What is the Size, Content and Quality of YOUR Village?
Most of us have heard the term “It takes a Village to raise a child.” Expanding on that reality, I would have to include all of us in the “child” category. Without implying any disrespect, I would suggest that we all have some area in which we could grow or improve. Therefore it seems to make sense that the potential of our growth is directly related to the size, content and quality of our village.
One tends to take on the qualities and habits of their closest friends and acquaintances. Of course those friends and acquaintances are not exactly like you, but typically there is quite a bit of common ground. The common ground is where trust, familiarity and comfort live. If we wish to learn and grow beyond our present level of comfortable complacency, we must expand both the size and content of our village, while maintaining or improving its quality. We must include in our village a little uncommon ground.
Over thirty years ago when my interests turned toward investing, my village was filled with people that had grown up in the same neighborhood, went to the same schools, learned from the same extended family as I. Most of us believed in saving money, but none of us knew much about investing, other than possibly how to spell it. I had to expand my village to grow.
Twenty-five years ago I found myself mostly surrounded by well-meaning co-workers, but facing challenging career obstacles without the benefit of technologically competent and culturally sensitive mentors. Again, I needed to expand my village.
As economic and careers opportunities for many Americans began to dwindle and I recognized the value of positive thinking, again, the village needed to be expanded. Clearly all those challenges still exist and in the last example, probably to a greater degree than ever. In addition, we are now faced with a “world order” that does not afford us any rational expectation of being shielded from the economic or political problems of the world. So what do we need? My belief is that we need an ever larger, an even more diverse, an even more supportive, and therefore an ever more powerful village than ever.
In 2004 I had the opportunity to address the Australian Shareholders Association in Sydney along with a delegation visiting Australia from China. That meeting expanded the village both economically and culturally. Several weeks ago I asked for “words of wisdom” to share with an audience that I would be addressing. Half the responses came from busy and successful people outside the United States, places that less than ten years ago, I would not have even thought of as a resource base. Due to the power of the Internet, and the growing understanding of the “village concept,” some of those valuable and life-enhancing responses came from people I have never met personally.
The one thing that remains constant, is that nothing worldly remains constant. Moving forward, I strongly suggest that if we expect to survive and prosper in the face of challenge, we need to continually consider the size, content and quality of our village. We also should understand that in our village, sometimes we will be in the position to share wisdom, and at other times we will be the student, and at most times the distinction will be blurred. Sometimes we may feel that we are carrying more than our share of the weight, and other times our load will be lighter because someone is carrying us.
I thank God daily for my village, and that village includes you!