Why You Need to Build a Meaningful Community…
I (Phil Svitek) hear lots of people emphasizing that you need a good group of friends or a strong community. And they’re right, but they’re underselling why it is so important and also how to go about creating that foundation. That’s my focus here because the creative industry is extremely collaborative. Even the professions that on the surface seem like solitary disciplines, such as writing or painting, require collaboration in the end. We all need feedback for one thing. Secondly, friends or a community help us to grow. They inform us of things we’re unaware of. That’s the true value in having a community. Together, we can grow faster than you could individually as well as other benefits. Citing people such as Tony Robbins, Chris McCandless, Tom Brady, Simon Sinek, I explore the full depth of a community and how you too can cultivate one. And be sure to comment below with any questions you may have and share the episode with a friend. Thank you!
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Hello fellow creative! It’s great to have you for this lesson. As you may already be aware of, I am of the belief that it takes way more than skills and talent to succeed. You need to master mental fortitude in order to achieve your ambitions. If you don’t, the proverbial wheels will come off the wagon. Part of mastering mental fortitude means having a good support system in place, which is what I want to discuss today.
I hear lots of people emphasizing that you need a good group of friends or a strong community. And they’re right, but they’re underselling why it is so important and also how to go about creating that foundation. That’s my focus here.
Back in February of 2019, Tom Brady won another Superbowl with the Patriots and the chants calling him the “greatest of all time” reverberated across America yet again. And while I think Tom Brady is a phenomenal player, something crucial is overlooked. Tom Brady didn’t win the Superbowl. His defense did. Well, if we’re being technical, the whole team including the players and coaches won.
Superstars exist in all sports, but it’s only when they come together with those around them that they can rise and win. Real Madrid, one of the world’s most wealthiest and known soccer clubs, had a policy in the early 2000s which was dubbed the “Galacticos era” where they would break world records and spend insane amounts of money to bring in the best players – at the time those were Zidance, Figo, David Beckham, the original Ronaldo, etc. And ironically, the more mega stars they bought, the worse the team got.
Why am I talking about sports though? Well, because athletics represent result based versions of a lot of principles and in this case, the importance of collaboration and teamwork.
The creative industry is extremely collaborative. Even the ones that on the surface seem like solitary disciplines, such as writing or painting, require collaboration in the end. We all need feedback for one thing. Secondly, friends or a community help us to grow. They inform us of things we’re unaware of. I always love talking with my friends about their projects because I know I’m learning something new which I can then apply to my own work and vice versa. That’s the true value in having a community from a success standpoint as an artist. Together, you can grow faster than you could individually.
Truthfully, I never understood why anyone I knew would ever get envious of someone else. If one of my friends suddenly became the head of Warner Brothers, I’d be thrilled because all that means to me is now I have an “in” at Warner Brothers to potentially do some amazing stuff. And conversely, if I was thrust into that position, I’d try to make sure I offered as much opportunities to the people I know as I could. That’s the power of a social network in action. And like all things worth pursuing in life, it takes time and effort to develop. It doesn’t just happen. But, it’s one of the easier aspects you can control. It’s a choice, a simple one I’d argue, to be nice to people. That’s really where it all starts.
I’ve unfortunately seen too many people that thought they knew it all or at the very least could do everything themselves. It’s such a mistake because even though they could perhaps do it themselves, it takes way more work and where’s the fun? Chris McCandless, who is the subject of the film Into The Wild where after college he decided to live a solitary life in the wilderness of Alaska only to die, wrote “Happiness is only real when shared.” Those few words were among the last Chris ever wrote. Let that truly sit with you for a moment. Pretty powerful right?
“Happiness is only real when shared.”
I think about that quote often especially when I see people in LA or wherever else seeking fame. Who’s that for? There’s a difference between sharing your experiences and insights and passions and art with the world versus the desire for adulation. In the former, the world benefits from what you have to offer. And so do you. It’s a give and take. You’re part of the community as much as everyone else. No one person’s opinion has more weight in that sense than anyone else’s.
There’s a tip I learned regarding social media which is that whenever you see something, you should comment on it. Doesn’t matter if it’s an Instagram photo or a YouTube video. Write something. Shamelessly I encourage you to share a thought right now. The reason for this tip is because by writing something out, you’re eliminating the disconnect that exists. In fact, if you don’t, you’re actually actively creating a mental distance between you and the person. It dehumanizes those around you.
We have to understand we’re all on the same level. In the US there’s lots of narrative about a divide. It’s no secret; it’s because we’re creating more and more distance. We’re drawing a line in the sand so to speak. Us versus them.
But if we all start to think of ourselves as equal, progress happens. Growth happens. That’s the importance of building and being part of a community.
And I’ll go back to sports, because sports have proven this time and time again. Individuals who started off in competition with each other would work together for the common goal and win championships. And even if they weren’t teammates there’s still a way to be part of a community. This is known as rivals. Rivals, like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, are good for each other because they push each other to their limits. But it’s not malicious. Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO for a number of years dating back to the 2000s, admits that whenever his competitors had a success he’d call the CEO of that competitor company and congratulate him or her and vice versa. Incredible to think about because I believe many times we fall into this trap of looking at these corporations as cut-throat. But the best recognize that there’s no real winning. The goal, as Simon Sinek would say, is to keep playing the game. The game in this sense is for all these companies to remain in business. It’s part of what he calls the infinite game theory.
I won’t digress too deep into that theory, but the interesting take-away is that much of the world’s leadership he argues is focused on the wrong aspects because they don’t know what game they’re playing. It’s a vast oversimplification of course but in the context of community it works because there’s no finite goal and no real winning. Rivals underscore your blindspots or weaknesses so you can adjust. And vice versa.
See, even in competition, there can be joy because there’s progress. Life coach Tony Robbins says, “Progress equals happiness.” That I submit to you is the true value of a community. To learn and grow together, to push everyone within that community to their absolute best and create something new or of greater value.
I did an episode a while ago about how to scientifically combat procrastination. The main point was that you need someone to hold you accountable otherwise you’ll slip. Now, even though I’ve given the ending away to that lesson, it’s still very valuable and I recommend checking it out if you haven’t done so already.
Anyways, accountability only happens when you have the right support around you aka a community of people – friends, colleagues, mentors, coaches, family and even rivals. Each must be nurtured properly. Again, they must be a reflection of you. They must push you and you must push them. It doesn’t always have to seem as forceful and strenuous as I’m making it out to be, but that’s the underlying spirit. Remember, go back to my example – whenever I get together with my friends for dinner and drinks, it’s very casual but we’re conversing and expanding. It’s a conscious choice to do so. Like all people we may gossip and vent a little but we always bring ourselves back to an ideal of talking about ideas because the former is just complaining and doesn’t ultimately benefit us in any way. In fact it hurts us because it creates that mental distance that I was alluding to earlier.
Feeling a sense of community allows you to tap into the full oneness of the world. You’ll see the interconnectivity of everything and be able to tap into various truths and bring them to light through your art.
When you stop separating the world from yourself and your individual beliefs, you’ll be much more amazed at what’s possible. SheEO founder Vicki Saunders has a phrase, “Collaboration is the new competition.” I think she’s right. Furthermore, scientific evidence points to the idea that when you complain to no end and see the world as separate from you then you live in a negative state of mind and only go further into despair and eventually depression. Gratitude is the opposite. Gratitude has such positive effects on your work, your health, you happiness and so on. A powerful stepping stone towards gratitude is to cultivate that community of people around you.
But what exactly does a community mean or more directly, what type of community should you be seeking? Simply put, it should be people with a positive mindset. It’s not by coincidence that people call it positive energy because it’s exactly that, an energy. Energy has the power to create and propel movement. And people can carry either positive energy or negative energy. Sometimes, people can have a bad day and they have bad energy. That’s okay. What I’m referring to is the sum of their overall being. Are they a “Debby Downer” or are they a bright and shining light? If it’s the former, I suggest you stay away unless that person is going through some serious problems and really wants to get better in which case I would encourage you to help them if you can in some way. It’s not only the right thing to do but is an investment into your community because they will not forget that kindness.
I realize that I’m meandering a little and giving different scenarios to you but that’s because life isn’t a straight path. Weeks ago I did an episode where I showcased that the only real dichotomy in life is an intrinsic value of wanting to create vs wanting to destroy. In building your community you must recognize that value in people even if it’s buried deep beneath the surface. After all, that’s a benefit of a community, everyone is there to help while simultaneously benefiting regardless of what part of their journey in life they are at.
Okay, but how specifically do you form these communities of people. Well, that’s the beautiful thing about the day and age we live in. There are so many opportunities for us to connect with people, whether locally or globally. And I encourage you to take advantage of all of them. You need real life friends you can interact with physically but the internet and social media has the ability to connect us based on our interests. Be grateful for that. There are hundreds of apps, like Meetup, that bridge the digital with real. It’s such an exciting time. I love meeting new people and nurturing those interactions into more significant bonds. Doesn’t always work but that’s okay. The more you partake within your community the more you get. That’s the duality of it. It’s like breathing. You must breathe in. That’s the take. But you must breathe out as well. That’s the give. It won’t work if you just constantly breath in. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Thanks as always for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen to my words. As may already be implied, it is my way of giving to you and other artists across the world in hopes that you may grow as a result. I want to build a community of artists and converse and reach new heights. Which is why I encourage you to comment with any thoughts you have. They can be questions or even suggestions for what lessons you’d like to see me tackle next. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, I invite you to do so now so you don’t miss any new episodes. Furthermore, in the spirit of this lesson, please share this link with anyone you know who may benefit from this lesson or any of my other lessons. Speaking of communities, a fantastic one is called AfterBuzz TV – an online network dubbed the “ESPN of TV Talk”. If you love TV, check them out. If you’re an aspiring host or someone who wants to work in the entertainment industry and you live in LA, you should definitely check them and see how you can become involved. The contact page is included below as are all the various platforms this show is on as well as the transcript for this episode so you can review anytime. My website also has tons of other free resources for you. Lastly, I’d love to have a greater impact with this series but to do it I need more resources. And so if it doesn’t burden you financially in any way, please check out my Patreon page at patreon.com/philsvitek. I’ve included exciting rewards including group coaching and swag.
Now, one final tip – for the past year I’ve been exploring the best backup online storage option. It had to be two things: cheap and handle lots of data. I have finally found such a service: https://www.backblaze.com/. It’s $6 a month but you can have unlimited storage. Literally. That’s insane. I’ve been using it and I feel so much safer with all the files I have not getting lost forever due to a hard drive crash. Plus, you can access all your hard drives from anywhere in the world. That’s cool too.
So there you have it. Thank you and I’ll see you next Wednesday with another lesson. Bye.