Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Importance of Community

About an hour ago I read a great post by Kami Huyse that spoke my heart.

A topic that has been coming up quite a bit in conversations with my friends lately has been centered around the idea of interdependence. It started when my friend Nick Millar talked to me about his positive impression of Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Two chapters in, the idea of interdependence spoke to him the most. That excited me. It actually amped me to the point of being unable to sleep because another person started to believe what I want to shout on the rooftops. We’re nothing without community! It's the belief that has shaped my life.

Kami said something great in her post I want to highlight: “If we are completely honest with ourselves we will readily admit that we need others to succeed.

I hope you believe that. Some people can be successful alone, it's true, but I believe it's those that lean on others and give back that make up the exceptional people in this world. Michael Phelps has talent, but he didn't win eight golds solely because he worked hard by himself. His work ethic and talent could've gotten him far, but not as far as he got with his coaches pushing him to his limits and a community challenging him, believing in him to be great, and encouraging him.

I'll take an example from my own life. All my life I skidded by on natural talent and going to one of the most prestigious and academically challenging schools in my area, it finally bit me in the butt. I didn't even graduate in the top 50% of my class. The Vice Principal of Academics even had a meeting with me my Senior year to tell that he was disappointed, explaining that upon admittance it was expected that I would graduate within the top 10% and that I had the lowest GPA among those taking honors classes. One of my biggest fears coming to college was that my lack of work ethic would carry over and it did. Even with all the "Survive Your Freshman Year" college books or me getting down on myself about finally shaping up and trying in school, I got nowhere. I ended up with a 3.0 while only taking 8 hours. I believed that I had the aptitude and vision to be successful, but I began to doubt it more and more. I needed help and my community responded. When I didn't believe in myself, they did. When I needed to hear the truth, they told me. When I wanted to give up, they made sure I didn't quit. I could've continued to underachieve, but they didn't let me. I'll never forget an e-mail I received from one of my favorite high school teachers, Dr. Gorman. Mark Twain has a quote that says he can "live on a compliment for two months," but his has been in my heart for four years. It's been a huge learning process and I'm still learning, but I'm proud to say that last semester I got a 3.78 and on Dean's List because of my community.

I surround myself with passionate people because I love learning from them. Whether it's Jeremy Wilburn inspiring me to pursue photography while sharing his heart with me and teaching me everything he knows or Aaron Valentine taking a moment when I was in Louisiana to teach me guitar or John Kelly who introduced me to what true community looks like, my community has made me who I am.

Kami concluded her post by challenging anybody reading to say thanks to their mentors, so here is a video thanks to some of my mentors and my community (twitter community shout-out included):

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Blogger Kami Huyse said...

I am watching your video and it is really moving. It is so great to see people giving real props that mean something. Keep up the "attitude of gratitude" and you will succeed in life.

January 15, 2009 at 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Your genuineness will take you far. I agree with Kami, this attitude you have will take you big places.

January 16, 2009 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger emily welch said...

I agree.. I would definitely not be where I am without community. I was alone in my faith journey until about freshman year of college.. and I can feel the difference of people surrounding me with real love.. because they want to love.. not because they expect anything.

January 25, 2009 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Te-Wei Wang said...

Howard: It is great to know that you are a student blogger. You come to the right class. We will do heavy duty blogging in our class. (MIS424).

January 26, 2009 at 9:26 PM  

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