What have you done?

What have you done?

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This is the question I dread in every media interview. This question has brought me to tears of frustration many times, because I don’t have the words to fully describe the answer. The world wants a simple headline or an easily definable outcome to appease its primal energy-saving desire to simplify complexity. The world wants to quantify everything into the tangible.

“So, what have you done?” – Uuugh!

Last week, I finally felt like I’d broken through the pain of that question. I had a shift in perspective that helped me to realise that it’s OK for me to not try to answer it. It’s OK for me to take a stand, and no longer play, or build, in that realm. Doing that would never feel like success, for me.

I think the real question could be something like – “How do you bring community together, so it can get more done?”

In my experience, progress in community is a byproduct of togetherness and trust. The more a community can work together, the more it can achieve together. In our society, the very fabric of community is being broken down by the exponential scaling of various tools of manipulation. Without our full knowledge and awareness, things like social media, 24-hour news media and ever-increasing mass marketing are, little by little, reprogramming us. More often than not, it is a process of disconnection, individualisation and separation. Consequently, we are losing the capacity of government and community to make progress. Communities everywhere are succumbing to a great separation, in many ways fueled by the importance given to individual doing and achievement.

Deep frustrations are emerging everywhere, because the world is not ‘moving’ in the direction each individual wants it to. The attempted mass scaling of individual desires is leading to the collective gridlock we’re seeing in the modern world. We all want what we want, but we are not willing to hear and integrate enough of what everyone else wants, to make progress.

To move together, we must be part of something bigger than ourselves. We have to believe, and buy into, a bigger story than just our own.

I spend time every day creating more togetherness and trust, so that existing people and resources in the community feel sufficiently confident and empowered to do more. I tell stories that make people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. I create shifts in perspective that help people to transcend disagreement and disconnection. I seed solutions that offer a third way.

Much of what I do is about meeting the right person, in the right place, at the right time, in the right way, about the right thing. That is the essence: how a single coffee or connection can make waves in community. I have become really good at it. It is an art and science: holding conversations in small informal spaces that sew community back together, whilst encouraging everyone I meet to do the same. It’s about building a self-expanding human connection machine, coffee by coffee.

From doing this work for 5 years, I have discovered that this single act makes more happen than anything else does. This is also why I have stopped doing everything else – other than just having coffee.

So what did I really do, last year? I had a lot of coffee.

How did you bring the community together to get more done?

M

P.S. I have been working on a prototype that brings together some of the art and science of having coffee to make impact. It can be found here.

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  1. Brilliant and you got that gift! You have been a very vital part of the success of my community project so quickly and yes we can say it took really just that one coffee to get things really moving. Thank you and keep the caffeine going! In your case it is extremely healthy to have a lot of it 🙂

  2. Tarquin Thomas says:

    With all the coffee that you mention in your posts, are you sponsored by Nescafé?

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