UpliftAnother1

Building Community Through Better Relationships

Which Character Are You?

Diverse Teen Leaders Group

Great stories rely on great characters! Particularly, the young, and young at heart, connect with certain stories because they emotionally identify with specific characters. Whether a given character fills the role of hero, villain, buddy, moral compass, or narrator, their connectivity reveals relationships. Ultimately, these relationships become the foundation of a specific group, community, or culture. Whether characters are real, or make-believe, individuals identify with certain roles and embody the character in personal scenarios. It is perfectly normal, and healthy, for a kid to pretend to be a favorite superhero! So, which characters reflect the virtues that a defined community wishes to perpetuate? Furthermore, how does a community encourage realistic social growth as a result of stories and characters that its members embrace?

Collaborative Community
A community inherently reflects the living, breathing characteristics of its people. In building community, characters inevitably interact, whether positively or negatively. The deeper the characters, the deeper the stories, and consequently the deeper the community. To maximize everyone’s benefit, the community’s assorted members must communally and collectively reveal the story. The hard part is introducing the tools and framework for effective collaboration.

For starters, fundamental communication skills like listening, reflecting and sharing are required. Embracing emotions like empathy and compassion helps, too. While the community’s leadership my set the tone, the rank and file perpetuate the environment. The skills associated with developing the emotional foundation must be regularly communicated and reinforced for success. For example, children that engage in group activities that feature positive interactions benefit the most upon modeling behaviors that facilitate additional positive interactions. Fundamentally, developing and exercising teamwork equips collaborative communities to grow individuals’ progress.

Inspiring Individuals
Unsurprisingly, teamwork and collaborative progress require intentional effort by the community and its leadership. Cooperation, empathy, and measurable results are all admirable characteristics for developing better connected communities. To ignite such productive traits, a results-oriented culture must emerge that celebrates individual contributions for the common good. These character victories then become part of the community’s stories. This process leads to establishing heroes who are necessary for any great story.

These heroes emerge as they demonstrate characteristics that the developing community admires. Conversely, villains appear as personalities that seek to disrupt the growth. Comic relief characters add levity to activities that progress toward desired outcomes. The voice of reason perpetuates the logic that guides functional communities. Besides revealing characteristics that contribute to communal traits, these roles combine perspectives and skills to reach optimal resolutions. Ultimately, building community requires balanced and cooperative interactions for success.

Takeaways
While observing children seems easy, improving their behavior with better experiential examples is hard. The same is true for adults. To create a great story, complex characters must be faithful to roles that the community recognizes. Every community member adopts a role that contributes to establishing that community. By selecting, inspiring and rewarding more positive characters, the community promotes positive traits in its environment. The result is better contributors, and more importantly, better leaders.

Nevertheless, protagonists and antagonists are too simple to describe evolving characters in complex stories. Good guys, bad guys, anti-heroes, and corrupt authority figures now dynamically blend together depending on circumstances. The greater good no longer provides a simple foundation with regards to delivering more functional societies. The challenge is developing positive characters that contribute to their defined community, who then create even better stories as future leaders. So, what character are you? The more important question is: what characters are developing in your story to create more effective and productive communities?

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more (and even donate) go to TYRS.org

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July 11, 2018 - Posted by | Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , ,

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