About Sinead Tiernan:
I am obsessed with creating WOW experiences for people in life and in business. I coach my clients to remove frustrations and pain points that ultimately leads to the delivery of a customer experience that nurtures and grows raving fans. Happy employees deliver even happier customers and therefore I also work with business leaders to create outstanding employee engagement and wellness programs.
I have over 20 years experience in the corporate sector in the UK and Ireland. Driven by continuous growth I invest a lot of time and money in my own personal development in the areas of behavioural psychology, coaching and meditation.
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By Sinead Tiernan
When I first heard about Congregation and the central theme being community my reticular activating system went into overdrive seeking out lots of examples of how online communities have helped me grow personally over the last 6 years. My immediate top of mind association with the word community was online! Some examples of where online communities have worked extremely well for me in recent times:
- Personal Development – since attending programs run by the likes of Dr Joe Dispenza and Tony Robbins I have received huge value from their inner circle communities who keep the spirit of an offline high energy event alive in an online environment long after the event has taken place. We take part in masterminds together, we meditate together, we challenge each other daily to be our best selves, we celebrate our achievements together and we work together on business ideas and we do all this from the comfort of our own homes scattered near and far all over the world.One of my favourite sayings is ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and that undoubtedly applies to these communities where I have grown intellectually and spiritually. I have found excellent mentors in online communities that would have been near impossible to connect with offline.
- Health and Wellbeing – I haven’t drank alcohol in three years – what started out as a fun 30 day challenge in the run up to Christmas in 2016 in a close knit community online has become a way of living for me, further strengthened by Robin Sharma in his community where I have taken to the 5am club with gusto making my morning routine a habit that I rave about with clients.Hell, I even jump into my nearby lake all year round – because Wim Hoff and his community inspired me so much online!!!
- Learning and career development – I have studied courses and gained qualifications within online communities where the support amongst attendees has been phenomenal.Again, from the comfort of our own home we share knowledge and new ideas all with one goal in mind – to better educate ourselves for the future.
So, you can see why my old RAS went into overdrive on seeking out online examples when the theme of COMMUNITY was announced as lately I have been hanging out on their a lot!
When I go deep inside and I question what community really means to me – it comes down to connection – connection with people who have a common purpose and values that align. A great definition of community is that it is a group of people that care about each other and feel they belong together.
I was interested to hear what my friends said about community, so I asked for their input and below is their feedback on the subject:
Words like ‘Belonging’, ‘A lifeline’, ‘Collectiveness’, ‘togetherness’ were used to describe what community means by a majority.
Another said that he ‘felt community referred to any group of people who are connected either physically or digitally by a shared bond or interest. It helps us all to feel we are part of something, I feel it’s also a window, a temperature gauge for the health of a society.’
One friend who had a baby in the last year said that she only really felt that sense of community when she discovered the local parent and toddler group – again coming back to that shared interest binding them together.
I was told that community is a safe place to be yourself. A place where like-minded folks who are also empowered to challenge/disagree with each other with one mission – to grow.
Community is a reassurance in particular when you live in a rural area you never feel alone, and you always have someone you can call on. Equally that person can return the favour when they are in need. It’s unspoken!’
Community is a way that human beings care for each other without expectation of reciprocity. Communities thrive on respect and acceptance of a common goal…to help each member achieve safety. Community is positive, inclusive, there for you, resourceful. It’s the GAA, the community Cafe run by volunteers, it’s what neighbours do when you are grieving, it’s pulling together to improve our quality of life, it’s accepting each other regardless, it’s supporting each other, it’s keeping an eye out for each other and for the elderly living around us, it’s digging each other out when there’s snow, it’s the colours we wear when we’re proud to support our local teams. It’s the magic that gives our lives extra meaning.
One friend reminisced about the community feel when there were Irish nights on a Tuesday in the local hall and the stations at a neighbour’s house every few years when they went on a painting and cleaning frenzy to impress their guests.
Interestingly one felt that engagement in their community fluctuates depending on their or the needs of others.
Sometimes community is just the simple things, a polite hello to a neighbour, a catchup with an old friend. A feeling of not being alone.
Community is to another all about a sense of belonging and a sense of personal individual recognition and worth in a group setting. It can be online or offline although for most of an age above 30 real community is offline. Online community has been fantastic in terms of helping those for who the natural predisposition to judge based on a person’s appearance and circumstances sometimes alienates them. These obstacles are removed online for many.
I think that gives a lot of insight into the meaning of community to different people and I feel the majority of my friends unlike me would have been focused on offline rather than online when they were considering community.
One thing I know for sure is that communities take work – they must be nurtured like any relationship if they are to thrive. They require an energy to keep the conversation going and engagement high.
Another extremely important element of community is consistency – consistency matters, because it affects how members assess the future of the group. A consistent rhythm creates trust in people that this group will still be around in three, five, maybe ten years from now. And if I believe that this group will still be around in five years from now, it’s worth investing myself fully into it now. We all are investing our most valuable resources — time and trust — when we engage deeply with a community and we want to make sure the investment will pay off. Most communities have little collective value in the short-term, but as the value of relationships and trust compounds, the community becomes valuable. So, it makes sense for members to assess the chances of the group surviving more than just an initial excitement.
There are six human needs that drive all behaviour along with our values and beliefs. Community ticks the box on all six needs and in particular the core needs of Love/Connection and Significance. When I reflect on the higher needs of Growth and Spirituality, I feel that is why I go online to very specific groups to satiate those needs. Communities also deliver in their own way on the remaining two needs – variety and certainty.
Funnily enough only recently I have given input to a committee working on an initiative in my local town called ‘Believe in Ballinrobe’. BIB is basically a differentiating strategy developed to resurrect the community feel in the town by fostering a spirit of awareness, togetherness, acknowledgement and celebration. This strategy gives the feeling that we are on the cusp of something exciting in a town that has been on its knees since the recession. Only two weeks ago there was an awards ceremony ran by BIB to acknowledge the efforts of members of the community, clubs and societies and voluntary organisations like the Order of Malta for their hard work and dedication. We have had community days lead by the BIB team where we got the town out to help in a clean-up giving a fresh face to run down buildings and streets. Even though the rain lashed down everyone had a smile on their face and there was a buzz about the place – because they felt that magic that lives at the heart of a community. The people who turned out felt like they were making a difference and that they belonged to something greater.
And I feel this beautiful story sent to me by a friend is a fitting example to close this little ramble on as it captures the heartbeat of a community wonderfully:
‘I heard a great example of community the other day when friends who were over for dinner described their local village in Waterford- there was a couple in their 50’s who decided to get married. They really had no money for a wedding – so people came together to create their special day – my friend sang at the wedding, another person made the wedding cake, another organised beer and prosecco in the local pub, the chef in the pub cooked some food with another person providing two gazebos. There was a total of thirty-five guests at the wedding and the couple had the best day of their lives. In return the couple cut their friends hedges to say thanks. All supporting each other, no exchange of money, no sense of judgement as to who is what and who has what!’