As community leaders, we tend to view everything through the prism of: How can I be there for my community members?
Good. That’s how it should be.
There isn’t anything better than being there for our members in an important way that helps them achieve a transformation they desire.
But there is one thing that’s pretty close …
When our community members step up and are there for us.
Which is exactly what happened to me this week.
Community members to the rescue!
Over at The Assembly Call, we’re in our tenth season of hosting live postgame shows immediately following Indiana University basketball games.
During that time, a tight community has formed around our show. We get hundreds of people in our YouTube live chats during our broadcasts, and our private community on Mighty Networks has exactly 1,000 members as I type this.
I’ve met many of these people in person when we’ve traveled to Bloomington for meetups. Some I’ve interacted with on Zoom. Others I only know through usernames and avatars.
And, as with any community, we have a bunch of inactive folks, some lurkers, a handful of really active participants, and then the superusers who are always there to add a thoughtful comment or even open up an interesting discussion thread.
Two of these superusers came to the rescue in a huge way earlier this week. Due to a bunch of scheduling conflicts, none of my regular co-hosts were available for our show on Super Bowl Sunday.
This caused a few moments of panic.
But then I remembered that I’d talked with Kathy about coming on the show before, because we wanted to add some female voices to the mix. And I remembered that Jeff (aka Coach Marlow) has been writing pregame scouting reports for a while, and often has insightful comments from a coach’s perspective during our community happy hours.
So I asked them if they wanted to come on the show with me. I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten a “Yes” to any question as quickly as they both agreed to co-host. It was a combination of being super-excited to have the chance to co-host, and knowing that I was in a real pickle and wanting to help out.
They were there for me in a moment of need.
And to add one last wrinkle to the story: I actually ended up having to postpone the Sunday show because something came up at home. But they didn’t flinch. We rescheduled it for Monday night, they showed up ready to go, and they did an incredible job helping me discuss Indiana’s 67-65 victory over Iowa. (See for yourself!)
And look, I know that it’s ultimately pretty silly to dedicate so much time, as we do, to discussing a college basketball team. But occurrences like these remind me that it’s really about so much more than the actual topic we’re discussing.
What real community feels like
This is what the best communities become: a place where the topic is really just the excuse for the community. We care about it, sure; but a lot of us now care as much or more about the camaraderie and togetherness.
As we hosted the show, I saw comment after comment in the live chat from fellow community members who were rooting Kathy and Jeff on. They wanted to see the two of them succeed. It was two of their own up there on the virtual stage.
This is going to sound cheesy, but …
It really felt like the community, at least the members who were there, shared a moment on Monday night. It felt like people grew a little closer together.
And we never would have had that chance if Kathy and Jeff hadn’t been willing to step out of their comfort zone and assume a different role, all because the community (in this case: me) called on them to do so.
Kathy and Jeff are the types of members around which loyal, sustaining communities are built. I feel so lucky that they are a part of our community.
I’m so glad I gave them the opportunity to step up. They did, in a big way.
And it’s a reminder that it’s up to us as community leaders to make sure we’re giving our most deserving members opportunities like this. They’ll come through more often than not, if we’re building our communities the right way,
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me — a community member stepping up in a time of need. It’s only the latest.
And every time it happens, it fills me with a sense of pride that I have a leadership role in a community with people this helpful and generous. It’s also a humbling reminder that just because I’m the “leader,” doesn’t mean I’m the only one willing and able to help.
In a real community, members care about one another, and are there to help one another in times of need. Otherwise, it’s just a discussion forum.
Now here is some additional reading …
First, speaking of community members stepping up, hat tip to Kelly for sending this to me in an email yesterday. She got in a daily email from American Express called “The Business Class Daily Edit.”
Yep, I’d say this is right up our alley.
Don’t forget why people engage with communities in the first place!
Rich over FeverBee has an excellent post that any community leader would do well to revisit once every few months. It’s so easy to forget why people join and engage in communities, and get caught up in stuff that either doesn’t matter or is counter-productive. This post will set you straight.
Thank you for reading this issue of Primility.
Please consider forwarding it to a friend who wants to be a better servant leader and build a strong online community.