We have all been in, or know someone who has been in, a difficult work situation, whether it’s a toxic boss or no potential for growth and promotion in your current role.
If you’re a reader of this blog, you have a desire to do work that matters and is fulfilling to you. I know many of our members feel funny about this at times.
After all, isn’t work just work?
For many years, I also felt funny about wanting to do work that felt meaningful. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just be happy with the status quo.
I had a decent job, a paycheck, and I was moving up. (I want to acknowledge that this was a different time when we weren’t in a devastating economic recession. My privilege plays a significant role in my desire to do meaningful work.)
It wasn’t until I stumbled on a group of others who had similar goals that I realized I wasn’t alone.
These people had similar values. They wanted to make a difference. They cared about growth, learning, and challenging themselves.
Being around this group allowed me to see what was possible for myself.
This is when I realized that being part of a community is an essential part of our development.
When it comes to your career, finding a group of like-minded people navigating the career world can be game-changing.
If you’re feeling stuck or alone in your career journey – maybe you’re in the midst of the job search and feeling down with your prospects, or maybe you’re not clear on what your purpose is and that’s draining you, I want you to read today’s post.
You’ll learn how finding the right community can support your journey, and how it will help you achieve your goals much faster.
Community provides a sense of belonging
We all have a need to belong. It’s human.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow documented that the first basic needs we have are needs that allow us to survive like food and water, safety and security.
For many of my job-seekers right now, I know getting a paycheck is top priority as it’s directly related to ensuring you’re safe and that you can survive. This is of the utmost importance.
It’s only after you have your basic needs established, that you move on to the next step, which is having your psychological needs met, like finding a sense of belonging.
As a society and as humans, we evolved in groups because groups have been critical to our survival.
Back in the day when we were cave people, groups provided physical safety and protected us from lack of food and harsh weather.
We’re not dealing with the same physical threats today, but we are dealing with social threats like workplace toxicity, stress, status, and career path challenges.
Our social threats feel the same as physical threats: just like we’ve protected ourselves physically in groups, relying on groups and communities can provide social safety and a sense of belonging.
Love, relationships, and friendships are critical in helping you manage these social threats.
This applies to finding support in our careers – whether we need that support to find a new job, to help us cope with a difficult boss or to help us move up.
Community gives you a leg up
My first experience with community came when I joined Dreamers & Doers, a private collective for women founders. As a completely new entrepreneur, I felt lost. As part of Dreamers & Doers, I was able to access resources that were absolutely critical in growing my business.
This included conversations with other founders, accountability buddies, speaking opportunities and more. These resources and people became my secret weapons for growth.
At Work Bigger, I see our members coming together to crowdsource similar opportunities.
Every Thursday we have a #Resources and #JobOpps post where members post hiring opportunities at their companies that haven’t yet been listed on LinkedIn.
Other members offer their time to chat through difficult work situations, such as challenges with managing a team or dealing with bias.
Others host monthly co-working sessions on building a business or navigating the job search.
Now that I’ve been a community-builder for a few years, I see how groups are not just for me but for everyone.
If I think about the old boys network, I see how so many men are in positions of power.
The old boys network is an informal system of friendships and communities where men use their positions of power to help other men. They’re connected because they belong to the same groups or clubs and as a result, refer and vouch for each other.
In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of whisper networks: communities of women developing networks with the goal of leveling the playing field in the workforce.
I like to consider Work Bigger as part of this phenomenon too even though we’re not focused on only women but are open to men and non-binary folks as well.
My point is, in all of these groups, there’s an exchange of information and resources that will give you a leg up in your journey.
Community provides space to feel seen
I know how vulnerable the career journey can be. It’s especially vulnerable if you’re part of a marginalized group and dealing with micro-aggressions, trauma, and bias.
What if you had a safe space to share your struggles?
And what if you surround yourself with a group of like-minded people who know your experience?
I promise you, you’ll feel seen in that moment. And that’s a big deal.
One of my top priorities as a community-builder is to create a safe space.
Having led many trainings at organizations, I’ve seen how difficult it is for employees to air their grievances and open up.
After all their boss is in the room, and sharing how they feel openly can jeopardize their career trajectory – maybe even get them fired.
This is not the case when you’re part of a group of people who are coming together to specifically share the ups and downs of work.
I’ve seen that sharing leads to healing. And that healing is critical in your development.