Build Community or Die Tryin’
I woke up at 5am this morning so I could avoid feeling depressed, isolated, lonesome, devoid of meaning and ostracised from the world and those I love.
That’s a good incentive to wake-up early.
At 5:30 I had arrived at a park for @the530Club.ryde. I sat on a picnic rug with a small group of people and meditated for ten minutes. I was excited for the day ahead but tried to bring focus to my breath.
At 6:00 our morning cafe opened. I sat, opened my laptop and started writing. Around me people were reading books, typing away, or chatting lightly.
We do this every weekday. We have a morning community at our small chapter of 5:30 Club that keeps each other accountable.
I would struggle to wake up at 5am everyday if I wasn’t accountable to this community.
February 2019. Scott, Nick, Hugh and I went to a small karaoke night in North Sydney – an open mic event. It didn’t take long for Scott to get offside with the karaoke host by scribbling different names down on the submissions we were making to sing.
(By the way, the feud between Scott and this karaoke host lasts till this day.)
Because we had such a good time, we realised that karaoke had to become a monthly occurrence. And so the last Saturday of every month has been reserved for karaoke ever since in a little initiative we call “Hound Dogs Karaoke”.
I’ve gotten in trouble for missing birthdays and weddings for karaoke. People just don’t understand.
This style of karaoke is the ultimate platform for melting ego and maintaining community.
People with big egos don’t come to open-mic karaoke. Open-mic karaoke by nature requires people who are low-maintenance and willing to ‘take the mickey out of themselves’ as we say in Australia.
There is no better way to stay humble and to let go of Astro’s rigid thinking. For me it is vital that we avoid taking ourselves too seriously – especially for the sake of our professional and family lives.
And now I’ve got you thinking…
Because you would never naturally tie karaoke to your relationship, creative or workplace performance. But truly, karaoke once a month provides the sort of grounded perspective that keeps your opinion of yourself healthy.
I always say, your mother lied to you. “You’re special” she said. But you’re no more special than anyone else.
But you ARE capable of anything. That’s not special, it’s just that most people don’t realise.
Now importantly karaoke is once-a-month. It’s a system. Everyone knows. Don’t make other plans for the last Saturday of any given month, because Joe won’t show up.
Clash with karaoke at your own risk.
Because it is so well known, people don’t have to remember or go out of their way to stay in touch. It’s just like going to Church or showing up for your football team. The hard work of staying in touch with people you would like to see gets outsourced to a system so that you don’t have to think about it.
Just like our 5:30 club. It’s where consistency comes from.
Doohat Labs’ Group Projects
In the future, more people will do a calendar of short-term collaborative projects like the sort we do at Doohat Labs.
It is uncommon for a group of employed people to go away for a retreat weekend, get to know each other deeply in a short period of time, and then create a fascinating group project together within six weeks.
Be it books, businesses, documentaries or youtube channels and instagram pages – the outlet almost doesn’t matter. These experiences are so great because they are the perfect opportunity for people to come together and learn in a safe way.
We began this sort of work because we could not imagine a less-intimidating way to get proactive about life and bring together the sort of people we resonated with most deeply. Why wouldn’t you try your own version of this?
Even without the project, there is some value to be found in the concept of the regular retreat. What would your life be like if every three months you went away with a group of new people?
New friendships, new connections and new perspectives. It’s hard to have too many of these fruits.
Not least of all is the opportunity to pause and reflect.
Not least of all is the opportunity to see others and see how you are not as unusual as you think.
Well that’s worth repeating.
You are not as unusual as you think.
These are just some of the ways we craft regular community. The ways we stay connected.
Imagine you are harnessed to the ship, connected to it during a storm. No matter how wild the storm, you will not fall to the depths below – you remain connected.
That is the point of all this.
I want to reiterate a point I made recently. That there’s no wealth, but a wealth of social connections.
Just because you have good people in your life, does not mean that you have true connection or community
At time of writing, Doohat Labs is putting the finishing touches on a book project. Currently unnamed, this book is about advice we wish we could give our eighteen-year-old selves.
In it I wrote about a section of my story after school and feeling like “The Invisible Man”. Of having lots of wonderful friends and family but feeling overlooked, disconnected and isolated all the same.
I assumed I was the problem. Really I was one of many square pegs in a round-hole society, each of whom could not recognise nor see one another.
Modern life is built for comfort, not for meaning. With affluence comes bigger houses, better privacy and higher gates. But one of the happiest times in my life came when I was in Nepal squashed like a sardine with people constantly on top of and around me.
How to tell if you have a community and connection?
If you’re not sure you have it, then you don’t.
Build Community or Die Tryin’
Use one of these systems, plug into our communities, or creatively imagine your own!
Open up to the world, and it will find you – it took me years to rediscover, but even so, this has made me appreciate it all the more.
Who do you think of when you read this? Who can re-discover connection alongside you?
Don’t forget to open a door for them today.