I ran into a friend recently at Walmart. We have spent quite a bit of time together including some pretty long and deep spiritual conversations. However, I can guarantee if I were to introduce you to my friend, they would not be able to tell much about my life.
I can tell you where they live, what they do for work, names of their children, and a can even share with you what their fondest dream is. What is the difference? I ask questions and they don't. There is a simple and wide spread epidemic crossing society today.
We have become so isolated in our lives, without community of any sort, that we no longer are well versed in the art of conversation. It actually makes some people uncomfortable to ask questions of others. I heard at a recent event I attended that there is a "tribe" of people who ask the question in this way "How are you? How are the children?" What a beautiful expression.
In community, in tribes, the art of conversation and asking questions accomplish two things that are critical in any relationship. They discover and reveal values and they reinforce values. Let me explain, questions in conversation can clear away all the clutter, all the distraction and really get to the soul values we have. What is the most important thing in your day? What are you truly invested in. Conversation and questions can keep us focused on self monitoring and serve to reinforce what matters most in life.
I was asked recently, how it is that you determine in a community which questions are the important ones to ask? I share my perspective from a spiritual nature, yet, is not all of life a spiritual nature?
Building a Community
What gauges are important to the mission of the community? The first step is to determine what are three or four area's that you are vital to the thriving nature of the community. These are your gauge questions that you need to monitor. Think of it this way, in your car you have gauges that tell you what the water temperature is, what your speed is, and how much fuel you have. Watching these gauges is paramount to the car moving you in the direction you want to go. It is the same principle with the gauges in your community.
Participation is a gauge, for example, that needs to monitored. How are you engaging the community? How invested are your participants? Are they simply going through the motions or are they excited and motivated? Invested and motivated participation is crucial in the growth of a community. This one gauge begs the question "are we doing things a certain way because we have always done them that way".
Who is participating? Whether your community is a spiritual gathering or the corporate board room, the question is the same. Who is sitting at the table and who should be invited that is not there yet? When you can objectively look at those who are contributing to your community and determine who is missing, the missing pieces of the puzzle can be sought out. The rewards of having the voices heard will contribute vastly to the engagement of participants.
It is key to understand that within any community, that not all can do all, see all or engage all. Each individual voice has something "unique" to add to the conversation. This also ensures that the "visionaries" of the community don't leave the "doers" behind.
Discovering these gauges for your unique community, whether it is spiritual, business, or for a cause, are key in the expansion possibilities. When you take the moments to un-Earth the roots while nurturing the branches reaching into the skies, you will reap the gifts of what you have sowed even as you continue to sow new seeds. Asking the right questions is crucial to 'read' the health of your community.