I have participated in many business, educational and networking groups over the past eighteen years. Some are just what you would expect, and most provide good opportunities to meet others, learn from the speakers, and grow as a professional. I have always actively participated in these groups, even talking leadership positions in a variety of organizations.
If you have read my books, or this blog, you know that I am an enthusiastic advocate of the benefits of being actively involved in your business community. Opportunities come from people, and therefore you must create and maintain at network of contacts that can and will become part of your inner circle. The trick is to find the right people who are capable of making a difference.
But the truth is that most people you meet are not as passionate about cultivating a real relationship with you, and do not actively desire to invest the necessary time to become your real friend. Many you meet are just there to see what you can give to them, and they hope you will open your rolodex and supply THEM with leads, not vice versa.
The good news is that there are also AMAZING people out there whom can come into your life and inspire you to new levels. You just have to keep looking for them and get involved in unique business and professional organizations.
I am currently part of a phenomenal group of local business leaders in Austin. The Leadership Austin program has been an important part of the community since 1979. Each year for three decades this organization has created a class of 55 individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Monthly for nine months the class meets for day long classes where community leaders (from business, government, healthcare, social services, etc...) come in and share information about the past, present and future of our community. We also have the opportunity to spend time together socially and get to know each other.
I was amazed at first that I only knew six of the fifty-four other members of the class, as I had assumed I was well connected in my city. As it turns out, there are many silos of interest where we live and work. When one becomes known in their "world", they assume their silos are everything. The truth is that our own area is not the whole. To understand this we must get outside of our routine and become exposed to people of different backgrounds and interests.
Now, three months into the program, I am even more amazed that clearly many of these recent "strangers" are quickly becoming my friends. They are all passionate people who desire to make a difference. We met earlier this week, and since I am currently focused on viewing the examples of passion in people, it was evident that my fellow classmates are all amongst the most enthusiastic and visionary people I have ever met. This post would be too long if I described them individually, but rest assured that the future of our community is in good hands.
Most larger communities have programs like Leadership Austin. They are not easy to get into (I applied and was rejected three times over the past few years) because of the large number of applicants and limited annual class size. However, if you wish to find real passionate people who are making things happen in their businesses and communities, then this is a great place to start. I am proud to be an active member of the 2008 Essential Class (The best class ever!). These people have amazing passion for life.
Have A Great Day.
****The Celebrate Passion Project on "The Some Assembly Required Blog" will run all month in December 2007. Every post this month will touch on honoring people who have a special spark for life or helping others (and me!) to discover ways to re-ignite our internal passions for our world.
I challenge other bloggers who read this to dedicate one day in December on their blog to "The Celebrate Passion Project", and in their own way praise those they encounter who have a special way of expressing the excitement in their soul. And then encourage your readers to do the same!