Better Together: Create a Spirit of Community

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By Christina Kunkle, RN $5" $FSUJGJFE -JGF BOE 8FMMOFTT $PBDI

Better Together Create a Spirit of Community YOU are Important! If each grain of sand were to say: One grain of sand does not make a mountain, There would be no land. If each drop of water were to say: One drop does not make an ocean, There would be no sea. If each note of music were to say: Each note does not make a symphony, There would be no melody. If each word were to say: One word does not make a library, There would be no books. If each brick were to say: One brick does not make a wall, There would be no house. If each seed were to say: One seed does not make a field, There would be no harvest. If each of us were to say: One person does not make the difference,



There would never be love and peace on earth. You and I do make the difference. Begin today and make the difference. —Author unknown “I can’t take this pressure anymore. Something has to give before I collapse!” an overwhelmed client shared tearfully, holding up a to-do list that filled up the entire legal pad. “There’s so much screaming out for my time and energy that I don’t know where to start, and the worst part is I’m on my own getting it done.” Can you relate to the struggle of going it alone? If so, you’re in good company. Many of us are left isolated and out of sorts in our personal and professional lives as we try to juggle career, family, health challenges, and much more by ourselves. The past is over and cannot be changed, but imagine what it would be like to have a healthy circle of support in the future, with the days of doing it all yourself behind you … where our fierce independence was transformed into the energy of partnership, friendship, and facing challenges together! No doubt you’ve heard the motto “Together Everyone Achieves More.” This collaborative approach is the foundation of interaction, whether I’m working with private clients, teaching resilience workshops, or facilitating leadership development. In addition to making productivity easier and more fun, a team atmosphere helps us lean into a healthier lifestyle. A 2006 study of 3,000 nurses

done by the American Society of Clinical Oncology determined that women with 10 or more friends were four times more likely to survive breast cancer, and a 2008 Harvard study suggested that friendship may promote better brain health as we age. It seems that collaboration strengthens the mind-body-spirit connection. (In fact, take note: there’s no “I� in “Wellness,� but there is “WE!�) What that says to me is that you can’t thrive alone. We can create a spirit of community by taking three easy steps. First, we make a choice to collaborate. Second, we take action to build bridges, instead of walls, between ourselves and others. And third, but most importantly, we reap the rewards of having a positive social network.

Step 1—Make a Choice: To compete or collaborate? The ideal is to thrive in community, yet in our cut-throat culture we are tempted to drive ourselves hard through “manpower,� which is the energy of competition. Here all your power comes just from you. Our society fosters the belief that there’s not enough to go around, and our knee-jerk reaction is to grab and grasp, using our elbows to protect what’s ours if necessary. This atmosphere is exceptionally draining, preventing us from being guided naturally by our inner wisdom and intuition, where power moves through you, helping to easily accomplish your goals in warm collaboration with others. Even in the face of our unrealistic expectations, we may think, “I should be able to keep up this pace.� So we just push harder with a stiff upper lip and forge on, often neglecting our own needs in the process for fear of being judged as weak or incompetent. While there are certainly times when working independently on a project is obviously the best choice, we may put undue pressure on ourselves to find our own answers. For a long time I personally resisted asking for help because “I should be able to figure this out myself!� After experiencing great frustration relying on just my own mind, I now deliberately seek out teaching from mentors who have already mastered the skills I need. It not only cuts the learning curve tremendously, but it’s a lot more fun! And you do love to have fun, don’t you? Japanese poet Ryunosuke Satoro wrote, “Individually, we are one drop, but Together, we are an ocean.� Instead of competing, what do you say we use our collective power to collaborate, making each other better in the process? t 5BLF "DUJPO Look Within by writing down the personal and professional goals you are trying to achieve right now. Is there a place where you’re driving too hard to do it all yourself? How can you partner with others as you accomplish your goals? Make a choice to stay open to the possibilities.

when it comes to basic knowledge of being an entrepreneur! You’re sure to move forward faster than you would have on your own and with a lot less frustration to boot. 3FNFNCFS 4ZOFSHZ 4IPSUDVU What will you do with all the time and energy you save? Take a much needed nap, read that book you bought last year, enjoy an afternoon with your family at the park, or write a note of encouragement to an ill friend? Just remember that whatever healthy changes you make ripple through your whole social circle, coming back to inspire you. If you need a little extra incentive, Martha Beck, PhD, found that kids model what we do to ourselves more than what we do to them, so let’s be intentional and set a positive example for them to follow. t 5BLF "DUJPO Reach out by taking one baby step to build a bridge between yourself and others. There’s no better time than the present, so take your first step TODAY. Ask someone you trust to hold you accountable, and soon you’ll be making progress with grace and ease. With each step forward, the walls that separate you from others will fall down and you’ll begin to see firsthand how 1 + 1 = 3 or more.

Step 3—Reap the Rewards: Stay happy, healthy and connected. Think about the possibilities! When you make changes in your own life, you become a positive influence on your friends and family. With more energy and vitality we are able to be more helpful and generous to those around us, which continues to ripple even further through social and civic networks and out into the world we all share. By moving from surviving in isolation to truly thriving, we are available to be of more service to those around us. According to a 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, social connections improve your health. People who hang around others who think positively also tend to think positively. t 5BLF "DUJPO Choose to use the powerful momentum of synergy to create the happy life you deserve. You will see and feel the benefits right away, so capture your progress by writing in a journal. If you’re slipping into the old pattern of taking on too much yourself, this can be an effective tool to get back on track. Isn’t it time to let go of doing it all yourself? There’s strength in numbers, and being connected to something bigger is sure to help you stay focused, positive, and excited about your work and life. In closing, here’s a twist on one of my favorite quotes: “Collaboration is contagious ‌ but don’t wait to catch it ‌ be a carrier!â€? In a spirit of healthy community, Christina Q

Step 2—Take Action: Build bridges, not walls. Once you’ve made the choice to pursue community, it’s time to take action, reaching toward like-minded others on the same path. For example, if you desire a greater level of health and fitness, you could invite friends to walk with you or join a yoga class at your local gym. There’s real motivation when you build a team of buddies who are counting on you to show up. If you want to start your own business, I invite you to follow my footsteps using the generous resources available from those who have made it their passion to help you succeed at your local small business development center. Of course you will want to do things your own unique way, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel


Winter 2014


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