AXIS Performance Advisors

Demystifying sustainability

Community by Peter Block


Click on cover to see book on Amazon

Courtesy nuttakit,

Courtesy nuttakit,

This book lays out concepts associated with how to build community. It’s not a practical how-to approach but rather lays out some important distinctions:

  • Leadership is about convening, about inviting in, about framing a question that lets people take responsibility (or not).
  • Call a gathering, not a meeting.
  • It’s not about problem solving; it’s about uncovering possibilities.
  • The small group is the unit of transformation. This is especially powerful when part of a larger group process.
  • All transformation is linguistic; the power of language. Transformations are essentially linguistic and part of the task is to change our relationship (our story) of the past.
  • For transformation to happen, there are six separate conversations (that can occur in almost any order): Invitation, Possibility, Ownership, Dissent, Commitment and Gifts.

Having been the convener in my neighborhood, I really resonated with Block’s description of the psychological barriers to doing so:

“The anxiety of invitation is that if we give them a choice, they might not show up. I do not want to face the reality of their absence, caution, reservations, passivity, or indifference. I do not want to have to face the prospect that I or a few of us may be alone in the future we want to pursue.

“And I do not want to face the same truth about myself, for my fear that they will not come is the caution I feel myself about showing up, even for the possibility that I am committed to. My fear is that what I long for is not possible, that what I invite them to is not realistic, that the world I seek cannot exist. And so I imagine myself as a misplaced person, an exile. It is today’s version of an old story that I am wrong and I will soon be found out. The fear that no one will show up is a projection of my own doubt, my own loss of faith.”

But it was well worth the risk.

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