No where have I seen community initiate growth like the halls of Alcoholics Anonymous. When men and women begin their AA journey, they have an entire community that comes around them to encourage and guide them in their growth. Whether you agree or disagree with how AA works, you have to admit the fellowship they have is something we are lacking in most, if not all, areas of society.
Community Based Growth
When we enter a community: work, religion, sport, gym, or other communities we begin to grow toward the norm of that community. If we go to a gym and fall in with the runners, we start to buy their type of shoes or running clothes. If we fall in with the heavy lifters, we will start buying their type of protein powder and pre- and post-workout drinks. It’s just what we do. We hang out with people who match our norm, or we conform to the norm.
This can be great, or this can become toxic. The good means we grow and do more running or weightlifting. The toxic means we drink more or develop a dislike for other “types” of people. I want to focus on the good, but be aware the toxic is always around. No one ever joins a cult, thinking they’re joining a cult.
In a growth community like AA, the fellowship lifts the newer members and encourages them to do the 12 Steps, don’t drink, and keep coming back to meetings. The long-time members are encouraged to keep growing because they are lifting up the newer members. You can’t give away what you don’t have.
In good growth communities, those with more experience should be leading the newer members to learn the basics, work with others, and not to give up. All good companies and groups follow this pattern. Growth isn’t natural unless it is modeled.
Seek Growth Based Communities
Growth in a bubble is hard. If you are trying to grow and everyone around you is trying to pull you back to the norm, you may need a new community. This isn’t easy. Your community may only be two or three people. Those two or three people can, and should, encourage you to be and do better. Sometimes the group we are in is the group that helped us grow from the last group, but stagnation is real. If your community isn’t encouraging you to grow, find a new community.
It’s easier said than done. That’s true. Most of us are people pleasers and want the people around us to like us. You don’t have to cut ties all at once. You can find new people who are growing while still sticking with your old group. Maybe your group will see you growing and it will spark them as well so you can bring both groups together and the growth will be even greater. Your continued growth has to be important to you. You have to choose to grow or to accept the status quo.
Questions to Ask:
- Are you growing?
- Is your growth stunted by your group/community?
- Are there podcasts, books, seminars or coaches who can help you grow?
- Are you willing to put in the effort?