we implemented the strategies of have better communications about our expectations and standard and better care and communication about who we would represent and who we wouldn’t.
[00:28:33] And immediately the bad review stopped. And for me, that was where I learned that lesson, that my job as a leader was not to have the answers. And matter of fact, I was never going to have the answers. My job as a leader was to make sure I had the environment where that truth can be spoken for.
[00:28:53] Where others could hear it, season it, improve upon it. And that, that truth can be recognized and then quickly. And that was for me, just a freeing form of leadership and a freeing way of being within community. Because in that previous model, that hierarchical model, I have to have all the right answers. And clearly from that example, I don’t.
[00:29:20] So yeah, when we look at imposter syndrome, that’s the construct because we are, we are pretending to have all the answers when there’s no way we could possibly have all the answers. Yeah. That’s what imposter syndrome is. Is that dynamic our very notion of leadership as this hierarchal structure, the one on top who has all the answers yeah.
[00:29:40] Is a recipe for that insecurity, that difficulty, but that being able to step into a leadership position and now, yeah, I don’t have the answers. I don’t know how we’re going to solve this problem, but have the faith in your community that the answer will emerge because you’ve set up the conditions to emerge.
[00:30:00] You have the trust within the organizations for people to hear and understand the truth, you have the respect for people to be able to listen to divergent opinions about that truth, to understand a greater understanding of truth and for that truth to be recognized by all and therefore easily implemented.
[00:30:22] It’s a very, very different concept of both community and leadership. And so then leadership can emerge and does emerge throughout the organization. And that’s something that’s really exciting.
[00:30:34] Yeah. I’m not sure. I would’ve decided, I wanted to know and love that pre Becky Peter.
[00:30:43] Yeah. I am really grateful for her.
[00:30:47] Me too coz I do know and and love you.
[00:30:50] It is mutual. It is mutual. And it was a really big change. And there was a lot of anxiety. Yeah. And not to say that I am completely free from anxiety, but man being able to walk into a room and know that I don’t have the answer and I don’t need to have the answer and have the trust to people around me that they do.
[00:31:12] And all I have to do is listen and make sure that other people are listening. That’s a very comfortable game and it’s fun to play.
[00:31:21] Yeah. I love it. Let’s do more of that.
[00:31:25] Yeah, I think so. When I look, and that’s what I’m really excited about, my work with Kinext is, really how do we bring those understandings to the corporation.
[00:31:39] You know, cause collaboration is not the norm, and in order for us to understand complexity, collaboration must be the norm, it really must be that listening for a higher truth is absolutely essential. When we look at, you know, 70% of major strategic initiatives fail, and that has been the failure rate for the past 20 years, hasn’t changed.
[00:32:05] We brought all sorts of things in the mix to change that. Yeah, it hasn’t changed. So when we look at that, the strategic initiatives that we need as corporations, as governments, as society, as humans, 30% success rate and gonna cut them.
[00:32:21] Oh, it’s horrible.
[00:32:22] It is horrible. And it’s consistent, not just the corporations. If you look at public aid projects, same ratio of failure to success across sectors. That dynamic exists and that understanding of a hierarchical, understanding of power, knowledge, and structure in my understanding is the root. And we don’t quite yet have the organization.
[00:32:51] How do you use my name like that?
[00:32:53] Right, it is the cause I apologize. But the anecdote, the root of the anecdote is community and collaboration.
[00:33:04] Yeah. That’s awesome. How do you create and foster engagement inside the community?
[00:33:12] Yeah, that’s a really interesting question. But then I think it has a surprisingly simple answer, which is also equally complex.
[00:33:21] You engage your community by asking them to do things.
[00:33:26] Like a project?
[00:33:31] Exactly. Now there’s all sorts of things that are necessary. Is it something that they want to do? Is it something that they’re capable of doing? You know, is it something that they have the tools to do or is it something that they have the authority to do?
[00:33:44] There’s all sorts of things, but the truth of the matter is, is if I am asking people who are to take a bolt and put it into slot A over and over and over again, it’s going to be very hard for me to engage people, right? If how it is that I’m limiting their scope down, I need to widen their scope.
[00:34:07] And to being able to do more, I need to be able to give them the tools that they need to play in that arena. There’s all sorts of things I need to do to allow that, but you engage your community by asking more of it. And that seems really simple, but are you asking them to do the right things?
[00:34:27] Is it consistent with the purpose of the organization? Is it consistent with their purpose as an individual? That’s where things get complex.
[00:34:35] It’s not just a project for the sake of a project. It’s a project in pursuit of the purpose.
[00:34:40] Right. Exactly. If I say, Hey, Lucas, I want to engage you more. So we’re going to dig holes in your backyard and then we’re going to fill them up again. You’re not going to be engaging to you unless you need exercise and can’t think of a better word.
[00:34:56] And I’m pretty confident having gone on runs with you that you’ve got many ways, so it really does need to have a higher purpose. But if you’ve got a broken arm, even if there’s a higher purpose in digging a hole and filling it up again, you’re still not going to be able to do it, nor if you don’t have a shovel, man.
[00:35:16] But I could participate.
[00:35:19] Yes. You very good. Yeah. You know, I have a shovel, but you have a bucket. Awesome. There’s some things that we could do there.
[00:35:28] Yeah. I love it. How does purpose show up in the way that you engage with communities and how do they engage with purpose regularly?
[00:35:43] Yeah, so every community has a purpose, whether it’s stated or unstated where it’s clear or unclear. So I think that that purpose is necessary and that purpose of direction for an organization. But then there’s purpose of action.
[00:35:57] Well, hold on. Is it possible to actually be a community if the purpose is not stated and not clear, you can be a group, you can be an organization. Can you be an actual community?
[00:36:09] Yeah. Well so for example, I have my community of Quakers, very, very strong community. Yeah. But then. I have a community of neighbors. And there’s my neighborhood. And the community of my block now, I’m not quite sure what the common purpose of the community in my block is. But I know it exists.
[00:36:35] Does it? Does your community have your block do projects together?
[00:36:40] I don’t think necessarily projects is, well, it’s necessary for engagement. I don’t think it’s necessary for community. So our project might be that we just live on the same block yeah.
[00:36:51] For our common activity as we live on the same bond. And I think there are certain values that we share as a community. And I think that purpose might be very, very similar that we want to be safe and happy and, you know, what might be very, very simple, but I think there are things within that community that are necessary.
[00:37:14] So for example, I live in Brooklyn and we got a lot of rats right now. And I’ve got a neighbor who who has in front of his house, a massive warn of rats in the tree pit in front of the house. It’s disgusting. And two months ago said, hey, do you need help taking care of this referral to the exterminator.
[00:37:37] To let them know, like, this is your responsibility and you are out of line by not respecting the rights of our community by not taking care of your property in a way that’s impacting our quality of life. So his inaction is a violation of, in my opinion of his standards of community.
[00:38:01] Yeah. And he can choose to take care of that or not. He did so in an effectual way, he just put dirt over the hole. Rats really thought that was a very nice inconvenience and they went around it and just dug other holes. So it didn’t solve the problem. And which allowed me to go back to him and say, no, no, that’s not a sufficient response.
[00:38:22] You need something more. And so it is the boundaries of that community that gives me the right to have that conversation with him.
[00:38:29] The authority.
[00:38:32] Well, I dont know if I have authority, right? Clearly he didn’t take care of it when I first did it two months ago. And we’ll see whether he does that. Then, and if he doesn’t, which I suspect that he won’t. Then, I have to get other aspects of my community involved, whether that be a call to the city, to make a report, it might be a request to another neighbor to have a conversation with him. There might be a number of actions that I can take within that construct.
[00:38:59] But I think my neighborhood is definitely a communit, it definitely has a purpose. I’m not quite sure what it is. I don’t think my neighbors do. But I think we all have a general understanding of what the purpose of our community is, but we have a vague understanding, but there’s something that connects us to each other.
[00:39:16] Simply, it may be that we live near each other and there are certain things that we want for ourselves and our families and our experience in that neighborhood that we all think that we share, but that’s a very, very loose community and not a very strong one. But it’s important to have respect.
[00:39:35] Yeah. I wonder how different the world would be if people thought about their neighborhood like that.
[00:39:44] Haven’t we all seen Mr. Rogers and Sesame street.
[00:39:48] Yeah. But that’s just a TV show.
[00:39:51] Yeah. It’s true. But I mean, I say it because the first thing I thought of, because it was really the things that gave a real foundational understanding of what a neighborhood should be for me. When you say neighborhood, I think of Mr. Rogers and Sesame street, when you think of neighborhood or when I think of neighborhood that’s the first thing I think of. And I think that’s another important aspect of communities. We need these symbols that we hold that kind of allow us to give the boundaries, so to speak of our community.
[00:40:28] Okay. So maybe there needs to be a vision
[00:40:34] Or at the very least a map.
[00:40:42] And how does that touch back with purpose?
[00:40:45] So I think, yeah, there’s a lot of aspects of community that are important. There are the commonalities. So I live on Pacific street in Boerum hill, in Brooklyn, in New York city, in New York state, in the United States, in the Northern hemisphere. And in, on the planet, there’s a delineation of community as we broaden it, my understanding gets more and more of what that purpose is and more and more vague and diverse and probably larger.
[00:41:21] I’m not quite sure, but as we narrow down, that purpose might come a little bit more significant and visible, but it’s still unclear, right? I think I have an understanding that the purpose of my neighborhood is to be safe, is to be respectful, to have a place to live that is fun and engaging and clean and has the resources we need and all of those things outside of that, I don’t quite know.
[00:41:50] Yeah. But I know that there are certain shared understandings within that, that are important. And I think for me, the evolution of Brooklyn is one that’s really interesting. So when I first came here in high school, one of the things I noticed is that neighbors really valued that interaction.
[00:42:11] And as Brooklyn became different over time. There were people who came in who didn’t value that as much. So I remember having a conversation with a neighbor on the street and a woman with a stroller demanded very rudely that we get out of the way. And as people who had been in the neighborhood and for a long time and recognize that was part of our community, that we would stop and talk to each other in the street.
[00:42:39] And then to have someone who didn’t recognize that norm get annoyed by it. It was an indication of a change that someone had this different view. It’s not about neighbors talking to each other or being kind to each other. So, sorry. Would you mind moving so I could get by.
[00:42:57] That was not part of the equation because that person did not value ou the fact that this understanding that part of our neighborhood is that neighbors stop and talk to each other. That the purpose of sidewalks is not just for getting from point A to point B, but it’s for running into your neighbors and as a place to facilitate conversations and connections,
[00:43:19] Sure as a local park as it were.
[00:43:21] Yeah. A very distinct. You know, the extent to which people sit on stoops and don’t. I have a neighbor Mary who’s been here for, I don’t know how many decades before me. And she’s regularly on her stoop. And as a space that I enjoy sitting as well. Mary, does a lot more than I do.
[00:43:41] And I think we are one of the few regular stoop centers in our neighborhood now where that was not always the case.
[00:43:50] You have a community of stoop centers.
[00:43:53] Now it’s a community of two, unfortunately, but yeah.
[00:43:59] How do you grow that community?
[00:44:05] Yeah. And I think that, that’s an interesting concept and I think that that growth can come from a number of ways, but I think it was really two things.
[00:44:18] It is one communicating that shared purpose and making that clear and lifting that up so then people can recognize it. Oh, that’s me.
[00:44:27] So you need to carry a sign with you and put it up behind you when you and Mary are sitting on the stoop together. This is the stoop sitters.
[00:44:33] Well, yeah, I mean, that’s the thing, you know, is the very fact that we were sitting on a stoop, engaging with people is a sign right?
[00:44:42] The very fact is our action. We’re sitting there. We’re not in our backyards. We are on our front stoop. We are engaging with people as they pass. That’s the sign. We were sitting on a stoop. We are stoop sitters. That’s all the sign we need. But we are Republican whereas sitting in my backyard wher no one can see me or engage with me is a very different side.
[00:45:06] You may even have a stoop in your backyard.
[00:45:09] I do have some steps in my backyard leading to a deck. Yes. No one walks by it though.
[00:45:17] And a sense of a stoop sitting. It’s that common purpose of engaging publicly with my community, whether it be a good morning or a longer conversation with someone as they pass by. And I think, yeah, my purpose is by sitting out on the stoop is evident that I want to engage and my action by engaging with people, I am inviting people to engage.
[00:45:50] So that very act now is creation of community. I’m being visible in my purpose. I am making it apparent and I am engaging. So I think those are the two baseline understandings, I think from there, there’s all sorts of other things. And understanding way of communication. Yeah, that flow of information.
[00:46:14] But I think those, if you’re looking for what are the two main ingredients? Yeah, I think it is it’s purpose and engagement are the top two.
[00:46:23] Okay. Now how would you create a project for the community of stoop sitters? To foster a deepen engagement.
[00:46:34] Yeah. So well, let’s play that one out. So I think we, I would ask something bigger of my community and that could be anything like, Hey, let’s have a block party.
[00:46:47] That would be bigger.
[00:46:47] Or, you know, what we’re all tired of these rats let’s get together and deal with it. Yeah. So it is that sense of engagement.
[00:46:56] And that engagement, you know, even though my community has a loosen undefined purpose, it is that purpose of action that is related to that larger purpose that people can bring together and that purpose of action will cause that engagement there.
[00:47:18] And it is asking someone to do I project or to join you in a project. So, yeah, that awesome probably I think one of the best Ted talks of all time, the three or four minute Ted talk on how to start a movement. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it. It’s probably one of the greatest it is a three minute video of some outdoor concert where one guy is doing this crazy dance over and over again.
[00:47:44] And he’s all by himself doing this crazy dance over and over again at this conference. And obviously people are watching him and someone’s videotaping it. But at one point, this guy comes up and follow simple and starts doing the crazy dance, but he didn’t do it correctly. So the leader shows him, no, no, no, that’s not how you do it.
[00:48:03] This is how you do the crazy dances. And together in unison, they’re doing the Creo. These two of them are doing this crazy dance. And then a few more people joined. And then a few more people joined and then more and more until people are rushing to do this dance together.
[00:48:20] He has his purpose. He’s wearing it, honestly, if he’s got his sign up, he’s sitting on his stoop and engaging with people.
[00:48:28] Yeah. He’s doing his crazy dance. Someone walks by, they have a conversation, in that the stoop sitter is teaching that first follower, how to engage in this conversation, maybe the stoop sitter we’ll sit and join them and maybe other people will be invited to, or maybe, that follower will say I got a stoop.
[00:48:49] This was kind of fun. I’m going to do it again on my stoop this time. And I’m going to invite. And so there are propagating that activity there. And so there’s many ways. So I think, there is that invitation to join and then there’s that joining. And then there is that really making it of their own which was part of that.
[00:49:13] That enroll and are enrolled.
[00:49:16] Yeah. And I’ll send you the link to that Ted Talk, it’s really quite brilliant. And the final line or the punchline is the difference between alone not in a leader is the first follower. Which is something that I love.
[00:49:36] But yeah. And I don’t view it as simplistic as that. It is that first connection, that recognition of that insight of that brilliance of the awesome dance of the importance of a statement of another is that necessarily start to be able to launched that.
[00:49:59] Yeah. Amazing. Thank you, Peter. What question did I not ask that I should have?
[00:50:07] You’ve asked a lot of really awesome questions. I think
[00:50:12] We have had a great conversation.
[00:50:13] We have, I don’t know if there’s any questions that you haven’t asked, but I think other things that we could continue to talk about are how do communities interact in a way that allows them to grow quickly?
[00:50:26] How do they use things like conflict? What’s the difference between being positional or dogmatic and listening and flexible and how do you deploy those things and how do you define lines around them? And what’s right? It is very important for me as an inclusive leader to listen to what others have to say, put the boundaries on that.
[00:50:52] Yeah. I have very little patients or ability to listen to someone who is blatantly racist but my denial of their voice also at the same time makes it impossible for us to be part of a larger community. So how do you bridge those gaps? These are all important aspects of community and developing community.
[00:51:14] And particularly because and I suspect knowing what I know about you is that it is that act of community and strengthening that is what is necessary to solve what it is that needs to be solving in order to make sure our planet exists and to make sure that our species exist, things have become too complex and they need to be solved through community and strengthening that community.
[00:51:40] And the very fact that right now, in this very moment, we have all of the technologies we need to heal the planet. It all exists right now, and it doesn’t need to be developed. It just needs to be deployed. We’re not going to do it without community.
[00:51:58] We’re not going to do it without community.
[00:52:00] That’s what happen.
[00:52:02] Yup. Hierarchical has proven 70% failure rate.
[00:52:06] Yup, we know it doesn’t work, it’s got to change.
[00:52:12] Amazing. I love it. You know, a thing or two about some of those conflict in particular, you have a Ted talk about it.
[00:52:18] I do.
[00:52:20] How would you like people to engage with you?
[00:52:24] Well, I think LinkedIn is the main social platform that I use. I lurk on Twitter, but I don’t do much there, but on linkedIn I don’t think there’s a lot of Peter Laughter’s out there, so I’m easy to find on LinkedIn.
[00:52:37] I don’t think there are.
[00:52:41] Kinext, K I N E X T.com is the website of the company that I work with and the team that I have a great pleasure working with. And doing this work of really strengthening communities in ways that have corporations and be more effective and for people to be able to experience true collaboration within their work so that they can A be more effective at getting things done.
[00:53:02] But more importantly, how can they have that experience of community and collaboration in the area of work, where we spend the majority of our waking time. So that we can bring that to other areas of our lives. So that can be disseminated to our neighborhoods, to our faith communities, to our political structures.
[00:53:23] And yeah. So that’s Kinext.com and so those are two areas where you can find out about meA
[00:53:30] Amazing. Thank you so much. Definitely look him up.
[00:53:33] Always a freaking blast talking with you, Lucas. You have your foot grounded in a corporate world and another foot grounded in a very ethereal spiritual world. And it’s a rare combination of people who can use those.
[00:53:49] Oh, wow. Thank you. Thank you. I feel seen.
[00:53:52] Thank you for joining us this week on Elements of Community. Make sure to visit our website ElementsOfCommunity.us, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or via RSS. So you’ll never miss a show. If you found value in this show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes or, if you’d simply tell a friend about the show that would help us out too.
[00:54:22] If you liked the show, you might want to check out our EOC inner circle, where we deep dive with each guest on the inner workings of their community. We cover things like community model, profitability and engagement strategies. You can join the inner circle at ElementsOfCommunity.us/inner circle.
[00:54:42] Be sure to tune in next week for our next episode.
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Lucas is the host of Elements of Community. He is a community growth strategist and works with mega companies like The Pokemon Company to help build and foster community. This podcast is Lucas' way of giving back what he has learned about the magic of building and growing community.
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Like what you hear on the podcast? We have more secret recordings from every guest. We keep the microphone rolling after the podcast is done and get our guest to spill the beans on the best tactics for growing their communities profitably. You don't wanna miss this.