Community = a group of people that care about each other and feel they belong together.
Let’s take that apart:
- “A group of people”: in the end of the day, a community always exists of humans. That seems obvious at first, but I see a lot of use of the word that is dehumanized and abstract: “the marketing community”, “the international community”, “the St. Clarke’s Streets community”, the “AirBnB community”. In the end, we are talking about real humans with real lives, real stories, real hopes, real dreams.
- “that care about each other”: this is in my opinion the absolute core of a community. The individuals in a group are not just random strangers, they have relationships with each other. They give a shit about each other. They care more about the people in this group than about the average person they meet on the street. This is where the magic of a community happens. When people care about each other, they develop trust. And trust unlocks collaboration, sharing, support, hope, safety and much more. While most organizations in the world optimize their performance towards external goals, communities optimize for trust.
- “feel they belong”: communities address one of the most fundamental human needs: we want to be loved, we don’t want to be lonely and we want to know that we belong somewhere. Real communities give us this sense of home, this sense of family, this sense of “these are my peers”. This is my tribe, this is where I belong. In this group, I am being accepted for who I really am.
- “together”: a community gives people a sense of shared identity. We are together. The sum is bigger than the individual parts. This shared identity matters, because it takes the group beyond individual, 1:1 relationships. It turns strangers into trusted peers through a proxy effect: even though I don’t know you, I trust you more than the average person because we are part of the same community, we share the same identity. Many of us express our interests, ambitions and goals through the people we spend time with — communities become part of our identity.