Attitudes, Abilities and Skills
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become character. Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.” -Lao Tzu
Creating community is a path that attracts many people, but only a few actually turn their dreams into tangible reality. Even fewer succeed in making this reality last over time.
Of the many factors involved in succeeding in a group project, some are directly related to the presence and development of the personal, internal attitudes of founders and residents.
People’s attitudes, the way in which someone approaches life, are often part of a set of unconscious but learned beliefs and habits. Living and working together invites each person to be conscious of the attitudes they bring to a situation, and how those affect themselves and others. This happens naturally in groups, but can be facilitated by practicing and agreeing on ways of giving and receiving feedback, and accepting that others sometimes can tell us things we do not yet know about ourselves – and the consequences our actions have in our environment. One method used in some communities to put feedback into practice is Yohari’s Window.
Living and working together constantly bring about opportunities for becoming more conscious about attitudes and consequences. Understanding them, however, often requires people to learn new skills and tools. In fact, one of the most important attitudes for being in or joining a collective project is an openness to learning new things.
Having a learner’s attitude and a willingness to explore new ways of doing things can open many doors for changing the way a person is and acts in the world, and even experiences themselves – something working together to realise dreams can easily bring about. Sharing with others helps people develop skills in listening, communicating, and practising empathy. In making decisions together, people develop responsibility for the collective and their own power and empowerment. They also learn to accept the same power within others. Conflicts that emerge in the group are an opportunity to become aware of what is not working, and through conflicts people can develop communication skills, better understand the diversity of their group, and discover how to manage their own emotions. In managing common resources, on the other hand, people learn simplicity. Engaging actively with Earth, people cultivate their love for nature and respect for the cycles of life.
On the path towards creating sustainable community projects, personal development and learning new skills is central. With a learner’s attitude, both individuals and groups gain the capacity to see each challenge and situation as an invitation to grow and learn the relevant skills and abilities.
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