I have created my communities wrong. Or at least, I have done it while ignoring a huge element of what makes a great community stick together: its values. On the one hand, I have been running away as far and fast as possible from any kind of value-based community, afraid that whatever I create would turn into a “Tea Party” kind of organization that really can’t stand on anything except for the values that the members share.
And so I have pursued people specifically because of what they are passionate about. I have pursued tech people and education people and startup people because they are the ones that I can have a conversation with. They share the same interests as I do and we can speak without fear of leaving someone behind. We are the same brand of geek.
I kind of took it for granted that we would all value the same things too. I took it for granted that we would all value married life and children and balance. I took it for granted that we would value getting things done and reading a whole bunch. I thought we would all respect women and respect our environment and respect love, truth, and inquiry above all else.
But as much as these values are ones that I find in my communities, this is not what my communities are based upon. While a great many of the people that I gravitate towards are capable of being both passionate about my passions and valuing the things I value, there are many people who are simply in it for the passion.
And this has caused some of my communities to fall apart or languish. When I look at many of them, I see nothing but a series of individuals and individual interests. There isn’t a cohesion that comes from a mix of passion and values. I think the main reason for this is that passions are much more in-flux than values. While I have not always been interested in starting a company, I have always valued truth. While I have not always been a blogger, I have always valued the creative process.
One of the things that value-based communities get right is that their values bind them closer together than any set of interests ever could. In that sense, they are incredibly accepting of differences. So long as you value the same things, your background and approach doesn’t matter.
So, I guess I am advocating for building communities that do not ignore our values. I am looking for communities that see the whole me. I am a husband, a dad, a musician, a writer, a geek, an optimist, a truth-seeker, and a hand-holder. I value those things, and I want those things to be a part of the conversation just as much as term sheets, VC funding, EdTech, Collaboration, or Learning.
In fact, I want to be able to search based upon those values and not just the passions or topics that people have going around in their heads all day. I want to be able to find those other individuals who believe. If for no other reason than I feel as though I will be able to take that kind of a community with me wherever I go. No matter what I become passionate about, so long as the people I have with me value the same things, they can come too.
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