Taking Time to Step Back and Celebrate
Note: This post originally appeared in the Gather Community Consulting Newsletter. Get future newsletters by subscribing at the form below this post."
Last week, my co-author Charles Vogl and I finished the first draft of our book, Building Brand Communities (to be published Spring 2020). We started working on it last June, first wading into writing by outlining what we wanted to say. Thirteen months later, we are fully submerged in the work, 65,000 words deep. It’s not nearly ready for publication, but it is essential to look at all those words and see how far we’ve come.
We are so often focused on what is in front of us, but we need to look back just as often and honor where we’ve been.
I don’t do this as often as I’d like. Even though I know how vital it is to pause for a moment, to celebrate, to tell stories of our progress. I forget. All. The. Time.
I know how vital it is to pause for a moment, to celebrate, to tell stories of our progress.
Over the last year, in both my writing and my client work, I see that most of us have ideals for how we, as community builders, should be. We have ideals for how we would like to behave with and for our members. How we would like to be perceived by organizational leadership. How we should be taking better care of ourselves. Or how success should look, if only our work was more like [insert fancy company name here]'s.
People with high standards and strong values often think this way. All the pressure you put on yourself is, therefore, a gift in disguise. If you accept it as a gift, you can see this hard but important truth: If you have high standards for yourself, you will fall short more often than you will meet them. That just is.
Let that be okay. Let the space between where you are today and where you would like to be motivate you instead of tear you down.
Let yourself be kind, accepting, compassionate. Not just to others. To yourself.
Too often, I hear my clients beating themselves up, wishing things could be different. The truth is that I wouldn’t notice their struggle if I weren’t so intimately familiar with doing that myself.
Let’s spend some time honoring how far we’ve come this week, friend. In that spirit, I’ll share this quotation from Bird by Bird author Anne Lamott. I read it as I finished my last section of the book, and I sighed deeply in recognition. It is about writers, but you can replace the word "writer" with “community builder” and it almost rings even truer:
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the [community builder’s] true friend.”
Take care, friends. Let things be a little messy this week.
Your friendly neighborhood community builder ⭐
Carrie Melissa Jones
Founder, Gather Community Consulting
In my last newsletter, I created a step-by-step resource for taking time off. You can read that newsletter here.
This week, I'm offline and on the road to Milwaukee, WI. I'll be starting grad school there in the fall, studying online communities. In the next few months, you can look forward to this newsletter containing more writing about community research findings. Thank you for supporting my journey thus far!
For now, all my things are packed in boxes, and I'm enjoying living a bit more simply for the next two weeks. 📦