Community is everything. This might, you may think, sounds incorrect as surely the saying is ‘family is everything’ but it is a proven fact that there is huge power in the collective.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ he highlights a number of different examples of social anomalies where one specific statistic seems to break the rules by just standing out by a huge distance. An outlier.
The book starts in a place called Roseto in the USA. This small township is an Italian settlement and is surrounded by German, British and Dutch settlements.
So what? Well in the 1960’s, just when the consumer boom was taking a grip and people’s lives were becoming better, wealthier and to some extent easier, Roseto shone out like a beacon as a place with unusual longevity of life. People lived a long time. Actually, on average 20 years longer than their German, British and Dutch counterparts.
A team of Drs were sent to Roseto to find out why. At this time coronary heart disease was on the rise. People were dying younger. Yet in Roseto people were thriving into old age and dying of, well, old age.
The team undertook rigorous study of their diet. Could it be the Mediterranean cuisine? Nope. Rosetans were of Italian origin but enjoyed the unhealthy lifestyle of 1960’s America including the smoking, drinking and deep dish pizzas.
So were they super exercisers? No. No difference there either, Roseto was not famed for its athletic prowess.
In short, there was no physiological or any other scientific reason that equates to why people in this little enclave lived long and fulfilling lives.
Apart from one crucially important point. Researchers observed how the people lived and noted that in this community people really looked out for one another. Three generations of people ate meals together. Neighbours helped neighbours and strong bonds of reciprocal help, and communication were formed. There was a shared belonging, and a unity of purpose.
Stress, in this community, was far lower than that experienced in the Northern European settlements. It proved that if stress is managed well, through collaboration, then people are healthier, drink more sensibly, sleep better and are happier as a result.
Community, in this regard is everything. If it leads to longer lives and better performance then we can all do much to learn from this whether we apply it to our work or personal communities. Helping others, helps ourselves.
So when we are next in a competitive scenario, (and competition is important also), we would do best to remember that winning isn’t everything.
Because, community is :)