Creating a Network of Relationships
All Crises are Local. All Networks need to be Local. Here's how to do it.
Excellent as always.
Ok, let’s take this from the realm of reading and accenting to doing. Let’s not look from afar with longing to MAA’s karass. After all 12k people is not an insignificant number. This conception by Vonnegut is analogous to an idea that I’ve been writing about for some time. I call it a network of relationships. It is a place of engagement. A place for problem solving, for information sharing, and the restoration of the institutional structure of society. I am suggesting that we each create our own network of relationships. If you gather five people of like mindedness to be your karass then we will see a network of networks begin to grow.
As I read your post, MAA the image that came to mind was a map of these networks. I travel a lot. Just back from seeing some family in Virginia. How great it would be to know that every town, every county, there is someone to stop, have a cup of coffee, and share support for the change process that we are in. A year ago I started a project called the Global Impact Network. I did it because I had friends worldwide who as leaders in their communities were isolated, feeling alone. I suspect many of you feel the same way. If you need help establishing yourself own karass, your own network of relationships for support. Reach out to me and we’ll talk. This is our future. No time to waste.
Our world is splintering. We feel it in terms of disorientation, alienation, and isolation. We are torn apart by political and social conflict. We find our families ripped asunder by disinformation, misinformation, and lies intended to mislead us.
And yet, somewhere down deep inside each of us, we know that there is some truth, some reality, some presence of mind that transcends the conflict. Yet, we feel alone in those feelings.
Social media platforms provide a mixed bag for helping us find ourselves so that we can root ourselves in living a meaningful, truthful, and authentic life. Too often they lead us into greater conflict.
Then, upon the landscape, appears a platform where information and perspective are presented that seems to be helpful. This is what Substack has meant to many of us. My site, The Future of Leadership, has been helpful to me find a new audience after almost two decades of blogging, book writing, and newspaper editorial work. I welcome this new opportunity to explore the world that we all care about but do not know what to do with it.
In 2018, I published Circle of Impact: Taking Personal Initiative to Ignite Change. Five principles underscore the message of the book.
1. All leadership begins with personal initiative to create impact.
2. We are ALL in transition. Every one of us. All the time.
3. Impact is the change that makes a difference that matters.
4. Impact expands through Networks of Relationships.
5. Start Small. Act Locally. Share Globally. Take the Long View.
In addition to these watchwords for living a life of impact, I describe the Two Global Forces.
There is the global force of centralized institutions of governance and finance and the global force of decentralized networks of relationships.
The Time Before Us
With all this as background, let me share with you what I believe is before all of us right now.
I don’t believe the centralized structures of the world are sustainable. In fact, if you have watched what has transpired over the past two and a half years, you can see the inability of national governments, global institutions, and global businesses to function, much less fulfill the promise that we all at one point in the past had for them. Today, we face the following:
A coronavirus pandemic that follows no rules of logic.
A supply chain collapse that is the tip of the iceberg of the collapse of global businesses.
A proxy war in Ukraine between Russia and the West that threatens global energy supplies.
The prospect of a winter without heating fuel in Germany because of their dependence on Russia for it.
The fall of the Sri Lankan government because of their commitment to arresting climate change has brought the collapse of their agriculture industry bringing starvation to their nation.
As a result, the trust that we should have in our leaders is eroding. What is left for us to do?
All Networks Are Local
It is virtually impossible in the current cultural climate for any one individual of modest means to affect change at the global level. The message of the media through social media is that this is where our focus should be.
I believe we should give our minds, our money, our time, and our commitment to our local communities. If everything that we have experienced becomes worse, and it could well happen this way, then all we will have left is our families and our neighbors.
I have spent most of the past forty years focused on leadership development in organizations and communities. Everything we are seeing today, I saw coming at least two decades ago.
The answer is to focus on carrying for our local communities.
In the summer of 2021, as I worked with leaders in Africa, I realized that they were doing what I was advocating, but they were isolated. They lacked support. While I supported them and interacted with them on a regular basis, I could not be all things to each one of them. As a result, I created the Global Impact Network. Its sole purpose is to help people establish their own network of relationships to serve their local community.
Creating Your Network of Relationships
I don’t want to make this complicated. If it is, nothing will happen. There are no secret methodologies. There is no payment that I am asking to make something magical happen.
The only thing that matters is your own willingness to take initiative to create your network. And then your own initiative in collaboration with others to care for your community.
If you need permission to act, I grant you that permission. If you are unsure that you can do it, I am telling you that even though I don’t know you, I believe that you can make a difference that matters. I have seen this time and time again. At the end I will provide a set of questions that can keep you on track. But now …
BELIEVE THAT YOUR FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS
Step One: Know Yourself
Throughout this process, I want you to take notes. The act of writing secures the thought in your mind.
What matters to you?
What are the values that define your life?
What experiences have you had where you felt that you made a difference that matters?
By identifying them, you now have a basis for knowing where you stand.
During the pandemic, I wrote a short book called, May Your No Be A Yes: A Guide To Making Better Decisions. It focuses on how to elevate your values so that you don’t get trapped doing things that simply comply with people who do have your best interest in mind.
My suggestion is that you decide what it is that you want to see happen. What change that you have the opportunity to create that means something to you. Write a short statement about what it is that is important to you.
Understand that you are not writing this for anyone but yourself. The clearer you are about what is important to you, the more likely it is that you will find people who share a similar belief.
Step Two: Identify Your Network
Take your phone out and look at your list of contacts.
How many of these people from your community are you in regular communication?
How many of these people do you share common values and perspectives?
How many of these people are you both members of the same group, club, school, congregation, or fanbase?
This is the initial list that you need.
Try to create a list of between 30 and 50 people. We are looking to create an initial network of 3 to 5 people. This may take some time. As the fifth principle of the Circle of Impact states, “Start Small. Act Local. Share Global. Take the Long View.” We are trying to create a large group overnight. We are just trying to find a few people with whom you can share a common purpose for your local community.
Reach out to them asking for a conversation. This conversation can either be in person or by phone. When you make your connection and have your conversation you want to say something like this.
“This is what I am interested in (my purpose). What do you think?”
At this point, we are assuming a positive response to you. You are not asking them to join you. This is important. The reason is that people get asked to participate in groups all the time. Here’s the most important question.
“Knowing what I am interested in, who do you know that you think I should know, and would you introduce us?”
This is why you need to have clarity about what you are interested in. Even if it is just a network group for talk and support, be clear about it. They need to see that you have established some boundaries around your purpose.
Two examples from my experience.
Starting a Business
1. In the mid-1990s, our family moved to a new community. From our old community, three different people gave me the name of one person to contact in our new community. I called them up. Said “So-in-So” says we should get together. After I described what I was interested in doing, I made the pitch phrase above. Each person gave me between 10 and 15 names and phone numbers. I called all of them. Did the same thing with them. After about fifty calls, I got my first client and a connection to a community leader whose support remains important to me today. I could call him up right now and say, “This is what is going on. Who do you know that I should know and would you connect us.”
Connections in a Local Community Overseas
2. My first trip to Africa in 2019 was preceded by my introduction to a young man in Nairobi that came through a friend of mine in Casper, Wyoming who knew a woman in Fargo, North Dakota who had a close friend in Nairobi who introduced me to her son, Tony. On my second trip to Nairobi, Tony introduced me to Paul, who arranged for me to speak seven times in a two-week period. After my return, Tony invited me to speak on a webinar that he was hosting. A participant in the webinar connected me the following with a woman named Mumbi, who became my Africa publisher. This fall Circle of Impact: (You Have Everything That You Need) will be published.
The point is that these relationships are not rooted in one thing that you might do together. They are rooted in the expansion of what is possible when you figure out how to work together.
If you can do this, then a sense of isolation or alienation can be removed.
Step Three: Creating a Sustainable Network
Keep doing this for everything you find important. You may have multiple networks each with its own focus.
Here, then, is how to manage the network. I call this the Five Questions That Everyone Must Ask. You can ask these questions in many ways.
You can ask them by looking back over a situation.
You can ask as you prepare for a meeting.
You can ask them in planning for the future.
You can ask them as you prepare yourself for an important encounter.
The form you see can be adapted to your needs by you. You make these your questions and I guarantee you that you will find clarity and perspective that you have lacked. Also, use these questions with the people with whom you meet. And, there is no way to truly understand the value of these questions except by using them. Begin with once a week.
1. What has changed? How am I/We in transition?
2. What is my Impact?
3. Who have I impacted?
4. What opportunities do I have because of the impact that I have had?
5. What problems have I created? What obstacles do I face?
Step Four: Write It Down
The most important thing you can do to make this process work is to take notes. Buy a journal and carry it with you. Write something everyday. One word, or a thousand words. It doesn’t matter. Don’t write for anyone but yourself.
At some point, you may realize that you have something to share. Write a book. Start a blog. Create a podcast. Do something to share the beauty of the life that is now yours.
If you follow through with this process, you will the following changes that make a difference that matters.
1. You will find that you have far greater potential and far greater resources than you ever thought.
2. You will develop relationships that are not subject to political sentiment.
3. You will become a person who has something to offer every person that you meet.
4. You can find happiness in the midst of trauma and conflict.
5. You will never, ever, again, need to ask the question of whether your life matters.
Lastly, if you need help ask. Post a question here. Share a story. If there are enough questions, it may give me the motivation to start a podcast. We are in this together.