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Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will

Nov 26, 2019

Twila and I met because our husbands were looking for other musicians to jam with. One of them answered the other one’s Craig’s List ad, they played together a couple of times, and then I invited them over for dinner and music. We never considered not making music together after that night. Our voices together created something entirely different than our voices separately. The complexity of our vocal tone and harmonies continue to make the hairs rise on our necks, and on the necks of our audiences. I call her my Soul Sister.

For this 100th episode, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate theme than Community. It’s my community that make me who I am today. It’s my community - that I built with intention - that bring me satisfaction, challenge, and joy. It’s my community that helped me be the person I aspire to be, and to raise our children to be independent, kind, compassionate adults.

Today’s 100th episode of Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will is sponsored by Uchi. Scroll down to learn more about this new communication improvement app!

I started to build my LinkedIn community about 10 years ago, slowly at first, finding my footing as a blog writer and contributor to the platform via comments and sharing valuable, relevant content.

The first people I connected with deeply were Heather Younger, Neil Hughes, John White, Dustin McKissen, Chris Spurvey, and Karthik Rajan. These were the people putting out great content that I was learning from, engaging with, and sharing, which was the reason for the substantial growth of my LinkedIn network: People started to follow me because they trusted me to share relevant content.

Those people are the reason for the existence of the No Longer Virtual events. I realized that bringing them together, face-to-face, would offer even more opportunities to deepen my learning from them, and our relationships. We’re heading into our fourth year, No Longer Virtual will descend on Chicago on March 12 & 13, 2020.

That first event in Atlanta in 2017 brought me face-to-face with many of my favorite LinkedIn voices, including Melissa Hughes and Zach Messler, who both continue to be huge inspirations and support for me. Our relationships began virtually, and now I cannot imagine my life without them - or the others I mentioned - in it. They are my community.

For this episode, I wanted to explore what community means to people, and to share what my community means to me. So I hit the record button in the kitchen at Twila’s house, while sitting with her, her daughter, Joy, and our younger son, Max, and drinking coffee and eating delicious, fresh-from-the-oven banana bread.

Two of us moved around a lot as kids (Joy and me), and two stayed in the same house and small communities all through their childhood (Max and Twila). That dynamic made for really interesting insights and discussion about what community means, it’s impact on us, and why it’s so important to be intentional about building a diverse community of supporters, challengers, and truth-tellers.

Joy’s perspective is significantly different from the others in the room. As an only child and a more solitary soul, community is critical for her emotional health in a completely different way from those of us who are generally more social creatures. She explained that as a Challenger (Enneagram reference), she isn’t a naturally trusting person, so her comfort zone is being solitary. But with that solitary life, she risks spending far too much time in her own head, which can cause what she called “disintegration”.

Max’s perspective leaned toward mine, that a healthy, supportive community becomes the foundation for curiosity and exploration of other communities and environments. He said that his foundational community, the peer group he has stayed close with since preschool and kindergarten, continues to help him feel secure in his exploration outside of that comfort zone.

I hope you enjoy listening to this 100th episode as much as I enjoyed recording it. Special thanks to Neil Hughes for his critical role in bringing these 100 episodes to life. It simply wouldn't be possible without him.

Uchi is proud to sponsor this milestone 100th episode about Community because uchi, in Japanese, means “in-group” or “inner circle”. The folks at Uchi believe people are yearning to feel closer to others. Not to everyone, but to the people who matter most to them.

Uchi is a free app, available for download on the App Store and Google Play, that helps make conversations easier.

It’s like those cards games where you sit around a table and share answers to questions, but this is online so you can do it anywhere, at any time and with anyone around the world. Community is about people and their relationships to each other. Uchi’s mission is to help people connect authentically with those who matter most to them in order to have more meaningful relationships.

As a sponsor of the 100th episode of the Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will podcast, Uchi is contributing to Elkins Consulting’s, No Longer Virtual 2020 conference scholarship fund.