“If you were a grown up right now, what would you do?” Charlie Seashore
The core tool of a network organization is not software. It is the Use of Self. A network of individuals working together requires that each of us acts as an agent of interrelatedness. Use of Self is actively practicing empathy with our relations, exercising awareness of our own assumptions and behavior in an interconnected world, and then making conscious choices in relationship.
Using a metaphor of a vital network in our lives, an ocean, when you see plastic bits of trash in your ocean, what do you do? do you empathize with the ocean creatures as part of yourself? do you organize a Swim Fundraiser? stop using plastic bags from the store? make art with plastic trash? Create public policy about plastic? Share a link? Do you build a trash picking tool? What is your Use of Self?
Network organizations work similarly. In a network, there is no boss or parent to tell us what to do. A network is not an institutional organization or family, where it is easy to regress into a passive state. A network can enable life to be richer for each individual. But, if we all expect someone else to be the one, to fix stuff, to pay for what we each use, then we end up with the Tragedy of the Commons. Our commons starts to look like a dump.
In a network, what you get reflects what you put in. And, what you get also reflects what others put in. For example, Dreamfish is a network of individuals working on a common dream to work like humans to realize our dreams. Out of thousands connecting to this vision, a few people are caring for the whole network: 5% of us are contributing time, energy and creativity to the whole network. But, we could do so much more if all of us exercised our Use of Self.
Part of the reason that the network stats look like this is that I needed to shift my use of self as a leader. To remember that in this school of fish, I do not need to swim alone. So, I am reaching out to you and asking you to swim with me.
My appeal is especially directed to you who swim in Dreamfish and networks supporting human development. Imagine shifting from a network of followers to a network of leaders. Imagine if 100% of us contributed a small bit of our time, money, energy and creativity to a network to build the support system that we each need. Imagine if each of us was responsible for building capacity that could support our individual work. Folks organizing local events. Senior consultants mentoring women and youth entrepreneurs in rural villages. Folks teaching online workshops. Developers building tools that help us connect. We hire each other. We volunteer to help do something that is easy for us, but may be hard for another. Imagine the value that would be liberated, the impact we could make!
Swim swim Self!