Over the last few years I’ve been thinking a lot about how to connect people in deeper and more meaningful ways. A lot of my thinking has revolved around the role of community in that function.
I think people have (at least) two essential needs: a need for love and a need for creativity. We all want to feel connected and supported. We want to feel like we’re supporting others – we want to feel “wanted.” And we want to create. We want to feel like we are expressing our full potential.
I’ve always been intent on “being the best I can be.” But it has only been recently, over the last year or two, that I’ve seen how intimately these two functions of love and creativity are related in that endeavor. Being the best I can be happens when I help others to be the best they can be and others, in turn, help me to be the best I can be. Being the best I can be happens when I feel connected and loved. And being the best I can be happens when I feel deeply authentic and creative. That’s when all of my latent abilities truly come to the surface.
Historically, the individual has often been considered at odds with the collective. Think about how we’ve been governing ourselves – we’ve optimized our societies to either uphold the individual at the expense of the collective (capitalism) or uphold the collective at the expense of the individual (communism). But what if the best system revolves around maximizing individual expression and collective integration at the same time?
I experienced this most recently with a community of thirty thousand people taking an online class out of MIT. Part of the class revolved around breaking up into small groups of five people. Our group consisted of people from all over the world with very different backgrounds and interests. Through a method led by the class instructor, Otto Scharmer, we had the opportunity to practice being authentic and supportive at the same time.
The process called on me to be vulnerable about challenges in my life with complete strangers who were also taking this class. It was a practice of deep listening and mutual support. By tapping into each others intuitive and creative capacities in the safe space of our small group, we were each able to become a better version of ourselves through the experience of our interaction. Each of us growing as individuals and feeling deeply connected to one another.
These are strangers that I only connected with a couple months ago and yet we continue to support each other on a regular basis. I recently visited Oslo and had a chance to connect with one of the members in our group in person for the first time.
The question for me has been: how can we extend this way of being into our every day lives? How can we bring this level of connection, support, and creativity to more and more people around the world? How can we extend this sense of connection to the core of our society – our work, our communities, our service, and our social life? How can we cultivate more mutually supportive communities and foster more collaboration?
So many projects that we work on could benefit from being co-creative community efforts – not just benefit ourselves, but benefit the entire community through the interaction itself. There is so much potential for joy when we truly collaborate around creative work. Shifting this dynamic would have a profound impact on how people see themselves in relation to each other.
This has been our vision with Sutra. The intention is to extend this kind of interaction to more people, building stronger communities and bringing more love into the world through mutual support and co-creation.
Towards this aim, we hope to make Sutra itself this kind of project. A collaborative effort to build a platform where the intersection of all the energies and strengths of the people behind Sutra serve to bring out the strengths and energies of the communities and people using Sutra.
Sketch credit: Amanda Lyons