Bázis

   A couple weeks ago, a few of us hung out at the Bázis.  This place is sweet.  It is sort of a pub/café with retro communist 1970 furniture, a loft hand-built by my friends Domi and Balázs, and a old wine cellar transformed into a disco and table-ice-hockey game room.  Whoa.Two of our American friends, Dave and Donnie, were in town visiting, and it was really cool to have them there.  We also had an awesome conversation on the topic of community.  A lot of questions were asked which is usually a sign of a good conversation.  Among several great summarizing thoughts, Dave mentioned,

“Reciprocity is essential but there are no guarantees. Choosing how we will live in a competitive, partnered, and unstable world is risky but essential.  Treating everyone as a competitor undermines all partnership and eventually produces isolation.  Partnership produces community, and community produces much of what gives life meaning: identity, value, and purpose.” 

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community building

Somewhat related to the previous post, M. Scott Peck identified a typical process people go through as they are transformed into “true community.”  Here’s wikipedia’s summary of this process:

  • Pseudocommunity: This is a stage where the members pretend to have a bon homie with one another, and cover up their differences, by acting as if the differences do not exist. Pseudocommunity can never directly lead to community, and it is the job of the person guiding the community building process to shorten this period as much as possible.
  • Chaos: When pseudocommunity fails to work, the members start falling upon each other, giving vent to their mutual disagreements and differences. This is a period of chaos. It is a time when the people in the community realize that differences cannot simply be ignored. Chaos looks counterproductive but it is the first genuine step towards community building.
  • Emptiness: After chaos comes emptiness. At this stage, the people learn to empty themselves of those ego related factors that are preventing their entry into community. Emptiness is a tough step because it involves the death of a part of the individual. But, Scott Peck argues, this death paves the way for the birth of a new creature, the Community.
  • True community: Having worked through emptiness, the people in community are in complete empathy with one another. There is a great level of tacit understanding. People are able to relate to each other’s feelings. Discussions, even when heated, never get sour, and motives are not questioned.

Community and Organizations

Community does not exist for organizations.  Organizations exist for the sake of the community in which they belong.  Community is about people, and organizations exist to serve those people…not the other way around.  Organizations can often wander through years of trouble and frustration (even economically) when they see their own organization as their end purpose and goal.  And organizations experience tremendous freedom, empowerment, and productivity when they become a bit self-less.

Organization-minded people are concerned with the activities, productivities, responsibilities of the internal and external affairs of the organization.  Community-minded people are concerned with human activities, our sense of mutual well-being, and the truth of our connectedness as members of this global society.  As a result, community-minded people must embrace an element of chaos as they consider not how the community can integrate into their organization but rather how their organization can better integrate into the community.

As organizations re-orient themselves toward community, they will find the golden-rule at work and surprisingly effective.  But this effectiveness might come at the expense of the organization’s previous sense of control and certainty.  This new effectiveness will most likely require adjustments in the DNA of a organizationly-centered organization.

swimming

My friend Dani took me to the Komjádi swimming facility yesterday for the first time. I am NOT a swimmer. Nor do I really enjoy the water. But, after yesterday I could see swimming as a new hobby. Wow.

Inspite of being a land-locked country, Hungary is without question a swimming culture. Hungary always does well in many of the water sports in the Olympics especially water polo.

So, I swam freestyle for 900 meters yesterday (Dani did 3000). Oh my. I learned that it is ALL about technique. At first, my technique was horrible (I’ve never had a real swimming lesson). As a result I was only able to swim about 30 meters before turning over on my back so I could rest. I discovered that stamina in running doesn’t translate to stamina in swimming.

Dani gave me a bunch of tips, and my technique improved quickly. After swimming 700 meters, my body was completely exhausted. But I still hadn’t been able to swim a full length of the pool (50 meters) non-stop. Dani gave me a couple more suggestions, and even though I was exhausted, I was finally able to freestyle swim the length non-stop. It was all about technique.

Great metaphor for life. “If the ax is dull and he does not sharpen it’s edge, he must exert more strength.”