📝 Notes for the Curious: Edition #75


In Edition #71 I talked about a trip I had recently been on to Berlin as part of my role as a Circle Lead for Facebook’s Community Leadership Circle program. During a keynote session there, we had been told that the 103 Circle Leads in the program represented communities which collectively reached 43 million people. I found that mind-blowing. Often we are so deep in the work we are doing we don’t make time to consider the impact that work creates.

Last weekend we hosted the first Circle meetup in Amsterdam. There were 16 attendees in total, including myself and my co-lead. I was curious about how those numbers in Berlin would be reflected in our local Circle. During the session we asked each attendee to tell us how many people were in their main community. From 16 people, we had a collective reach of almost two million. Two. Million. From 16 people.

When I tell people that I believe that community will save the world, this is what I mean. It is through our communities, through our connections that we are able to find commonalities, explore our differences and spread our messages much further than we ever could alone.

Now, let’s get on with the Notes…

1) Clean it up

Community isn’t about numbers, in fact, if you are focusing on how many people you can collect you are almost certainly doing it wrong. In community you are looking for quality of connection over quantity. This is particularly true on social media. A friend and I have regular discussions about reducing our Facebook friend lists to as few people as possible. When another friend posted this article last week I was reminded that it might be time for another clean up. In Edition #43 of the Notes I talked about a tool I had used to unfollow everyone I had friended and every page I had liked on Facebook. For some people, simply deleting connections is the easiest route. I think that’s great if you can do that, I struggle with that, especially because as soon as I unfriend someone, Facebook seems to suggest that they friend me, causing one of those awkward “I thought we were already Friends” conversations. So I take a different path, I unfollow people, pages and groups and make sure that I only see updates from the people I most want to hear from.

In the discussion on the article I linked to above, we touched upon the dangers of creating an echo chamber around yourself if you remove anyone on your social media that you don’t agree with. That is definitely a concern and one that meant that once upon a time I stayed connected to people far too long in order to try to keep myself aware of other people’s perspectives - particularly those I disagreed with. What I came to realise though is that by restricting my newsfeed to people I want to hear from I’m not creating an echo chamber, I’m creating a “safe” space. I intentionally build and interact in groups where I do not necessarily align with the views of every member. I consciously engage in conversations with people that I wouldn’t necessarily meet in real life to try and understand their perspectives. And I do so with no focus on the outcome, I am as happy to agree to disagree as I am to learn something that shifts my way of thinking. Echo chambers are created by those who want to live in them, not by curating one place on the internet where you only see what you want to see. Clean up your online experience, I promise you’ll feel better for it.

2) The LAdy Hero’s Journey

I’ve always like the concept of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces but there was no getting away from the fact that it is written from a very male perspective. Never fear. A brilliant woman has now corrected that, it’s time for the Lady Hero’s Journey. To be read with your tongue firmly in your cheek.

3) Microexpressions

I really enjoyed this short dive into the way cultures express themselves. We are so conditioned to recognise tiny facial movements, or microexpressions in our own culture that when presented with an alternative culture we can often miss critical signals which help deepen our understanding of the other person.

4) Embrace your inner introvert

My life got exponentially easier once I realised I was an introvert. Finally, I knew why I reacted to things very differently to some of my friends and why I would feel physically drained after large social events. It was a relief, but in a world that often feels as though it was built for introverts I also felt that I was still having to adapt myself in order to fit in. Not only was that uncomfortable, it was exhausting. Eventually, I decided to just give up. With age comes either wisdom or, at least, less interest in what other people think of you. I embraced my introvert nature and decided to operate in alignment with it instead of trying to do what other people thought I should. It was magical. Networking was one of the things I gave up. Conventional networking really isn’t my thing and I am in a luxury position of having a fairly extensive network to draw on already. If you are a) an introvert and b) do still need to network then this is an excellent quick guide networking in a way that works for, not against your natural personality.

5) The life changing art of relaxation

I find myself in an interesting phase right now. I am learning to relax. Spoiler alert: it turns out, I’m terrible at it. I’m someone who thrives on constant brain engagement, who is always looking for the next project, the next learning experience. The closest I get to relaxed is “Netflix and chill”, except I’m usually crocheting at the same time… and maybe looking at my phone every now and then… In the last few months I have been intentionally switching off, powering down. Spending extended (for me) tech free periods, and leaving large gaps in my diary where I am not allowed to do, well, anything. I just have to be. It’s been uncomfortable and challenging. And it looks like I’m not the only one who struggles with this, we are a generation of busy, and if we want to change then we’re going to have to learn to do things differently.

Until the next Notes,


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Who am I and who do I help? I’m Emmy McCarthy and I make small businesses better and help people create leadership in their communities.

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